NONFICTION

You Must Remember This: Life and Style in Hollywood's Golden Age

Wagner, Robert J. & . Viking. Mar. 2014. 272p. photos. index. ISBN 9780670026098. $28.95. FILM
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A handsome young journeyman actor in the 1950s, Wagner observed what were to be the last years of the golden era of Hollywood. The studio system and the old-time moguls were beginning to fade but were still powerful. Stars still displayed their glamorous lifestyle in fashionable clubs and restaurants; gossip columnists like Louella Parsons, Jimmy Fidler, and Hedda Hopper feverishly sought their exclusives. Although Wagner sporadically inserts some of his own experiences in this account, it is not a memoir; rather it is more a social history of that era, divided according to broad topics such as the fabulous Hollywood homes (Pickfair, the Marion Davies beach "cottage," etc.), the nightlife, the memorable personalities, the columnists, and how the stars spent their leisure time. Introducing this is a general history of Hollywood before and during the height of that legendary era. Most of what Wagner and Eyman (former literary and art critic, Palm Beach Post; coauthor Pieces of My Heart) describe has been written about very often and sometimes in more interesting ways. But Wagner has had a decades-long career and has certainly been in the "thick" of the lifestyle he describes.
VERDICT Despite the pedestrian writing style, the insider's view that Wagner provides may well appeal to nostalgia buffs, and he does offer the occasional illuminating insight on that long-vanished time.

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