You Must Remember This

You Must Remember This

Life and Style in Hollywood's Golden Age

Book - 2014
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For millions of movie lovers, no era in the history of Hollywood is more beloved than the period from the 1930s through the 1950s, the golden age of the studio system. Not only did it produce many of the greatest films of the American cinema, but it was then that Hollywood itself became firmly established as the nation's ultimate symbol of glamour and style, its stars almost godlike figures whose dazzling lives were chronicled in countless features in magazines like Photoplay and Modern Screen .

While these features were a standard part of the work of studio publicity departments, they told eager readers little about what life was really like for these celebrities once they steped out of the public eye. No one is better qualified to tell that story than Robert Wagner, whose own career has spanned more than five decades and whose New York Times bestseller, Pieces of My Heart , was one of the most successful Hollywood memoirs in recent years. You Must Remember This is Wagner's intimate ode to a bygone time, one of magnificent homes, luxurious hotels, opulent nightclubs and restaurants, and unforgettable parties that were all part of the Hollywood social scene at its peak.

From a dinner party at Clifton Webb's at which Judy Garland sang Gershwin at the piano to golf games with Fred Astair, from Jimmy Cagney's humble farmhouse in Coldwater Canyon to the magnificent beach mansion built by William Randolph Hearst for Marion Davies, from famous restaurants like the Brown Derby and Romanoff's to nightspots like the Trocadero and the Mocambo, Wagner shares his affectionate memories and anecdotes about the places and personalities that have all become part of Hollywood legend.

As poignant as it is revealing, You Must Remember This is Wagner's account of Hollywood as he saw it, far from the lights and cameras and gossip columns - and a tender farewell to the people of a mythical place long since transformed, and to a golden age long since passed.

Publisher: New York : Viking, c2014.
ISBN: 9780670026098
Characteristics: 262 pages :,illustrations ;,24 cm
Additional Contributors: Eyman, Scott 1951-


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May 25, 2014

I enjoyed Wagner's desire to preserve his impressions of a by-gone era of Hollywood in print for future generations. Many of his anecdotes about the places and activities that made up Hollywood's golden era from the 1920s to the early 1960s were amusing and surprising. I was a bit hampered by not really knowing the geography of Los Angeles terribly well, but many of the places he talks about (the Beverly Hills Hotel, Ciro's, Romanoff's, The Brown Derby, Chasen's) are part of Hollywood lore.

He doesn't dish a lot of celebrity dirt, apart from an almost surreal introduction in which Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson stare into each other eyes and hold up Liza Minnelli's wedding to David Gest. Given the ultimate outcome of that unholy alliance, it probably wasn't such a bad thing for Taylor and Jackson to do, but Wagner uses it as a contrast to the more professional (or at least hushed up) behaviour of stars in the 1950s under the studio system. While there is some truth in what he says, the studio system was far from a dream for most of the people who toiled under it. In his attempt to be a nice guy, he glosses over much of what was ugly about the period in which he was a rising star.

This is a wistful, elegiac book written by a man in his eighties who is clearly looking back to what he considers a more ordered time. While he doesn't explicitly bemoan how badly he thinks things have gotten (apart from one self-professed "you-kids-get-off-my-lawn" moment), it's clear that he thinks that it's pretty much been downhill since the 1960s. But Wagner manages to be likable and keep the bitterness quotient way, way down.

The love that he feels for the time period he covers is clearly conveyed and almost makes one wish that it were possible to go back and revisit that time and the people who made it up. He is generally very respectful of the people he talks about, even being rather diplomatic and kind about gossip columnists like Louella Parsona and Hedda Hopper.

This is a fast but enjoyable read for anyone who has an interest in old-school Hollywood.

ChristchurchLib May 12, 2014

"In You Must Remember This, legendary actor Robert Wagner offers a nostalgic look at Hollywood's golden age. Though he starts with Liza Minnelli's 2002 wedding to David Gest, that's just a jumping off point to recall better days, back when movie stars were fashionable trendsetters, before the paparazzi were everywhere. Having been in the business for decades, Wagner mixes Hollywood's social history with choice recollections of his own (want to know what aftershave Sinatra wore? Wagner shares that and plenty of other tidbits). The restaurants, hotels, and architecture of Hollywood circa the 1940s and '50s come alive in this charming tribute to days gone by." Popular Culture May 2014 newsletter

145e Mar 25, 2014

I have always been fascinated by tales of the golden age of Hollywood, but even I must admit to a good degree of boredom. Whenyou think of the tales this man could tell, compared to the very weak tea presented to us here......

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