Monday, September 10, 2012

From Motown to Hollywood

People often ask me how in the world did a girl from Motown end up writing a book about Hollywood?  The answer is pretty simple—I was the original couch potato, at least when school was out. 

As a kid with nowhere to be, I set my own schedule.  My day began at 8:30 a.m. sharp with Rita Bell and ‘The Prize Movie’.  In between each movie segment, Bell played several notes of a song and viewers tried to guess its name.  If memory serves me correctly, for every wrong answer, the winning pot grew.  Once someone gave the right answer and claimed the money, the whole thing started over again with a new tune and a new jackpot. 

Next, we were treated to ‘Bill Kennedy at the Movies’.  Kennedy’s show broadcasted from across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario.  It started at 1:00 p.m.  There were no gimmicks and no games—only the films.  In his youth, Kennedy was under contract at Warner Bros.  He never made it big in Hollywood, but he did land roles in some great films.  He played an officer in ‘Destination Tokyo’ (1943), one of Bette Davis’ beaus in ‘Mr. Skeffington’ (1944) and appeared in a myriad of early television shows.  Kennedy prided himself on his inside knowledge of the movie industry and the filmmakers he knew during his tenure in Hollywood.  I always remember the day Jack Warner died.  Kennedy made a point to say, with a hint of sadness, that his old boss had passed away.  A wise-cracking crew member hollered back from behind the camera:  “Jack Warner didn’t know you from the prop man!”  Suffice it to say, Kennedy was not amused.
After Bill Kennedy and his endless supply of movie trivia, it was back to ABC for the afternoon science fiction film.  There were no hosts, but plenty of gigantic spiders, prowling werewolves and shapeless blobs wreaking havoc wherever they went.  There was always lots of terrified screaming and extensive scurrying as unsuspecting bystanders tried to get away.  Some films, like ‘Godzilla’ (1954) were made in Japan and dubbed.  That was fine.  No one cared.  Monsters in any language gave us kids the willies.

From combat to comedy, from good guys to gangsters, from musicals to madcaps, the Motor City had ‘em all.  And that’s how a girl from the Car Capitol of the world came to be a couch potato who  fell madly in love with the movies.  As for writing that book about Hollywood?  I just couldn't help myself! 


  1. Thanks for that, Debra, because I *have* wondered how you came to be writing about Hollywood. And now I know!

  2. You are too funny, Martin! How did you end up in this business of writing about The Garden of Allah?