Wow. It really is about who you know (and who’s representing you) that gets you to the top in Hollywood. Although having talent helps, when you have a publicist/manager/producer/writer/director behind you like the late Jay Bernstein, you can make to the very top of stardom.
Bernstein started out his career working at P.R. company Rogers & Cowen. He got his first taste of working with the A-list while serving as a publicity assistant on Sergeants 3, a 1961 production starring Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr and Dean Martin, among others. Through the years that followed, he opened his own P.R. firm, then started managing talent and producing TV shows and made for TV movies starring some of his clients.
Speaking of his clients – did you know who’s responsible for women throwing their panties at Tom Jones while he’s on stage? Jay Bernstein. And who made Farrah Fawcett a sex symbol, thanks to that poster of her in a red bathing suit? Right – Jay Bernstein. He also helping make Kristy McNichol a star (until she fired him and her career went off the tracks), made Suzanne Somers a household name, and resurrected William Shatner’s post-Star Trek career. These stories are just a fraction of the events that take place in Starmaker, which doesn’t always portray actors in a positive light, but also doesn’t hide the fact that Bernstein himself isn’t exactly a saint.
Some parts of the book appear disjointed. For example, at one point it jumps from Bernstein’s working with Tatum O’Neal directly into a section on his housekeeper, Delmy Tochez, with little transition in between. The first chapter also took a while to get going, but once it ended and the juicy details on his career in Hollywood began, I was hooked. Starmaker is written from the point of view of Bernstein himself, and I can almost hear him dictating it to the other authors as the book progresses. I was upset when it seemed to cut off abruptly (I was sure that there were more details!), and then I turned the page and was saddened to find out that Bernstein died suddenly of a stroke almost 6 years ago.
If you want juicy Hollywood stories on stars from the 1960s through the 1980s, this is the book for you. If you want to know how the Hollywood game is played, then this is the book for you. Heck, if you want to read a page-turner about the life of a Starmaker, then pick up this book. How many more times can I emphasize that?
Starmaker: Life as a Hollywood Publicist with Farrah, the Rat Pack and 600 More Stars Who Fired Me by Jay Bernstein, Larry Cortez Hamm and David Rubini is available now from booksellers everywhere. You can also purchase a copy here.
(Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided to me by the published ECW Press for my honest review. For more details, please click on my disclosure policy above.)