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May 5, 2014

The only thing more compelling than a Hollywood mystery might be Hollywood history. I think my guest today, Ken LaZebnik, will agree. He is the author of a swell new book, Hollywood Digs: An Archaeology of Shadows, that tells the tales of people we think we know about in the glamour capital of the world, but LaZebnik has found new details and anecdotes that peel back the onion a little bit more on Hollywood skeletons than we could previously.

KEN LaZEBNIK podcast excerpt: "Former Tarzan actor and stuntman Jock Mahoney was Sally Field's stepfather. She became this huge star and I asked Jock's daughter, Princess O'Mahoney, how Jock felt about that. She said, 'He always took credit for it. He took her to those acting classes! ... And when she had a relationship with Burt Reynolds, the movie 'Hooper' was really inspired by Jock."

Among my favorite stories in Hollywood Digs is that of stuntman and two-time Tarzan actor Jock Mahoney – but not so much because of him -- as to learn something about his daughter, Princess. As a fan of the Showtime dramedy, “Shameless,” I was always intrigued by the end credit on the show: “First Assistant Director, Princess O’Mahoney.” What an interesting name! And now, thanks to LaZebnik, I know the backstory – which somehow includes Academy Award winning actress Sally Field. Go figure!

KEN LaZEBNIK excerpt: "I got on a big F. Scott Fitzgerald kick and noticed this letter of his with a return address 5521 Amestoy Avenue in Encino, California. I thought, I know Amestoy Avenue in Encino! I should see where this was! The address had been consumed by the 101 Highway. But there, on the corner, was Edward Everett Horton Way. Digging further, I discovered that the penultimate residence of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Los Angeles was a rented college on the estate of character actor Edward Everett Horton, who played butlers in those Astaire & Rogers movies. It was so heartbreaking that this great American novelist was reduced to renting a cottage from the estate of the butler. It's pretty appalling."

There is also a story connecting The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald with film butler Edward Everett Horton, and much more, as well as more than 60 stunning duotone photographs capturing a number of bygone eras.

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