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Hollywood DivasTitle: Hollywood Divas
Author: James Robert Parish
Copyright: © 2003
Publisher: Contemporary Books, a division of McGraw-Hill
ISBN: 0-07-140819-3

Relevance: Hollywood Divas is ideal for any reporter, writer or aspiring Hollywood-type who wants to learn more about many of the personalities behind the glitter and glamour of Hollywood. As its title indicates, it is completely Hollywood-centric in its outlook and spin.

Review: Subtitled The Good, the Bad, and the Fabulous, James Robert Parish's book, Hollywood Divas, takes readers behind the scenes of many Hollywood divas.

There are 70 divas profiled from Jean Arthur and Lucille Ball (born Gladys Georgianna Greene and Lucille Desiree Ball, respectively) to Natalie Wood and Loretta Young (born Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko Gurdin and Gretchen Michaela Young, respectively).

Parish's analogous book dealing with male-only Hollywood stars is titled Hollywood Bad Boys. Hollywood Divas, on the other hand, concentrates solely on female artists. Here we learn the ugly, the tawdry, and the sexually intriguing stories behind today's (and yesterday's) movie, TV and other Hollywood stars.

Hollywood Divas -- and its companion book, Hollywood Bad Boys -- are ideal for anyone trying to get up to speed on many of Hollywood's "A" list personalities. The book includes brief biographical information of each star (including where and when each was born), relevant information about the star's childhood or teen years, and of, course, the dirt on their various relationships, marriages, divorces and other sundry events.

Not surprisingly, Shannen Doherty is among those featured, and Parish reveals her assorted relationship and professional troubles -- both on and off the set. For example, Parish writes "May 1999 found Shannen in Dallas, Texas, out on the town with Judd Nelson (a former brat packer). She was drinking 'heavily' and, according to the restaurant's manager, she 'puked at her table'."

A few years later, Doherty was stopped by the California Highway Patrol for erratic driving. According to Parish, "She vetoed a sobriety test and was arrested and given a non-consensual blood-alcohol test. It registered 0.13 percent, putting her over the legal limit. After 10 hours in a holding cell, the actress -- who claimed to be suffering from claustrophobia -- became very upset before she was finally released on her own recognizance."

"The case came before the court in mid-2001 and Shannen was ordered to pay a $1500 fine, do 20 days (later reduced to 5 days) in a work-release program, serve 3 years probation, and give lectures to teenagers on the dangers of drunk driving."

The slap heard around the world...
Zsa Zsa Gabor, another poster child for Hollywood Divas, is similarly profiled. For instance, after a series of relationships, marriages, divorces and legal proceedings, Zsa Zsa was wed to Prince Frederick von Anhalt, Duke of Saxony. Parish writes: "During this union, Gabor had one half of her most infamous run-ins with the law. In June 1989, she was stopped by a Beverly Hills policeman for driving with expired registration tags on her Rolls Royce. The two got into an argument, she supposedly swore at him, slapped him in the face, and threatened 'to call the [Ronald] Reagans'.

"In response, he handcuffed her and took the raging 'darling' to jail. The smack heard around the world led to extensive media coverage of her trial on charges of two driving violations (the second one for allegedly altering vital statistics on her driver's license) and battery...her consort, Prince Frederick, didn't help matters by insisting, 'the rich and famous should be judged differently. This city couldn't live with the little people's tax money.'"

Other celebrities profiled include Tallulah Bankhead, Drew Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore, Kim Basinger, Clara Bow, Cher, Joan Collins, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Jane Fonda, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, Melanie Griffith, Sonja Henie, Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Hedy Lamarr, Madonna, Liza Minelli, and Marilyn Monroe.

Demi Moore (born Demetria Gene Guynes), Joan Rivers, Julia Roberts, Roseanne, Meg Ryan, Cybill Shepherd, Britney Spears, Sharon Stone, Barbra Streisand, Gloria Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor, Mae West, and Shelley Winters round out the list of profiled divas.

Hollywood Divas is sometimes funny, sometimes horrifying, and sometimes just plain dirty -- but it does hold one's interest and provides lots of details for reporters and other writers working the entertainment beat or those covering Hollywood or media studies. Always revealing, Hollywood Divas does not dish up the dirt in depth on any one particular diva. It does, however, offer up a smattering of juicy details for each diva profiled. Depending on the depth of biographical information you need, the book may be quite enough -- or simply an appetite whetter.

A must for anybody interested in what other people are doing, Hollywood Divas is recommended for reporters and biographers working in Hollywood. Throughout the book, there are dozens of stories detailing hushed-up pregnancies, drug addictions, and rampant alcoholism, as well as out-of-control tantrums and just plain diva behavior. Although scant mention is made of anybody outside of Hollywood (Parish seems to think there are no divas outside southern California), the reader does get fair warning from book title concerning what the book delivers. Recommended.

End of Review

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