View and Review

Book CoverThis review is by John Burroughs for Midwest Book Review and reposted below:

Hollywood or Bust: Movie Stars Dish on Following Their Dreams, Making It Big, and Surviving in Tinseltown collects more than 500 quotes, wisecracks, tell-it-like-it-is tips, and words of wisdom from popular stars and directors, including Ben Affleck to Jackie Chan, George Clooney, Carole Burnett, and many more. Grouped by subject, these vignettes offer a condensed glimpse of the trials and tribulations of the showbiz industry, and are just plain fun for a quick browse anytime. Hollywood or Bust also makes an excellent gift book for anyone who loves TV and movies! “I’d say the cut-off point for leading ladies today is thirty-five to forty whereas half the men in Hollywood get their start then. It’s a terrible double standard.” -Kathleen Turner, actress


To view the original on the Midwest Book Review Bookwatch – August 2013, scroll down seven categories to Burroughs’ Bookshelf.


News Flash and Splash

Book CoverCowgirl Jane Press




The 2013 Beach Book Festival announced winners on June 10.  Hollywood or BustMovie Stars Dish on Following their Dreams, Making it Big, and Surviving in Tinseltown placed first in the category Compilations/Anthologies.

Comprised of over five hundred quips, quotes, and off-the-cuff remarks from actors, directors, writers, and others involved in the business, Hollywood or Bust conveys what insiders think about themselves, their lives, their fame, their careers, each other, and the town itself. Even among those who have made it opinions vary as to whether or not the road trip down the yellow brick road to fame and fortune is worth the heartache and hard work.

Author Susan Marg is thrilled with the award.  “The Beach Book Festival seemed like a natural competition for my book.  Hollywood or Bust is a fun, summer read, filled with wit and whimsy.”  She further adds, “I won’t be going to the rewards ceremony, however, as it takes place in New York.”

Hollywood or Bust, ISBN 978-0-578-11882-6, is a 182-page paperback book consisting of seven chapters and twenty original photographs.  Topics cover dreams of success to attending the Oscars.  It lists for $14.95.


Susan Marg is the author of Las Vegas Weddings: A Brief History, Celebrity Gossip, Everything Elvis, and the Complete Chapel Guide, published by HarperCollins.  Since she has moved her field of focus from the City of Lights to the City of Angels, her interest in popular culture has only intensified.



Hollywood or Bust: The Movie

Illustration by: Viktor Hertz

Illustration by: Viktor Hertz

Paramount’s 1956 Hollywood or Bust is a swingin’ musical travelogue starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in their last movie together.

It begins in New York City where fanatical movie fan Malcolm Smith, Lewis’s character, wins a hot red convertible that he plans to drive to Hollywood to meet actress Anita Ekberg, playing herself, on whom he has the biggest crush.

Dean Martin plays inveterate gambler Steve Wiley, wily as a fox, who convinces Malcolm that he, too, won, although he had stacked the lottery and plans to sell the car to pay his gambling debts.   Malcolm, being a trusting sort, as well as not knowing how to drive, lets Steve take the wheel, and they’re over the bridge and out of the city with Malcolm’s Great Dane, Mr. Bascomb, in the back seat.

“Sound the trumpets strike the cymbals

Boys from Bonwits and girls from Gimbels

Shaking off that old Manhattan dust

To get to Hollywood or bust.”

(From the song “Hollywood or Bust”.)

Traveling along two-lane back roads the pair pass red farmhouses, white picket fences, covered bridges, full service gas stations, golden pastures, and girls, girls, girls, riding a hay wagon, fishing from a rowboat, swimming in a pond, all enjoying the fresh air.

“Oh, there’ nothing as gay as a day in the country…

It’s quite a delightful surprise for a couple of traveling guys.”

(From the song “A Day in the Country”.)

Before reaching Chicago troubles abound.  Malcolm and Steve run out of gas, get held up by a hitchhiker, and meet up with a showgirl, Terry Roberts played by Pat Crowley, on her way to Vegas.  The duo becomes a singing trio plus dog.

“When you cross the Mississippi

Cross the Mississippi

You’re in the wild and wooly west.”

(From the song “The Wild and Wooly West”.)

The three continue to croon, as they pass through “old” Missouri, Oklahoma, and the state of Texas, “the largest in the union”. The song takes them all the way to Las Vegas, where they pass the Sands (where Martin and Lewis are performing), the Algiers, the Thunderbird, the Desert Inn, and El Rancho Vegas, among other luxurious desert resorts and casinos.

There are more sights to see and songs to sing once the group arrives in Hollywood.

“It looks like love

It could be love

But if it’s not it’s so darn wonderful it should be love.”

(From the song “It Looks Like Love”.)

The highlight takes place at Paramount Studios where Steve proposes to Terry during her audition for a part in the first Elvis Presley movie, and Anita decides to cast Mr. Bascomb in her next movie “The Lady and the Great Dane.”  In the grand finale, both couples plus dog walk down the red carpet at its premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

It doesn’t get any more Hollywood, except for the songs:

“Land of stardust and land of glamour

Vistavision and cinerama

Everyone considers it a must

To get to Hollywood or bust.”

(From the song “Hollywood or Bust”.)

And that’s why I named my book Hollywood or Bust.  Check it out: HollywoodOrBustTheBook.comOr go straight to Amazon.

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved


The Empire State Building: A View from the Top

Wonder of wonders: Photo by: Stew Dean

Approximately four million people visit the Empire State Building each year, making it one of  New York’s top tourist attractions.  It opened as an office building in 1931 during the Great Depression.  It was deemed the Eighth Wonder of the World, but companies couldn’t afford the rent.  It didn’t become profitable until 1950.

Regardless of the interior space people have always been drawn by the view, no matter what the cost.  For $1.10 way back when and up to $55 currently, visitors ride to the public observatories on the 86th and 102nd floors.  They are open day or night (until 2 AM), come rain or come shine.

The bustling streets of Manhattan below draw one in.  The panoramic vistas sweep one away.   It couldn’t be more romantic.  It’s the stuff of which dreams are made.

By one count some 250 flicks feature the iconic skyscraper.  They are not all memorable, but some are noteworthy.  Andy Warhol’s 1964 silent black and white film Empire consists of eight hours and five minutes of continuous slow motion footage of the building.  If you’re wondering, it never moves, although its floodlights flicker on and off for most of the marathon.

More action takes place in An Affair to Remember, considered one of the greatest love stories of all time.  After a paralyzing car accident, Deborah Kerr is unable to keep her rendezvous with Cary Grant on the upper deck.  He believes she stood him up, but fortuitously, they reunite months later.

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have better luck meeting up in Sleepless in Seattle, although she arrives after hours.  When she explains her situation to the guard, he gives her access to the elevator because An Affair to Remember is his wife’s favorite movie.

Looking up and up and up. Photo by: auchard

Then there’s King Kong.  Released during the Great Depression, the great ape is billed, like the Empire State Building itself, as the Eighth Wonder of the World.  He’s on display on Broadway where he escapes his chains, scoops up Ann Darrow, and hightails it to the top of the tower.  He loses his fight with airplanes sent to bring him down, and he falls to his death.

Fay Wray, the original out-of-work chorus girl to whom King Kong takes a shine, will forever be associated with the movie.

“When I’m in New York, I look at the Empire State Building and feel as though it belongs to me,” she once mused, “or is it vice versa?”

Currently, the owners, the Malkin family, are buffing and polishing the Art Deco edifice, planning to make it the centerpiece of a $5 billion public offering.  Start thinking now about getting in on the ground floor.  It’s a way of securing your place in the castle in the sky.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved


Watch and wonder – the last five minutes of Sleepless in Seattle

And some great views of and from the Empire State Building: