Author: Frank DeCaro
Publisher: Health Communications, Inc.
ISBN-13:978-0-7573-1700-2

After all, Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can leave a host or hostess wondering what to serve that he or she has never served before,” Frank DeCaro states in his introduction to his new volume of The Dead Celebrity Cookbook Presents Christmas in Tinseltown – Celebrity Recipes and Hollywood Memories for Six Feet Under the Mistletoe.

At two hundred and thirty-pages, this paperback book shows a black and white photograph of actress Joan Crawford carving a holiday turkey on the front cover. The back cover explains the book and has a short biography of the author including his photograph. With over sixty recipes, the book is ideally targeted to movie buffs that have a fixation with deceased actors and their lives, especially as it relates to foods they made during the holidays. Those from the Depression era might enjoy the book as most of the deceased are from the black and white movie era so Baby Boomers and younger generations may not know some movies, characters or artists.

The book is separated into fifteen chapters, usually themed by a specific movie or genre of film or song, each listing past performers. Besides a short biography of the artist and demise or other interesting information, one of his or her food recipes is written out with ingredients, preparation and cooking time. Unfortunately, there are few artist photographs and no finished meal photographs so one cannot visualize the artist or if they have duplicated the famous person’s meal. There are short, usually humorous Christmas tidbits in almost every chapter along with two complete Christmas and New Year’s Eve prepared meal menus and an extensive index that lists all titles and players by name and page mentioned.

From Edmund Gwenn’s (born 1877 and played the old elf in Miracle on 34th Street) non-alcoholic Christmas apple cider to Dick Clark’s (born 1929 and host of Times Square’s Countdown) spice turkey meatloaf to young Karen Carpenter’s (born 1950 and singer of Merry Christmas Darling) peach mabel, one can recreate past celebrities’ memories. In addition to Stan Laurel’s ham ring mold or Oliver Hardy’s baked apples with honey and almonds, readers can recall famous holiday movies and songs such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Christmas in Connecticut or The Christmas Song.

Some celebrities’ recipes are simplistic and mundane, unlike their onscreen personalities; others have panache with flavored findings of avocados, aromatic bitters, cream of tartar, leg of goat, whole peppercorns, or Marsala wine.

DeCaro, who plans his family’s Christmas dinner theme five years in advance, not only takes the reader back to the past holidays of film, song and dance of those celebrities who have gone before us, but finds a creative way to keep their memories alive, even at our dinner tables.


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