Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest today, Sylvia Safran Resnick. Sylvia wrote many articles about Hollywood actors in the popular fan magazines between 1964 and 1974 after which weekly entertainment publications took over.
During her tenure as Associate Editor on Rona Barrett's Hollywood (1970-74) she was responsible for contributing four features month on popular film and television stars and wrote a television gossip column as well. Her assignments included covering various celebrity award events such as the Golden Globe, Emmy's and The Hollywood Women's Press Club of which she was a member for a number of years.
Throughout the late '70's she contributed monthly beauty and health article based upon the regimen of current television actors.
Among her many books published are Biography of Kristy McNichol published by New American Library, The Walton Family Cookbook and The Partridge Family Cookbook by Bantam in '70's. Bear Manor Media re issued the former in 2014.
A Biography of Burt Reynolds was published by St. Martin's Press in 1983 followed by a coffee table bio issued by W. H. Allen (UK).
A trilogy of YA mysteries, Debbie Preston Teenage Reporter that centered around the teen music idols of the '70's(The Jackson Brothers, David Cassidy and Donny Osmond ) by New American Library.
Bear Manor Media published her latest book, The Evolution of the Hollywood Heartthrobs in November, 2014.
Norm: Good day Sylvia and thanks for participating in our interview.
How did you get started in writing about popular film and television stars? Why were you attracted to writing about them?
Sylvia: As with many other young girls I wanted to be an actress and follow in my mother's footsteps who performed in The Yiddish Theater in New York and Chicago.
Several times I often sat through a movie especially if it starred a favorite actor. A family member introduced me to a young woman who wrote for the fan magazines. She, in turn, gave me a contact with the West Coast editor of Modern Screen and so began my fan magazine writing career. Fortunately, my first interview was with Annette Funicello and it was fun and very easy.
As I mentioned, my mother was in the theater and I had an aunt who was an avid autograph collector. She took me with her once to see an actor in person backstage. A real thrill and one I still have stored in my memory bank. She married a film editor whose mother was a stand in for Fay Bainter and cousin to David O'Selznick so it added another reason to be a fan of Hollywood.
Norm: What purpose do you believe your stories serve and what matters to you about the stories?
Sylvia: My stories garnered from my interviews showed a human side of the celebrities. Fans always want to read about their screen idols and I suppose what matters most to me is to give to them what they want- a peek into the real life of the "Hollywood Stars.”
Fans clamor for information about the stars they love. During the 60's and 70's they wanted to know about their love lives, their everyday life and anything that made them feel closer to these bigger then life people.I did my best to write about only the nice parts. Way before the intimacy of the Internet.
Norm: What was the most difficult thing for you writing about these celebrities?
Sylvia: The difficulties I encountered at the time was trying to pry words out of the mouths of actors who are great on screen, but are not always free with their words in person. And there were times when an actor I was interviewing would confide something personal that was not for publication, consequently I now have an inner safe of information that I will never divulge.
Occasionally, an actor would keep information from me that came out soon afterwards and this would make me feel none too friendly toward them. After all it was my job.
Norm: How did you go about gathering your material about these celebrities? How co-operative were your subjects?
Sylvia: I read studio bios (wonderfully exaggerated in many cases) as well as those sent to me by their private publicists. I usually made up a list of questions based on my own curiosity and sometimes about what was currently newsworthy.
If it was someone who was just starting out on a series or a new film we would talk a lot about that subject to start out, then I would move in to more personal matters, but always steering clear of anything too personal unless it was offered.
Many times we would just start gabbing and the material generated itself. Most of the actors I interviewed were cooperative unless there was a touchy personal situation they just didn't want to be questioned about. I always respected that request and sometimes put myself in the place of the actor's fans and took it from there.
For the most part everyone I have ever interviewed has been cooperative. There were a few I won't mention were not.
Norm: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing and do you have a specific writing style?
Sylvia: I was just enamored of Hollywood, no different from others in my generation. It epitomized glamour, excitement and fame. My childhood was on the traumatic side so movies were a wonderful place to escape and fantasize.
As to my writing style, I just write as I feel if that means anything.
Norm: What was it like to cover such events as the Golden Globe and the Emmy's?
Sylvia: Attending events such as the Golden Globes and the Emmy's were pinch myself assignments. Even as I interviewed the winners I found myself thinking ...is this really me standing so close and chatting with whoever it was.
Norm: If you had to choose, which three actors would you consider the most interesting to write about and why?
Sylvia: Leslie Neilsen who was charming, made me laugh especially when he stood and pulled up his pants legs to show me that his legs were bowed from the time he spent as a Northwest Mountie.
Burt Reynolds who shares an off the wall sense of humor with me and also shared the fact that he wanted so much to adopt a son, but couldn't because he was a single man. That was serious conversation. he also confided that he had a pet alligator named Fred and from there we just continued laughing through most of the interview. We became good friends.
James Brolin an easy interview and a lovely man. Our conversation was centered around his family, his then marriage and he answered my questions honestly and in a way that made me like him all the more because he didn't hold back.
There are a few more I could include but maybe another time. I've been very fortunate in the interviews I've done for the most part.
Norm: Can you share a little of your current book, The Evolution of the Hollywood Heartthrob?
Sylvia: It's a series of biographical highlights about many actors detailing facts about their boyhoods, schooling, how each one got started in his career, data about their romances, marriages, including insight into who they were in real life. I have also included anecdotes when possible to make the actor come alive. As examples, the idol who chose to wear women's nylon panties instead of men's undershorts because he found them to be more comfortable and the actor who spent most of his boyhood in an orphanage.
Norm: What served as the primary inspiration for the book and what would you say is the best reason to recommend someone to read the book?
Sylvia: Awhile back I started thinking about the differences in the salaries that were paid previously to actors compared to present day. I then thought about the magnificent men who graced the screen in past decades realizing how little they actually earned for the wonderful entertainment they provided us. This led me to research more and I saw how much not only salaries had changed, but the image portrayed on screen, even their personal lives were different. The book took shape but was a number of years before actually being published. I learned a great deal about some of my personal favorite heartthrobs.
Anyone intrigued by Hollywood will find the book filled interesting bits of similar type of information. I learned a great deal about my personal favorites while doing research for the book.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?
Sylvia: Readers can learn more about me by checking out MY WEBSITE. They'll find information on my career, some personal material and photos of me with various actors taken at events I have covered or just attended as a guest.
Norm: What is next for Sylvia Safran Resnick?
Sylvia: I am currently under contract to write an erotic historical romance novel set in Chicago 1947 when back alley gambling was raging.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Sylvia: I can't think of any question pertaining to our subject of today and I thank you so much Norm for your interest in my book and in me.
I would like to add that I am happy to send an autographed book sticker to any reader who requests it by sending an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors