On the Street of Dreams
Everyone is writing books. That is not a lead-in to O.J. Simpson, who has also written--well, dictated--a book. It will be the first ever printed to bear the bylines of its author, his ghostwriter and five lawyers.
I’m talking about everyone other than O.J. You don’t have to be a writer to do a book. I took a poll at a party the other night where there were no writers, only real people. Not one of them owned a corduroy jacket with leather elbow patches.
But three were writing novels, two were writing autobiographies, and one was writing a pornographic cookbook. I never knew broccoli could be so erotic. Cauliflower, yes, but broccoli?
Dave Resnik is also writing a book. He is an old-time Hollywood press agent who is writing about, what else, old-time Hollywood.
We met at Musso and Frank’s restaurant, which is about as old-time Hollywood as you can get, and were waited on by a waiter named Eppy, who has been there since the early Cenozoic.
Resnik’s book will be called “The Client List” and will contain stories and anecdotes about the 22 movie stars he represented during a 12-year career he managed to drink himself out of.
“I used to be a bad drunk,” he said, belting back two Jacks on the rocks at Musso and Frank. “Now I can have a couple and walk away from it.”
He is a man of 61 with the intensity of a chicken hawk, who slips into ersatz French and Japanese while telling a story. He used the fake French on Eppy, who just grunted and went his way. He’s heard it all before, even in fake French.
I was supposed to meet with Resnik alone, but he brought an Australian model with him named Tamara Bailey. I suspect she was a prop.
When I told my wife, Cinelli, about her, she said, “Why is it you always end up meeting with hookers, strippers or models?” I don’t know.
Resnik kept touching Bailey’s face with the back of his hand and remarking on how beautiful she was. Bailey seemed not to notice. Only when he said it in fractured Japanese did she smile.
He talked about Judy Garland, whom he represented for a year. “She tried suicide at least three times a week,” he said. “ Le enchere , you know? It was a 24-hour job. I found her once with her head in the toilet.
“It was in Vegas. She was supposed to go on, but she was totally incoherent. I said, ‘Put Ray Bolger on standby.’ Judy couldn’t walk or talk and was slobbering.
“Then I had an idea. I called a hypnotist. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. He went in and came out 10 minutes later, and she was radiant! It was a miracle! Yamagato Fujiyama!”
Bailey’s boyfriend is a professional volleyball player. “I didn’t know you could make money doing that,” I said.
“Oh, yes,” she said. That was it.
“Bouilier le maudiere, " Resnik purred, touching her face.
“How did Judy Garland do?” I asked.
“She was great,” he said, turning abruptly from Bailey to a ground sirloin steak. “Never better.”
“How’s the steak?”
“Osaka okiyama! " he replied.
Resnik was Steve McQueen’s roommate in reform school and bunked with James Dean for awhile. Since they are both dead, I can’t check that out, but truth is not a serious factor when you are talking about Hollywood.
Greer Garson was his favorite. No doubt les douzaine, to paraphrase Resnik. She asked him once to show some friends around town. It turned out to be the Shah of Iran and his entourage.
“We went to the Warner’s studio in a parade of limos,” Resnik said, licking ketchup from his fingers. “I’d worked in their mail room for awhile and was fired by the man in charge. When I visited there with the Shah, the U.S. chief of protocol introduced me to the guy who’d fired me. He swallowed hard and said, ‘Pleased to meet you, sir.’ Talk about your deja etre jour. “
It was a time of parties, sex and hard liquor. A little white wine had not been invented yet. Drunks and dreamers abounded.
“The Client List” will be Resnik’s journey through all that, if it is ever published. “I knew them all,” Resnik said, finishing his last Jack Daniels on the rocks. “I could make $15 million on this. There’s a movie of the week in Judy Garland alone.”
He shook his head and muttered, “Sacre mazamura. “
Bailey smiled and nodded.