Bookshelves from the Pasadena Antique Mall
Great Los Angeles Reads
Here are a few of my favorite books about L.A. and some of its notables...
Suicide Blonde is a fascinating read about one of film noir's most wonderful fatales: Gloria Grahame. She starred in films like Crossfire, The Big Heat, In a Lonely Place and The Bad and the Beautiful (for which she won an Oscar.) She is probably most remembered for her role as the fallen-woman-with-a-heart-of-gold Violet in It's a Wonderful Life, but her personal life was far more scandalous than anything Violet may have been accused of. (Hint: her fourth marriage was to her stepson.)
Los Angeles: Portrait of a City is my absolute favorite photographic book on LA history. Including over 500 images, the book follows Los Angeles' emergence from a desert wasteland to a flower-laden, palm-studded metropolis. Some of my favorite photos highlight the early days of Hollywood.
The book is edited by Kevin Starr, whose brilliant California histories are must-have reads for anyone interested in the inspiring, outrageous, bizarre and sometimes corrupt background of the golden state.
L.A. Noir details a city sold to the world in the mid 20th Century as "the white spot of America." The land of sunny days, fruit trees, wholesome Midwestern values and glamorous movie stars was protected by the most famous police force in the world. It was also a land of crooked cops, corrupt newspapers, buyable politicians and enough gangsters to fill an underworld. In this setting we find two competitors fighting for the soul of L.A. -- the most notorious gangster vs. the most famous police chief. (This book was the basis of the short-lived TNT crime drama Mob City.)