Googie's, Coffee Shop to the Star… a Review!

14 Sep

From Tom McNulty

Steve Hayes serves up a deluxe memoir in two volumes with “Googies: Coffeeshop to the Stars” (Bear Manor Media, $24.95). Arriving in Hollywood in 1949 with dreams of becoming a movie star, young Ivan Hayes embarked upon an odyssey of self discovery and adventure that no screenwriter could have dreamed up.

            This remarkable memoir is loaded with anecdotes, none of which I’ll repeat here because I hope you’ll support this author and purchase both volumes. Suffice it to say, in these pages you’ll encounter Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Alan Ladd, Lana Turner, Ernest Hemingway and even Aldous Huxley among many others.

            For a decade Steve supported himself as an actor, manager of the Googies coffeeshop adjacent to Schwab’s Pharmacy, and by taking jobs as they were offered. Along the way he met and often befriended many of Hollywood’s popular stars. His insight into these personalities goes against the grain of what you’ll normally encounter in books where the allure relates directly to the geek fan base salivating for more celebrity gossip. What Steve Hayes has accomplished is the creation of a memoir lacking in egotism and animosity. What I appreciate is this man’s honesty when talking about his successes and failures, and his unabashed look back at an era he knew was ending even as he experienced it. There is an underlying tone of sadness, but without being maudlin. I was particularly taken by his sensitivity when talking about his marriages, girlfriends and friendship with the stars he encountered. For example, his view on Clark Gable is right on, and ultimately heartbreaking. Ditto with Flynn, Ladd and others.

            He devotes ample space to Errol Flynn, a man that Hayes admits remains his idol, but he avoids the idolatry as well as the gossip. No truer portrait of Flynn has hitherto been published. Here is Flynn the writer, the caring father, the raging alcoholic, the talented actor, the man’s man who took care of his friends while sometimes also letting them down. First hand accurate accounts have always been scarce and that’s what makes “Googies: Coffeeshop to the Stars” such a valuable resource for fans and scholars alike. Steve Hayes wrote it down the way it happened and the result is a smorgasbord of insight, layered with a generous portion of compassion. That’s a rare and delectable combination.

            Steve Hayes has a big heart that complements his talent – he’s a successful novelist and screenwriter – and forgive the cliché, but I couldn’t put his book down. He was there at the tail end of a Golden Era, sparkling with talent, sex appeal, hard work, humorous escapades, tragic loss and epic voyages, but it’s no mistake that section three of volume two is titled “The Decline of Camelot.”

            The book is prefaced by a short but fascinating piece titled “I Remember Googies” by John Saxon. “Googies: Coffeeshop to the Stars” offers an authentic look back at a bygone era and we can be thankful the author is such a splendid raconteur. Kudos to Steve Hayes for taking the time to pen such a heartfelt and fascinating memoir.

— Thomas McNulty

— David DeWitt

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  1. Anonymous

    September 16, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Dear Steve (and Tom)-
    I received my volume 1 yesterday and was going to drop a line to you today, but I see that The Magnificent McNulty, has already struck, and hit CENTER target- what a marksman!
    And while I'm at it- so are you Steve!
    As I am “giving” this to myself, through another- I couldn't help it. I took a peek, and then had to read the WHOLE chapter on Flynn. I then jumped back to the front and read the Saxon intro- and all I can say is McNulty tells no tales because it's simply a fact … that not only are you a WONDERFUL describer, joining the other eyewitnesses of the past (Wiles, Walsh, Quinn, Cody, Nora, and Rory- just to name a few) but offering your own unique glimpse into what it was like, to be in the company of this man. And from all that I can tell, so far- it will be among the VERY BEST!
    As volume one deals with the early part of acquaintance, the promise of the second is of a closer view, and your skill in “atmospheric” writing, brings the reader there right beside you!
    I can't wait for “our” next visit.
    Best regards, and … thank you for WRITING THIS BOOK!