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Starmaker: Life as a Hollywood Publicist with Farrah, the Rat Pack and 600 More Stars Who Fired Me

( 5 )


His women were tens, his guns were .38s, and his collection of jewel-encrusted walking canes numbered in the hundreds. For nearly 50 years, Jay Bernstein was a Hollywood fixture, owning one of the most powerful PR firms in Hollywood, making stars of Farrah Fawcett and Suzanne Somers, and producing dozens of television films and series. Future Hollywood insider Jay Bernstein was born outside – way outside – Tinseltown, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on June 7, 1937. But Bernstein, helped by his pals the Rat Pack, ...

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His women were tens, his guns were .38s, and his collection of jewel-encrusted walking canes numbered in the hundreds. For nearly 50 years, Jay Bernstein was a Hollywood fixture, owning one of the most powerful PR firms in Hollywood, making stars of Farrah Fawcett and Suzanne Somers, and producing dozens of television films and series. Future Hollywood insider Jay Bernstein was born outside – way outside – Tinseltown, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on June 7, 1937. But Bernstein, helped by his pals the Rat Pack, eventually found his way from the mailrooms of Hollywood to owning a top agency that represented over 600 A-List stars in the ’60s and ’70s. Bernstein’s creative PR stunts made him as famous as his clients, such as paying women to throw hotel keys at Tom Jones and having Entertainment Tonight host Mary Hart’s legs insured by Lloyd’s of London for one million dollars. Bernstein died, with Farrah Fawcett by his side, in 2006 after suffering a stroke. Starmaker is Bernstein’s own behind-the-scenes look at his life – the life of an outrageous Hollywood personality, and the stars who surrounded him. It is a true Hollywood memoir, written in Bernstein’s voice by his closest confidante Larry Cortez Hamm.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
One of the most famous Hollywood talent managers during the 70s, Bernstein helped create the Farrah Fawcett phenomenon, and launched Suzanne Somers, among many others. He crafts his memoirs as the story of a young man from Oklahoma entranced by Hollywood, who moves to California certain he will make it—and then works diligently every day for the next several decades to get to the top. Though the smart, savvy Bernstein goes through rough times, he rarely loses sight of the need to get media attention for his clients. However, he is also unapologetically chauvinist and dismissive of people that he perceives as being of little worth—particularly female executives who may not like the kinds of shows he tries to put together—and lacking the capacity for introspection. Though readers searching for juicy details about the "secret" life of Farrah Fawcett or Frank Sinatra will learn some juicy details here, they will have to wade through Bernstein's shallow musings. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

"If you like insider stories about Hollywood and its stars, then you will love Starmaker. You may as well pick up a couple of extra copies for Christmas gifts because there are, no doubt, others in your life who will also thoroughly enjoy the book." —

"[Starmaker] tells a cautionary tale about the pitfalls and perils of Tinsletown . . . an insider's look at the glamorous world we all perceive Hollywood to be." —

"Written with style and a sense of humor, this autobiography shares the intimate details of Jay Bernstein's fascinating life." —

"Bernstein shares all the gossip of the stars from his viewpoint. It is a story, whether all true, or whether embellished in line with his tactics originally promoting them to stardom, which will pull readers in for a not previously seen glimpse of the stars." —San Francisco Book Review (September 2011)

"Readers searching for juicy details about the "secret" life of Farrah Fawcett or Frank Sinatra will learn some juicy details here." —Publishers Weekly (September 19, 2011)

Library Journal
Hollywood public relations man Bernstein (who died in 2006) here recounts his experiences promoting celebrities and launching star trajectories. Completely involved with his profession, he shares the highs and lows of his life's work. He worked with the Rat Pack—Frank Sinatra was "terrible," and Sammy Davis Jr. affable—and the success of Farrah Fawcett and Suzanne Somers are among the highlights of his career. He pays particular attention to Fawcett, who was catapulted to fame with her swimsuit poster and Charlie's Angels. Bernstein shares his war stories in a relaxed style as if we've met him for lunch. He had various axes to grind (the firings of the title) and can seem a bit catty. An old-school type who enjoyed his run while it lasted, he also promoted Linda Evans in Dynasty and got the legs of Entertainment Tonight's Mary Hart insured by Lloyds for a million. VERDICT For readers interested in what a career in public relations in Hollywood is like and in celebrity culture.—Barb Kundanis, Longmont P.L., CO
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781770410121
  • Publisher: ECW Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2011
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 13.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jay Bernstein was a legendary Hollywood publicist, personal manager, producer, and director. Larry Cortez Hamm was a ghostwriter of screenplays, newspaper and magazine articles, and autobiographies. David Rubini is a writer, publicist, and executive producer residing in Los Angeles.

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Read an Excerpt

Farrah was a model turned television actress turned celebrity star turned phenomenon. She was the festival’s biggest attraction since Brigitte Bardot in 1956. It took us three hours to get through the crowd at Nice. Then we motored to Cannes, where we drove through backstreets and alleys until we arrived at a small villa in a clump of villas in the hills above the town. Mel had taken care of everything, which included five security guards for Farrah.

I don’t remember the exact schedule—it was five days of hectic activity—but before we arrived in Cannes proper, we went to a party on Stavros Niarchos’s yacht. I had met Niarchos in Africa with Bill Holden and I would meet him a third time with Suzanne Somers. His yacht was spectacular, so big that a helicopter sitting on its pad looked like a speck. It was a floating hotel laden with art, including the famous Andy Warhol painting of Elvis Presley hanging over Stavros’s screening–room door. Unfortunately, Farrah became seasick.

With rare exception, I did not get involved romantically with clients. I had not lied to Charlotte Rampling, but Cannes was different. It was so romantic in the hills overlooking the city that I considered making a play for Farrah. We had our own little villa with a fireplace and candles flickering like fireflies in the night. As I watched her glide about, I could hardly keep myself at bay. At last, however, my head won out over my heart. I refrained from making a move because I wanted Farrah to continue thinking I was the smartest person alive. If I made a move and failed (and I’m sure I would have), I would be reduced in her eyes to a stupid dreamer.

Being at Cannes meant you had to attend a screening at the Palais des Festivals. We were told explicitly, “If Farrah doesn’t go to the Palais, we will never show a film of hers, ever.”

It was not an idle threat. An official said, “Raquel Welch didn’t go, and her films were thereafter barred.” It was tacit, but a law nevertheless. When you accept the invitation, you are expected to participate. We went to the Palais.

I don’t remember what was being screened; it made no difference. I should have realized something eventful was on the horizon from the elaborate planning that went into our traffic route. We changed cars four times, so we wouldn’t be followed.

We drove first to the Carlton Hotel, where Mel’s people had reserved a suite of rooms. While Farrah was getting ready, I went to the casino to rid myself of some money. As I was returning to Farrah’s suite, I ran into Robin Leach and invited him to join us.

The invitation was a mistake. When Farrah saw Robin, she picked up the only handy item (a banana, fortunately) and threw it. Bingo! She hit him in the forehead. Then she began to curse him for a story he had written in the Star. The incident presaged a night of horrors.

Finally we went to the theater. Thousands were waiting on the sidewalk and street in front of the Palais. José Eber, Farrah’s hairdresser, was with us. He was so intimidated that he wouldn’t get out of the limousine: “It’s too dangerous!”

I looked at Farrah. Fear was written on her face too. But we had to make an appearance, so I edged the door open. The crowd fell back, and I helped Farrah out. We took only two steps before the crowd swarmed us like bees at a hive. Frantic, Farrah turned back to the limousine. “Oh, my God!” she cried. “It’s gone!”

It wasn’t. The throng that encircled us camouflaged it. We had been promised police protection, but the cops seemed scant. In fact, the entire Cannes force was on duty, all seventy–eight of them! The horde was simply too great for the meager force to contain, although they tried gallantly.

We edged toward the theater like snails. Somehow the police formed a cordon around us. Behind them were the paparazzi, and behind the photographers were the fans, thousands from around the globe, pressing toward us. When we reached the steps leading up to the theater, I thought we were home free. Then it happened. The crowd surged, the paparazzi fell forward, and the police line broke. Tiers of people began to fall upon each other, pushed by the weight of the crowd behind them. A vise was closing. I tried to shield Farrah with my body, and was hit in the head by a camera. It was scary, like a scene from The Day of the Locust.

At last the cops managed to form a line in front of us and a line behind us, moving us inch by inch until we reached an elevator. The door opened and they shoved us in. We stayed caged until they cleared the gallery of spectators from the actual theater entrance; then they came for us and escorted us into the lobby of the Palais.

During the screening I made arrangements for us to exit the theater through a back door. For once the festival officials didn’t stick to protocol. They agreed, and we had a heavy police escort back to the Carlton.

The next day a police captain came to see me. “Please, we hope you won’t say anything about the incident last night,” he said.

I had no intention of saying anything, but I was surprised to be sought out, considering that hundreds of journalists and photographers had been present. It turned out that several people had been crushed and killed. “If it gets out,” said the policeman, “no one will want to come to Cannes.”

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Customer Reviews

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( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2014


    Remember, stay strong whatever people say. They might say its constructive critisium, but most tikes its not.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2014


    Kk, I'll watch out..

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  • Posted October 22, 2012

    A highly enjoyable read

    I had heard some excerpted stories from this book and they were compelling enough to make me want to read them for myself. Did you know how the whole panty-throwing thing started with Tom Jones? Did you know how complicated Farrah Fawcett's career was? These are things I never found particularly interesting, but once I picked up the book I honestly couldn't put it down.

    The narrative does get a bit wordy at times (I did find myself skipping over some tedious details). Jay Bernstein led a life that I would never want for myself and as someone who doesn't follow Hollywood I normally don't care about. The stories he tells though, make you want to know detail after detail and this book doesn't keep anything from you.

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  • Posted December 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    I am not one for tell-all books, but this one kept me coming back. I was amazed at all Jay Bernstein saw and experienced in his life - however as the book quotes in the beginning: "If the reader prefers this book may be regarded as fiction...." - Hemingway.

    As a consequence I wonder how much is exaggerated, invented or just omitted. Certainly Bernstein admits that other biographies represent individual accounts differently.

    Regardless this book is fun, and interesting, and well worth reading. Even if it is fiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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