If you've ever fantasized about feasting on Frank Sinatra's Barbecued Lamb, lunching on Lucille Ball's "Chinese-y Thing," diving ever-so-neatly into Joan Crawford's Poached Salmon, or wrapping your lips around Rock Hudson's cannoli – and really, who hasn't? – hold on to your oven mitts!
In The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: A Resurrection of Recipes by 150 Stars of Stage and Screen, Frank DeCaro—the flamboyantly funny Sirius XM radio personality best known for his six-and-a-half-year stint as the movie critic on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart—collects hundreds of recipes passed on from legendary stars of stage and screen, proving that before there were celebrity chefs, there were celebrities who fancied themselves chefs.
Their all-but-forgotten recipes—rescued from out-of-print cookbooks, musty biographies, vintage magazines, and dusty pamphlets—suggest a style of home entertaining ripe for reexamination if not revival, while reminding intrepid gourmands that, for better or worse, Hollywood doesn't make celebrities (or cooks) like it used to.
Starring Elizabeth Taylor's Chicken with Avocado and Mushrooms Farrah Fawcett's Sausage and Peppers Liberace's Sticky Buns Bette Davis's Red Flannel Hash Bea Arthur's Good Morning Mushroom Tomato Toast Dudley Moore's Crème Brûlée Gypsy Rose Lee's Portuguese Fish Chowder John Ritter's Famous Fudge Andy Warhol's Ghoulish Goulash Vincent Price's Pepper Steak Johnny Cash's Old Iron Pot Family-Style Chili Vivian Vance's Chicken Kiev Sebastian Cabot's Avocado Surprise Lawrence Welk's Vegetable Croquettes Ann Miller's Cheese Soufflé Jerry Orbach's Trifle Totie Fields's Fruit Mellow Irene Ryan's Tipsy Basingstoke Klaus Nomi's Key Lime Tart Richard Deacon's Bitter and Booze Sonny Bono's Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Frank DeCaro, author of The Dead Celebrity Cookbook, is heard each weekday morning on his own live national call-in program, The Frank DeCaro Show, on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, which now boasts more than 25 million subscribers. His radio guests have run the gamut from Justin Bieber to Ernest Borgnine, and his following across North America is as loyal as it is diverse. Known as both a writer and a performer, DeCaro pens the "Icons" column on vintage television for CBS's Watch! magazine. For years as a fashion editor, he wrote the "Style Over Substance" column for The New York Times. A graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, DeCaro has written for myriad publications including The New York Times Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Newsweek, Vogue, and TV Guide. As a performer, DeCaro has appeared on the ABC sitcom Cougar Town, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, The Joy Behar Show, and numerous talking-head programs. He is best known for his six-and-a-half-year stint as the movie critic on The Daily Show and a forty-episode run of the game show I've Got a Secret. In 2010, he cocreated the YouTube sensation "Betty White Lines," a rap tribute to the Golden Girls star which was featured on the Today show, Showbiz Tonight, and dozens of blogs, and got more than 100,000 hits in its first week online. In addition, the award-winning DeCaro is the author of the groundbreaking A Boy Named Phyllis: A Suburban Memoir, which Vanity Fair called "hilarious" and The Advocate credited as opening the door for David Sedaris and "the gay American humorist as everyman." His follow-up work, a coffee table biography called Unmistakably Mackie: The Fashion and Fantasy of Bob Mackie, earned a B+ in Entertainment Weekly. DeCaro lives with his husband, writer Jim Colucci, in New York City and suburban New Jersey. Visit the author at deadcelebritycookbook.com.
Make Room for Dinner Father may have known best on classic TV shows, but never in the kitchen. The breadwinner was never the bread baker in the '50s and '60s. Maybe TV was just reflecting the gender roles of the day, but cooking was usually a woman's job. You didn't see Howard Cunningham (Tom Bosley) at the stove on Happy Days. That was Mrs. C's bailiwick. (The show premiered in the 1970s, I know, but it was set in the 1950s.) If a family was lucky, or a wife was liberated, food preparation was the domestic's duty. Mike Brady (Robert Reed) and his wife Carol (Florence Henderson) had Alice (Ann B. Davis) to whip up pork chops and applesauce on The Brady Bunch. Danny Williams (Danny Thomas) charged Louise (Amanda Randolph) with making everything from lasagna to matzo ball soup on Make Room for Daddy. And Mrs. Livingston (Miyoshi Umeki) saw to it that Eddie (Brandon Cruz) and Mr. Eddie's Father (Bill Bixby) didn't starve on The Courtship of Eddie's Father. If you didn't want to hire someone, you could always play the widower card and rook a relative into kitchen duty. Steve Douglas (Fred MacMurray) and his Three Sons not only had Bub (William Frawley), but when he split, they got Uncle Charlie (William Demarest) to cook for them. Off screen, though, TV dads did cook. The men whose recipes appear in this chapter were secure enough in their manhood to don an apron, grab a spatula, and do it. If they can, so can you, Daddy-O. T V lovers remember him as the soft-spoken father on My Three Sons, but filmgoers know him best cast as the insurance agent in on the con in Double Indemnity. Working from the late 1920s to the late 1970s, MacMurray appeared in such varied fare as The Absent-Minded Professor and its sequel Son of Flubber, the stylish sex comedy The Apartment, and the killer-bee disaster movie, The Swarm. He is said to have valued time spent with his own family so much that he made sure all of his scenes for My Three Sons were shot first. That may have made life hell for his cast mates, but he sounds like a pretty good real-life dad. His pot roast is enough for three sons or more.
Fred MacMurray's Flemish Pot Roast In a heavy Dutch oven, brown meat in oil, turning to brown both sides. In a separate pan, sauté onions until pale golden color. Sprinkle with flour and cook 2 minutes. Pour in beer and bring to a boil, stirring. Then pour over meat. Add brown sugar, vinegar, bay leaf, garlic, and salt. Cover and simmer 2 hours, or until juices are slightly thickened. Strain juices into a bowl. Spoon onions into a vegetable bowl. Carve meat. Pass sauce and onions at the table with the meat.
4–5 pound beef chuck roast 1 tablespoon oil 4 medium onions, sliced 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons flour 1 (12-ounce) can of beer 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1 tablespoon vinegar 1 bay leaf 2 cloves garlic 1½ teaspoons salt 2 tablespoons parsley
Danny Thomas 1912-1991 As Danny Williams, the nightclub Comic and father on the long-running sitcom popularly known as Make Room for Daddy, Danny Thomas was a fixture on television for more than a decade, surviving one wife (Jean Hagen), getting another (Marjorie Lord) and, for a while, even playing pop to an Italian exchange student portrayed by Annette Funicello. He was dapper and funny and loud; and no one has ever done a better spit take. Behind the scenes, he was an executive producer on such TV series as The Mod Squad, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. As a real-life dad, he had an effect on television, too, by producing three children, two of whom, Marlo and Tony, went on to work in the business. Marlo starred in the early feminist sitcom That Girl, while Tony executive produced The Golden Girls. Danny Thomas's greatest accomplishment, though, was probably his founding of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a legacy to which his children dedicate themselves today. He was a proud Lebanese-American and his recipe for fatayer reflects that.
Last Bites Thomas liked to make cameo appearances on the series he produced. His most famous was on The Dick Van Dyke Show in an episode called 'It May Look Like a Walnut!'a sci-fi spoof featuring a closetful of walnuts and written by series creator Carl Reiner. Thomas played Kolak, an alien from the planet Twilo, in the 1963 installment of the classic comedy.
Danny Thomas's Fatayer Combine flour, oil, salt, dissolved yeast, and water and mix well. Knead until smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1½ hours. While dough is rising, combine lamb, onions, lemon juice, yogurt, pine nuts, and spices. Roll dough thin and cut out in 3-inch rounds. Fill dough patties with meat mixture. Shape into half moons, and score a vent for steam to escape. Place on a greased baking sheet, brush tops with oil and bake in a 375° oven for one hour.
8 cups flour 3 tablespoons oil 1 tablespoon salt 1 packet cake yeast, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water 2½–3 cups lukewarm water 3 pounds lamb, coarsely ground 4 medium onions, chopped fine 1–2 cups fresh lemon juice ½ cup plain yogurt ¾ cup pine nuts, sautéed lightly in butter Salt, pepper, and allspice, to taste
"Frank DeCaro has the most delectable treats I've ever tasted -- and the recipes aren't bad either! My dying wish is to have one of my recipes in The Dead Celebrity Cookbook II. Anyone for the Queen of Mean's 'So-Good-You'll-Slap-Yo-Mama Chicken 'n Waffles'?" --Lisa Lampanelli, comedienne
Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
"Hankering for star-powered recipes? With this laugh-out-loud encyclopedia of Hollywood culinaria, Frank DeCaro brings out the real 'celebrity chefs' in spades. Or with a spade." -- Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, best-selling authors of more than twenty cookbooks including Lobsters Scream When You Boil Them and 100 Other Myths About Food and Cooking.
"Frank DeCaro has the most delectable treats I've ever tasted and the recipes aren't bad either! My dying wish is to have one of my recipes in The Dead Celebrity Cookbook II. Anyone for the Queen of Mean's 'So-Good-You'll-Slap-Yo-Mama Chicken 'n Waffles'?" Lisa Lampanelli, comedienne
"I love these dead celebrities! They're the stars I grew up watching and they deserve to be remembered even if they were more talented on screen than they were in the kitchen. Frank clearly worships them as much as I do, and after reading The Dead Celebrity Cookbook you will, too." -- Rosie O'Donnell
"I adore this book so much I find myself on the horns of a dilemma--make the recipes or kill myself so I can be in the sequel." -- Brini Maxwell, author of Brini Maxwell's Guide to Gracious Living and creator of felixpopuli.com.
"Celebrities die--eventually--but their recipes live on thanks to Frank DeCaro's thorough and thoroughly delicious book. DeCaro's dry wit is tasty, and judging from these yummy concoctions, most of these celebs died really happy!"--Michael Musto, Village Voice
"Finally, Frank DeCaro has put his sick obsession with dead celebs to some good use! Hilarious and bursting with usable recipes. Even if you do not know how to turn on the toaster oven, you will adore this gossip-filled cackle-fest." -- Simon Doonan, author of GAY MEN DON'T GET FAT.
"Frank DeCaro's two obsessions - food and the famous - have been hilariously united in The Dead Celebrity Cookbook. Reading Frank is like breaking your diet with your funniest best friend." – Bob Smith, author of Remembrance of Things I Forgot.