As teenagers, Jewish St. Paul native David Fantle and his co-author, Tom Johnson, wrote letters to some of Hollywood’s Golden Age legends and secured interviews. In 1978, the precocious journalists flew out to L.A. and conducted interviews with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, which opened doors to subsequent chats with the likes of James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, Lucille Ball, Debbie Reynolds, George Burns, Rod Steiger, Milton Berle, Frank Capra, Hoagy Carmichael, et al.
They recently published their second volume of show business interviews, Hollywood Heyday: 75 Candid Interviews with Golden Age Legends.
Fantle and Johnson will talk about their star-studded book Thursday, July 19, at the St. Paul JCC.
“This is a fine example of the kind of book I love to have on the bedside table, for bedtime,” Dick Cavett gushed about Hollywood Heyday, which features a foreword by film star Robert Wagner. “Also, for morning and for insomnia. These profiles are so well done that it’s hard not to go on to just one more and be late for work.”
Fantle is an adjunct professor in film and pop culture at Marquette University and lives in Milwaukee, Wisc. Johnson, who was a senior editor at Netflix and has written for many periodicals and online sites, lives in Los Angeles. — Mordecai Specktor