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Our very own gossip columnist David Hartnell grew up in a secure but unremarkable suburban life. His interest in things colourful and theatrical led him to championship roller skating and cabaret. On his big OE, he landed a job in Australia and then in the heart of the London cosmetics industry, and eventually attended to the makeup needs of A-listers. He went on to New York and Los Angeles where his career took a new course. Returning home in the mid-seventies led to screen appearances as a purveyor of celebrity gossip, and he continued to travel frequently backwards and forwards to Hollywood.
David rapidly became established as New Zealand’s number 1 celebrity gossip columnist on television, radio and print. His visits to Hollywood established his credentials until he became an encyclopaedia of trivia and scandal about the rich and famous – and the public lapped up every word. Today no one in New Zealand is recognised as knowing more about Hollywood. Not only has he spent a lifetime reporting on Hollywood gossip, but he now counts a handful of international celebrities among his lifelong friends.
But behind the glitter and the showbiz glamour, David’s story also reveals the private strains he has experienced behind the ever-confident public face. He writes about damaging family secrets, being bullied because he was gay, two name changes and being sued for defamation by a prominent New Zealand singer. Bursting with remarkable photos and stories of his encounters, including a surprise lunch with Alfred Hitchcock and Bette Davis, his close friendship with the legendary Phyllis Diller, little-known secrets about the Royal Family’s crown jewels and many, many more, this book is for anyone who loves behind-the-scenes gossip.
This book is captivating and compellingly written. Of course it name drops. Why not? In fact, in such a memoir, it’s mandated (or woman-dated) that you drop names and spill secrets. But it’s not done in a vicious way, but in loving revelations that show that celebrities, just like all of us, are flawed. This picture-laden 192-page book will leave you panting for a sequel.