Celebrities and Writers Featured by James Pepper Rare Books
By Michael Stillman
This month we review Catalogue 157 from James Pepper Rare Books. While this issue does not specify a topic, Pepper catalogues tend to carry many items related to celebrities of various sorts, be they from film, writing, politics or elsewhere. The film and theater arts appear to be a particular concentration, perhaps because so many of the people who achieve celebrity status come from these fields. There are also many books offered that became films, thereby reaching a mass audience not often achieved by the written word alone. Certainly, many of these works touch on popular culture, which makes them appealing to a wide audience. Here are a few samples.
Item 36 is a copy of Art Linkletter's 1960 autobiography, Confessions of a Happy Man, inscribed to his good friend Walt Disney and his wife. "For Lily & Walt," reads the inscription. "With affection and admiration and all the best wishes for your continued happiness." Linkletter hosted radio and TV shows for eons, being best remembered for interviewing children. He hosted the televised opening of Disneyland for Disney in 1955, and came back for the 50th anniversary in 2005. It is probably time for him to write a second autobiography, since it has been 47 years since the 94-year-old Linkletter completed the first. Priced at $150.
Item 70 is a notable piece of sheet music. It is the 1942 words and music by Irving Berlin for White Christmas. The song came from the film Holiday Inn. The cover shows images of the film's stars, including Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Bing Crosby's recording of White Christmas went on to be the greatest selling record ever recorded, while the film title was adopted by what became the largest chain of motels. $125.
Item 26 is a piece of sheet music I find a bit confusing. Pepper describes this 1925 printing as, "Sheet music with words and music for the song 'With You, Dear, in Bombay,' from the classic Charlie Chaplin silent film, The Gold Rush." How do you have music for a silent film? $150.
Speaking of silents, here is an item featuring the now obscure dancer and performer Doraldina, or Mme Doraldina (or, officially, Dora Saunders). She was a successful club performer in New York, who starred in a few silent films around 1920. Though likely born in San Francisco, she added an Hawaiian flavor to her act. Perhaps her most notable movie was "Passion Fruit," a 1921 film as forgotten as she is now today. She actually wrote one of her films, the 1920 classic "The Woman Untamed." In each film, Doraldina played an island princess. Perhaps her relatively short movie career can be attributed to her not reaching the big screen with her exotic beauty roles until she was already 30 years of age. The picture on page 2 of this article shows Doraldina in her exotic role, and also at Opening Day 1918 for the Oakland Oaks minor league baseball team, where she threw a few pitches and then posed with future hall of famer "Cap" (or "Pop") Anson. Item 121 is The Little Movie Mirror Book, a 1921 booklet published for Doraldina's fans, featuring a painting of her and a letter to her admirers (the pictures on page 2 are not from this booklet). $65.