During the Golden Age of Hollywood, everyone was familiar with the gossip columnists: Hedda Hopper, Louella Parsons, Walter Winchell, and Harry Pennypacker. You’ve never heard of Harry Pennypacker? Don’t worry, no one has heard of Pennypacker. His stories were so hot that they could have ruined the careers of some well-known stars, so his editors buried them. Years later, author Michael B. Druxman was given access to Pennypacker’s files, and from these files, he shares some of the juiciest stories in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: From the Secret Files of Harry Pennypacker. Pennypacker’s career started in Chicago, where he stumbled upon a sensational story about Charles Lindbergh. His editor buried the story because Lindbergh was a national hero, and they couldn’t verify the story’s source. Finally, his editor sent him to the one place where Pennypacker could write all the sensational stories he wanted: Hollywood.
While it would have been simpler just to fire him, Pennypacker had an ironclad contract. He ended up writing the TV listings, but he was always looking for the next big story. The first came from the men’s bathroom at Warner Brothers Studios, where he ran into John Wayne, or was it John Wayne? Pennypacker’s investigation leads him to Mendel Skulnick, a make-up genius. Was Skulnick really John Wayne? Unfortunately, Wayne was an icon, and the story was quickly covered. Furious, Pennypacker headed to Mexico, where he woke up in a Mexican bar, playing the guitar and singing. He met Oscar Agnew, an out-of-work recording engineer who knew a big secret about the King, Elvis Presley. It turns out, the voice the public heard wasn’t Elvis’ voice, and Oscar knew Colonel Tom Parker’s dirty little secret. But Agnew was paid hush money, and Pennypacker’s story was buried yet again. Pennypacker spent years trying to get his stories published, but it was hard when he was fighting not only the editor, but the studio heads (Jack Warner and Louis B. Mayer), even the U.S. Government (this involves Harpo Marx and the REAL reason he always wore his top hat and never talked). Fortunately, he kept copies of all his stories, which were passed on to Druxman. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood takes the reader for a wild ride through the hidden secrets of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, from James Dean and Marilyn Monroe to W.C. Fields and Mae West. It is full of humor, plenty of laughs and leaves you wondering what would have happened if these stories had gotten out. Note: This book is a parody.