Movie Book Haul: More Celebrity Cookbooks, Film History & Other Geekery

I’m back with another book haul! I must say that this little stack of books is one of the most interesting I have ever purchased. I hope you enjoy the tour!

Cine Goes to Town: French Cinema 1896-1914 by Richard Abel

This is right up my alley! Nice, oversized paperback covers the most fascinating period of French film, at least in my opinion. The book is chronological and covers the evolution of movies in France from the dawn of projected film to the rise of features and the start of WWI. Looking forward to diving in!

Get more info and order a copy here.

Fort Lee: The Film Town by Richard Koszarski

Another oversized paperback, this one covering the center of motion picture production in the United States. No, not Hollywood, Fort Lee! I always enjoy Koszarski’s writing and this book came highly recommended.

Learn more and order a copy here.

Cook Book of the Stars by Helena Renaud

This one isn’t a celebrity cookbook. Rather, it’s a regular cookbook from 1941 with assorted celebrities naming which recipe they like. Contains the unfortunate revelation that Humphrey Bogart liked Manhattan clam chowder. Blech!

Learn more and order a copy here.

Cookbook of the Stars edited by Motion Picture Mothers

Just to make things confusing, this one IS a celebrity cookbook put out for charity. It’s from 1970 so silent stars are a bit thin on the ground but they are still in evidence.

Learn more and order a copy here.

Foods and Fashions of 1936

A thin booklet that boasts recipes from top 1930s celebrities and some interesting fashion images. Small but interesting.

Learn more and order a copy here.

Sincerely Yours: A Collection of Recipes of Well-Known Persons

This was a limited 750 copy printing from 1942 designed to raise money for the war effort. Most of the participants are authors, graphic designers and musicians but there are a few film stars. Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish and Bette Davis all contribute recipes. Gorgeous design (naturally) if you’re into the mid-century aesthetic.

Learn more and order a copy here.

The Stag Cook Book: A Man’s Cook Book for Men by C. Mac Sheridan

Who is this cookbook for? I just can’t figure it out…

So, you’re saying it’s for men?

Oh my. Someone is bitter. Didn’t the ladies like your cherpumple, Mr. Sheridan? Gee, it must be hard to have people telling you that you can’t succeed at something because of your chromosomes. My heart bleeds. Just bleeds. #MasculinitySoFragile

In all seriousness, I think anyone who wants to cook should be encouraged to do so and gender should have nothing to do with it but this book seems to be rather overcompensating, don’t you think?

Celebrity participants include Charlie Chaplin, Houdini, Douglas Fairbanks, Will Hays, Warren G. Harding, John Philip Sousa and Thomas Ince.

Here are some of the recipes offered forth by these esteemed men for men (stinky girls keep out!):

Fried Elderberry Blossoms

Raspberry Shortcake

Tomato Wiggle

Rum-Tum-Tiddy

Cocoa Cream Cake

The recipes are slapdash and confusing despite claims of “blueprint precision” by the marketing department. Author Booth Tarkington helpfully offered up his recipe for corn flakes. (You eat them in a bowl with milk.) George Ade betrays the whole premise by proclaiming that he has no idea how to cook and that scalloped oysters, his dish of choice, can only be made by women over 30. He does not elaborate on the specifics of age but Mr. Sheridan was not amused.

I hope a gentleman reader can enlighten me as to what exactly makes these recipes suitable for the mancave. I think I speak for most of the women here when I say that raspberry shortcake should be shared regardless of gender.

Inspired by Mr. Sheridan’s obvious issues, I decided that I had to write something a little fancier than just a book synopsis. Please enjoy my first foray into play authorship since around the seventh grade.

The Dinner

A One Act Play

C. Mac Sheridan enters wearing a gingham apron and a chef’s hat at a jaunty angle. He carries toy rabbit.

Sheridan: (addressing rabbit) Well, they said that it couldn’t be done, Penelope, but we’ll show those women that a man can cook!

The doorbell rings, Sheridan answers. Two glamorous women authors, Beulah and Carlotta, sweep in dressed in furs.

Beulah: What’s this about a surprise, Sheridan?

Carlotta: You have us on pins and needles, old thing!

Sheridan: Well, I was just telling Penelope that I am about to show you that men are superior to women in every way, including as cooks.

Beulah and Carlotta look at one another and roll their eyes.

Beulah: Oh, this again.

Carlotta: You still haven’t fixed the floor from when you tried to prove you could mop better than any woman.

Beulah: Next time dilute the bleach, Sheridan.

Sheridan: You laugh now but just wait until you are worshiping my glorious souffle!

Carlotta: Hold your horses, buckaroo, we’re not even going steady.

Sheridan lifts the lid from a large plate. Inside is a souffle dish with a sad lump of dough at the bottom. It is flanked by a burnt chicken and a lopsided cake.

Beulah: I think I can wait to eat that souffle.

Carlotta: (lifts the blackened chicken with a thumb and forefinger) You said we would be eating crow, Sheridan, but I had no idea you were being literal.

Sheridan: (throws his arm over his face) Oh, you women with your raillery and sarcasm! This would have been my chef-d’oeuvre but for your feminine cruelty! I’ll show you, I’ll show you all!

Carlotta: (whispers to Beulah) He can be such a baby.

Beulah: We’ll see you around, Sheridan. We’re just going to buy some tamales from that woman at the corner.

Both depart.

Sheridan: Woman! They think that because they have mastered tamales, they can hold it over we poor men. At least you understand me, Penelope. Ah, an excellent plan, my flopsy friend. I’ll gather together the finest recipes from the smartest men and then we’ll see. Mark my words, the female sex will rue the day when they made fun of my delicious cooking! (Takes a huge bite of chicken. Gags.)

Curtain.

You can order copies of The Stag Cook Book here. I will be attempting to sell my play to Broadway or Hollywood. I’m sure agents will be beating down my door the moment I hit the publish button. (The cookbook is also available on archive.org but I prefer a print book for cooking.)

Favorite Recipes of Famous Women

I am not the only one who found C. Mac Sheridan’s bizarre rantings to be hilarious. A few years later, Florence Stratton wrote the introduction for Favorite Recipes of Famous Women in which she claimed that Sheridan’s cooking sent her to the hospital and caused permanent damage to her digestive system. She counters with a selection of recipes from famous women.

Most are wives of senators, wives of governors, wives of ambassadors but there are a few women famous in their own right. The movie stars include all three Talmadge sisters, Mary Pickford (she never missed one of these things), Agnes Ayres, Lila Lee and Gloria Swanson.

Other famous women included Helen Keller, Zelda Fitzgerald and Lulu McAulay. Who? Why, the sheriff of Bad Axe, Michigan, of course! According to newspaper accounts of the time, she was the first woman to hold such a post in the state of Michigan. (Seriously, that is soooooooo awesome that I must bake her delectable-sounding fruit cookies immediately! Also, Hollywood, where is the biopic for this woman?)

Sorry, Sheridan, the chicks win this round. (By the way, here is an interesting article about this book from the Paris Review.)

This book is VERY hard to find so if you see a copy, grab it. I’m linking to its sales page so you can keep an eye out for it. I feel fortunate to have secured a copy with dust jacket for a reasonable price.

The Joy of Cooking (1931 Facsimile Edition)

This isn’t a movie star cookbook but I got it for an important reason: I needed a control. Anyone testing celebrity foods requires a proper cookbook from the era that would tell me if a recipe was common or bonkers. And what better book than the bestseller of the twentieth century? I am very much enjoying it, by the way. Many of the recipes are familiar but there are some nods to the Depression, little details on how to make the 1930s food dollar stretch. Interesting stuff for history buffs and food nerds.

You can learn more and order a copy here.

10 Replies to “Movie Book Haul: More Celebrity Cookbooks, Film History & Other Geekery”

  1. Yes, Tomato Wiggle will put hair on your chest. We make our own aspic gelatin from bones of the elks that we hunt with just a knife.

  2. Agnes Ayres, I love her! I also am anxious to see if Connie Talmadge has a recipe without grapenuts. Lila Lee, Gloria Swanson, Bette Davis, Mary Pickford! I am excited for new recipes!!!!

  3. MY book haul (of an hour or so ago):

    “Alfred Hitchcock and the British Cinema” Tom Ryall

    “Napoleon: Abel Gance’s Classic Film” Kevin Brownlow

    And in storage, should be in shop in the next few days:

    “Behind the Mask of Innocence” Kevin Brownlow.

    Not sure why I’ve been neglecting this excellent little village bookshop which is 30 minutes up the mountain from me; drawn to the bright lights and Amazon too often, perhaps.

  4. Harrumph! Not dusty. The owner has a strong leaning towards the arts. And a good eye for remainders, judging by the condition of the Hitchcock book: as new.

    Bonus is a short walk to the spectacular Wentworth Falls along the path that Charles Darwin took on his visit to the Blue Mountains.

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