Hollywood Behind the Scenes
In flashbacks, Dawson does a fine job bringing WWII-era Los Angeles to life. Publishers Weekly (2/28/11)
What now remains of Hollywood's Golden Era? A wealth of publicity materials was distributed nationwide to theaters, but they were usually treated as rubbish and disposed of when each movie finished its run. However, a surprising number of posters, still production photos, lobby cards, inserts, title cards, and the like have survived, and some of these memorabilia are of enormous value to collectors. Like any objects of value, these occasionally motivate crimessometimes even murder.
PI Jeri Howard scours Northern California from the Bay Area to Sonoma County to the Eastern Sierra, trying to connect events of sixty years ago with the murder of a prominent arts patron and avid collector of Hitchcock memorabiliaand learns a lot about her grandmothers years as a bit player in Hollywood along the way. With frequent flashbacks to the late 1930s and early 40s, Bit Player features the life of bit player Jerusha Layne, who may figure in the unsolved murder of an aspiring leading man.
Author Janet Dawson says, In a way, I grew up at the movies. My mothers family owned movie theaters from the 1920s till the 1970s. My mother met my father during World War II while selling tickets at the family's picture show. Dawson spent time as a child helping her aunt sell popcorn and watching her uncle lift huge film reels onto the projectors, to spin out dreams on the silver screen. Dawson is also intrigued by unsolved Hollywood mysteries, and decided to write one of her own, incorporating information from her family background and her collectors habit.