Mary Belton

Mary Belton has been writing for Boing Boing since 1993.

Starstruck – over a decade’s worth of celebrity snapshots by an obsessive fan

I don’t know what is more fascinating, the images or the accompanying anecdotes included in this collection of amateur snapshots taken from 1966-1980. Photographed with a paparazzi’s determination and a fan’s adoration, these portraits are intimate, touching, hilarious, and sometimes out of focus.

Gary Lee Boas’ obsession with celebrities, which began at age 15, led him to wait for hours in front of stage doors, hotels and nightclubs to capture everyone from actors to musicians to astronauts to politicians, including the famous, the future-famous, and the once-famous. The juxtaposition of the photographs (sometimes absurd) adds to the pleasure of leafing through this colorful book: Henry Kissinger coupled with Lee Majors, John Wayne with Billy Barty, Marilyn Chambers with Nelson Rockefeller. The frequent inclusion of non-celebrity onlookers in the pics (proto-photobombers?) adds to the fun – especially in the photograph of Miss Universe.

Starstruck: Photographs From a Fan, by Gary Lee Boas

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Gritty photos that reveal Hollywood’s seedy history

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Fans of photojournalist Weegee will love this gritty collection of photographs, which was culled from the archives of William Randolph Hearst’s infamous tabloid newspaper. Known for sensationalized reporting punctuated by attention-grabbing pictures, the Herald Express was founded in 1931 and remained on the stands for thirty years. Sidelining national and international events, the paper featured local stories of crime and scandal including drug busts, murder, freak accidents, and all manner of “depravity.”

The photographs included in Local News are divided into chapters bearing titles such as, “Murderers,” “Victims,” “Scene of the Crime,” “Hold-up Suspects,” and “Cross-Dressers.” Each image tells a true LA noir story and the brief captions included are often just as shocking and strange as the pictures they accompany: “Dragged into court, called insane,” “Big man plays bookie in tiny cubicle,” “Shoes, necklace found on dead body,” and “Girl is freed after explaining why she wore Marine uniform trousers after drinking party.” As a native of Los Angeles who is interested in its seedy history, true crime, and all that is weird, I wish I didn’t already own this book so I could run out and buy it today.

Local News: Tabloid Pictures from the Los Angeles Herald Express 1936-1961

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