Culturephile: Mapping Hollywood

Suzanne Redfearn and Diane Haeger dive into the white-hot center of show business in their new novels. Laguna Beach’s Redfearn, left, tracks the instant fame of a child actress in “No Ordinary Life,” and Haegar, who lives in Newport Beach and uses the pen name Anne Girard, fictionalizes the tumultuous, short life of ’30s sex symbol Jean Harlow in “Platinum Doll.”

NOVEL INSPIRATION
Redfearn I came up with a title when I saw Zac Efron on the cover of a magazine. I knew that we’d seen him growing up and now he was in trouble and in rehab… that was the start.
Haeger I liked the idea that a lot of younger people really aren’t familiar with Harlow. It’s nice (as a novelist) to have someone who started the whole blonde bombshell thing and people don’t know anything about her.

HOLLYWOOD CONNECTION
Redfearn My kids went to school with child actors. I have a friend whose son was a Disney actor. You’re touched by it just living in Laguna. … My uncle was a soap opera actor for years on “Days of Our Lives.” His son was the star on a pilot when he was about 12.
Haeger When I first graduated from college, I worked in Hollywood for a bit and I was around actors and producers, and I was able to call on that.

IMG_7064STAR POWER
Redfearn I purposely chose a character that had “It.” I wanted her to be Shirley Temple, Michael Jackson, Jodie Foster—a precocious child … so that it was undeniable that she deserved her stardom and that she would be catapulted into superstardom.
Haeger I think that Harlean (Harlow’s given name) had that luminous quality that everybody was attracted to. It wasn’t a manufactured thing.

STAGE MOTHERS
Redfearn When you become a superstar, you become an entity. What’s amazing is how little power the parents actually have. Definitely the entourage takes over, and they (parents) will be taken out of the picture.IMG_7076
Haeger That’s completely different with Harlow. I don’t know if that’s because it was the ’30s, but (her mother) Jean Bello had ultimate control over her, no matter how famous she got. Her mother had psychological control.

HIGHLIGHTS REEL
Redfearn Writing this book was joyous. As corruptive as that fame was and the horrible things that go on that propel the book forward, it’s a fun thing to write about.
Haeger Out of all the books I’ve written, this is the one where I’ve felt like I’ve written some fun scenes. There’s the funny scene with the undergarments. … It was fun to get to do something with a little bit of humor. I’ve never had the opportunity.

See Them! Meet Suzanne Redfearn and Diane Haeger at 1 p.m. Feb. 27 at Seaside Gallery and Goods in Newport Beach. 949-290-7249

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