exclusive Q&A with Frankie Darro's
biography author John Gloske
Recently we asked John Gloske, author of the new biography on Frankie Darro entitled Tough Kid: The Life and Films of Frankie Darro, if he would be willing to answer a few questions for us. John sent us the following answers to our inquiries, which gives us some interesting insight into the creation of this book!
The Frankie Darro Homepage:
When and how did your love for
classic movies first begin?
John Gloske: Very early on. When I was 11 or 12 I started watching the classic comedians such as Laurel and Hardy, W.C. Fields, The Marx Bros. Their films showed constantly on TV up in the San Francisco Bay Area. When I was older I would spend hours in revival theaters watching films of the Golden Age. It was a good era to be a film buff.
FDHP: Do you recall when you first took notice of Frankie Darro in particular?
JG: When I was in my early teens, a TV station in S.F. would broadcast a Bowery Boys double feature every Saturday morning. It was not enough just to watch the films, I had to know who was in the cast, who directed it and so forth. Even though Frankie only made four films with the Bowery Boys, he was very memorable in them. You can't help but notice Frankie, he was that good of an actor.
FDHP: Who were some of the other stars you collected on and / or were receptive to your visits with Steve to their homes (if any)?
JG: Steve and I visited a lot of actors, and with the exception of Raymond Massey, they were most pleasant. You must remember it was an entirely different era. I would always read up on anyone we were to visit so that I would not come off as ignorant to their work. That impressed them. They must have thought, "Here are two teen-age kids and they know something of my work!" Some of the people we visited were, Randolph Scott, James Stewart, Groucho Marx, directors Fritz Lang and Rouben Mamoulian. Mamoulian was particularly nice. I saw him at a tribute years later and wanted to thank him for his generosity, unfortunately I didn't have a chance. We also visited the Motion Picture Hospital in Calabasas where we met Larry Fine of the Three Stooges.
FDHP: Obviously you've been collecting on Frankie for some time. When did you first have the idea to write his biography? And what was your incentive to finally tackle the project?
JG: Frankie would give my address and phone number out to fans who would write him with questions. I have a letter from one such fan dated Dec. 1973. In the letter he writes how happy he was that I was writing a biography of Frankie. Unfortunately, it wasn't completed back then. It wasn't until I stumbled across your fine web site that I thought, "Hey, maybe it's time to finally write this thing."
FDHP: Was it difficult doing research on Frankie's life and career? What were your most valuable resources?
JG: The research was very difficult. The staff at the Academy Library and the USC Warner Archives were very helpful, as were the staff at UCLA Film Archives.
FDHP: Did you uncover any information during your research which really surprised or amazed you?
JG: The most surprising information was that Frankie's father, Frank Sr., most probably was not his real father. The one photo I have of Frank, Sr., no resemblance at all to Frankie. This information was provided by Diana Serra Cary, who was very helpful to me. She was also very encouraging, she's a wonderful person.
FDHP: You must still wonder what happened to that box of memorabilia Frankie offered you years ago. Any idea whatever happened to it?
JG: I know some showed up on eBay. I contacted the seller who said he was selling it for an estate and that the autographed photos were purchased from Frankie sometime in the 1970s. I don't know if this was before I met Frankie in June of 1972. The items that were left after Frankie died were probably tossed in the dumpster by Dorothy.
FDHP: What is your most prized Frankie Darro collectible?
JG: I have a three sheet poster to ANYTHING FOR A THRILL. It's mounted and framed on my living room wall, it's pretty cool. Next to it is a lobby card to WILD BOYS OF THE ROAD.
FDHP: What is the one thing that you would like people to know or recognize about Frankie Darro?
JG: That he was a really fine actor. I give out copies of WILD BOYS OF THE ROAD all the time. Just so people will see Frankie. Everyone seems to enjoy the film. Spread the word, it helps!
FDHP: What kind of reaction has the book received so far?
JG: Very positive, more positive that I had anticipated actually. I have received some very nice e-mail's. They make all the work I did on the book worthwhile.
FDHP: How do you plan to promote the book in the coming year?
JG: Starting in January I'll have ads in Classic Images and Films of the Golden Age. I was at a book signing in Chicago recently, and I should have another in Burbank in February.
FDHP: That would be the Hollywood Collectors and Celebrities Show which is held at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel on February 14th & 15th. Tell us more about your attempts to honor Frankie with a plaque at the American Cinematheque. And how can fans help with the effort?
JG: As I have mentioned I already have a plague for my late friend Steve Monzo. Frankie's will be next to Steve's. I have almost raised the entire sum already. I tell people I am trying to raise money for the plaque when I am selling the book, some have giving me extra cash just for the plaque. One women gave me $50.00 and she only wanted one book. I tried to give her two, but she wouldn't take it! I'll let you know when the plaque is up. The American Cinematheque is a wonderful organization.
FDHP: Do you have any plans for more Hollywood-related books? If so, which subjects would you like to cover?
JG: There is another book in the works, but I can't get into the specifics at this time.
FDHP: Any chance you may write a personal biography about your adventures visiting Hollywood with Steve Monzo?
JG: I've had a lot of people ask that. Steve was a real character. I didn't really want to get into his story in TOUGH KID. He really deserves his own biography. He was well know in San Francisco. You can see him in the film GODFATHER II. Check out the deleted scenes on the DVD. He's the parking lot attendant that catches Mariana Hill's shoe. Yeah, there will be more on Steve, the difficult part will be to convince people it was all true!
FDHP: What is the best way for fans to order your book?
JG: Order it from my office: John Gloske * 18159 1/2 Parthenia Street * Northridge, CA 91325 - $21.95 plus $3.95 postage. You can order up to three book with the same postage amount. It's also now available on Amazon.com. That's probably the easiest way to order it. Check out my web site for additional information on the book.