By Diane Y. Welch
Is Hollywood the happiest place on Earth or the most miserable? This is the question that author and popular culture maven Susan Marg, a Del Mar resident, pondered as she pored over piles of glossy magazines and newspaper gossip columns searching for the best celebrity quotations that might answer her query.
The result is an informative and entertaining book that contains quotations — that both laud and deride Tinseltown — dished out by Hollywood stars, past and present.
Titled “Hollywood or Bust: Movie Stars Dish on Following their Dreams, Making it Big, and Surviving in Tinseltown” [Cowgirl Jane Press, April 2013], the 182-page volume is a fun pick-up-and-read-anytime book or a handy resource for anyone needing that perfect celebrity quotation, said Marg.
Organized in seven chapters, the collection reads like a story and comprises “over 500 quips, quotes, and off-the-cuff remarks” by actors, directors, writers and other show business folk, Marg said. “They talk about themselves, their lives, their fame, their careers, and each other!”
Chapter headings are movie titles. “The question of whether art imitates life or vice versa interests me,” said Marg. “Also I didn’t want to ignore movies altogether while I focused on what the celebrities were saying about their experience. I also have quotations at the beginning of each section that helps illustrate the focus on that section,” she explained.
Movie titles include “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” and “Anyway Which Way You Can.” The book’s title is a nod to a 1956 Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy, in which the goofy pair take a cross-country ride to Hollywood.
Star comments include the celebrated words of Ben Affleck, Jack Black, Woody Allen, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Lindsay Lohan, Clint Eastwood, Scarlet Johansson, and those of vintage icons such as Bing Crosby and Marlene Dietrich.
Marg said that she read a lot, especially biographies, while she was culling the book’s content. “At one time I had over 2,000 quotations, which I then sorted by theme and while it took a long time to gather the material the book came together easily and it was a lot of fun!”
Some of the themes of the book address stardom and how celebrities often rise from humble roots to lofty heights; technical acting skills; their looks; and the big payoff – the Oscars – and more. Directors talk about their perspective from the other side of the camera, and screenwriters vent how they are the “lowest of the low on the Tinseltown totem pole, except possibly for agents,” quipped Marg.
When asked if she had a favorite quotation, Marg was hard pressed to think of just one. “But I particularly enjoy the classics,” she said, such as Marilyn Monroe’s famous words “Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and 50 cents for your soul.”
Another of Marg’s favorites is Sandra Bullock’s comment on fame: “When your computer modem is broken, the repair guy comes out a little faster.” And Marlon Brando’s “The only reason I’m in Hollywood is that I don’t have the moral courage to refuse the money.”
Marg is also the author of “Las Vegas Weddings: A Brief History, Celebrity Gossip, Everything Elvis, and the Complete Chapel Guide” [Harper Collins]. Her interest in popular culture and the entertainment industry, and her writing skills, grew from her background in the world of advertising and marketing.
“You need to know who’s in, who’s out and what’s going on in the world of entertainment. I guess it’s in my blood,” said Marg.
Born and raised in Ohio, and after spending a 15-year career as an advertising manager for AT&T in New Jersey, Marg later relocated to Del Mar where she still lives with her husband, James C. Simmons, who is also an author and a historian.
On her blog, “The More Things Change...”, Marg reflects on history, her story, true stories and fiction. “I believe our stories make us who we are,” she said.
The book, which recently received an honorable mention for one of the Best Books of the Spring, at the San Francisco Book Festival, retails at $14.95 and may be purchased online at
- Log onto
to read Marg’s blog.