Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Googies: Coffeeshop to the Stars

Googies: Coffeeshop to the stars
By Steve Hayes
Vol One ISBN 1593933061
Vol Two ISBN 159393307X
BearManor Media

Have you ever heard of The Corner? No? What about Ah Fong’s or Black Watch? Still confused? Well what if I add in the names Schwab’s or Greenblatts? Ahh, now I’m making sense. We all know Schwab’s and Greenblatts were a big part of Marilyn (and Hollywood) history, and together with Ah Fong’s, Garden of Allah and Black Watch, they made up an area known as ‘The Corner’, where people came to see and be seen in the 1950s. But while Schwab’s might have been the most famous of these locations, there was another coffee shop on ‘The Corner’ which was not so well-known but just as popular with the up-and-coming stars of the day – and that was Googies.

Googies was designed by architect John Lautner in 1949, with the idea that by using lots of glass, it would give the illusion of eating outside. It worked and was immediately popular with the Schwab’s crowd and those who hung around ‘The Corner’.

Many stars and starlets walked through Googie’s front door over the years, including James Dean, Errol Flynn and of course, Marilyn Monroe. Another budding movie star was Steve Hayes, who not only hung round ‘The Corner’, but also ended up managing Googies himself.

Some fifty years later, Steve opens the doors of Googies once again, by writing the highly entertaining two-volume book, ‘Googies: Coffeeshop to the stars.’ In the book Steve tells his own story of trying to make it big in Hollywood, and spills the beans on some of the secrets, stories and scandals surrounding his friends and acquaintances from ‘The Corner’.

Of course Marilyn was one of the people he encountered during this time, and she features in several chapters. Steve talks about the time he gave her a lift home to North Palm Drive, along with several stories from her days at Schwab’s and Googies.

The book doesn’t just concentrate on the famous people who haunted ‘The Corner’; it is also an autobiography of Steve himself. Married and divorced on more than one occasion, the book takes the reader on a ride through Hollywood and it’s history, while all the time telling tales of Steve’s life and loves.

The book is illustrated with loads of black and white photographs of old Hollywood (including some fantastic ones of Googies and Schwab’s), and many actors and actresses too, including Marilyn.

In my opinion, this book is a very entertaining read and is great either to dip into, or read from cover-to-cover. I would recommend it to anyone interested in tales of old Hollywood. It really is a journey through the ups and downs of the Golden Age of Movies, and since most of the people and places mentioned in the book are long gone, it is the nearest we will get to hanging around ‘The Corner’ ourselves.

Both volumes of ‘Googies’ are available from BearManor Media or at

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