On the Bookshelf

Interesting Reading for Lucyfans

Hispanics in Hollywood: A Celebration of 100 Years in Film and Television. By Luis Reyes and Peter Rubie; Lone Eagle Publishing Co. ($21.95/trade paperback)

Desi Arnaz fans and students of Hollywood history will be interested in this newly-revised encyclopedia of Latino talent in the movie capital the past 100 years. Consider the first paragraph of Luis Reyes' introduction:

"I grew up on New York City's Upper West Side in the late 1950s and early 1960s and the first Hispanic presence on television that I remember vividly is Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy. He looked, spoke and acted -- especially when he got angry and spoke Spanish -- just like my Dad. Their home life resembled mine, for they lived in a tenement apartment in New York and struggled every day to make ends meet. And though Lucy was nothing like my Latin mother, she had that universal comic humanity in her characterization to which we could all relate."

How could one not like a book that starts like that!

Originally released six years ago, "Hispanics in Hollywood" has been updated, with at least 100 new names added -- including such contemporary stars as Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and Freddie Prinze Jr. The authors have also updated the biographies of such established stars as Antonio Banderas and Andy Garcia.

"Hispanics in Hollywood" underscores the fact that Latinos have always had a strong presence in Hollywood -- both in front of and in back of the cameras. (Desi, of course, experienced great success as both a performer and a producer-director.) "Latinos have always been prevalent in the story of Hollywood," says Reyes.

He should know. Reyes has been collecting artifacts of Hollywood Latino history his entire life. Over the years he has amassed more than 10,000 movie stills, posters and movie cards of Latinos in countless Hollywood productions.

Not that all the films were Latin in nature. During the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood, Reyes states, "All ethnic groups felt a certain amount of discrimination. Everyone just wanted to fit into the mainstream culture." Many stars, such as Gilbert Roland and Rita Hayworth, became "crossover" performers, often appearing in roles that were in no way Hispanic.

Reyes rightly bemoans the fact that although pioneers like Desi Arnaz helped define the television industry, there are very few TV shows today that feature Latinos in key roles.

This encyclopedia is amply illustrated, and in addition to extensive performer biographies, includes descriptive listings of the various Hollywood movies, television series, and TV mini-series that have had Latino themes and/or casts.

You'll want this one for your reference shelfl!

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