We are thrilled that Bill Cassara is our Author of the Week this time, and we hope you enjoy his interview as much as we did.
BMM: What is your background and why did you decide to become a writer?
BC: I earned a degree in Criminology and had a 30 year career in law enforcement. During that time I was already writing professionally doing high stakes police investigations/reports as well as writing professional articles for various journals. I had fun writing when I was off duty and contributed film related articles for Classic Images and the Intra-Tent Journal.
BMM: What books have you written for BearManor, and what are they about?
BC: Edgar Kennedy-Master of the Slowburn- As a kid I used to watch
and Hardy and the
Our Gang/Little Rascals series on T.V. I
noticed they often had a neighborhood policeman by the name of “Kennedy the
Cop.” He was the uniformed officer that
had good intentions, but was always frustrated, sometimes to the point of
tears. Edgar Kennedy, had a robust
career from Chaplin to Doris Day and starred in his own comedy series for 17
years at RKO. The man appeared in over
500 films and was book worthy. Laurel
Vernon Dent-Stooge Heavy - Another character comedian that worked his way up from Sennett, supporting Harry Langdon (and others) and later came into prominence in the Columbia comedies. He was the most prominent comic heavy The Three Stooges ever faced. He appeared in over 400 movies, but no one had ever attempted to write specifically about him.
BMM: Why did you choose those particular subjects?
BC: I wanted to find out more about my subjects and it was clear if I didn’t investigate and write about them, no one else would. Edgar was born in Monterey Co. Calif. where I worked, but no- one knew anything about his childhood or where he was raised.
Vernon Dent was born in my hometown of
, Ca. I consider myself a historian
first and foremost; I discovered San Jose Vernon was the
grandchild of a very prominent citizen and that ’s dad was murdered in the same town. I
learned from an old newspaper that Vernon ’s
debut in show business was by accident.
He was an usher at a new theatre, and during a play, nine year old Vernon fell from the
balcony rail into the orchestra pit. The
many film buffs out there know his work, but not his early childhood and ascent
to show business success. He deserved a
BMM: How long did it take you to write them, and did you find it an easy task?
BC: Before anything, I give one solid year of watching films, research and obtaining data before I ever put pen to paper. That year’s time gives me an opportunity to thoroughly know my subject, and of course the investigation continues as I write.
The Edgar book took me longer because I had the advantage of going over Edgar’s daughter’s recollections. Trying to identify films with Edgar and
took a painstaking long time because
there is a lot of false information out there.
The fun I had crafting the words to coincide their personal and
professional lives, gives us a rare insight to their careers. Some reviewers claim they get a sense of the
real person. Vernon
BMM: What can we expect to find in your books?
BC: Before the books were published, my subjects hadn’t been given the recognition they deserve. Both Edgar and
apprenticeships and supported other comedians before they started getting prominent
comedy character roles. I approach my
subjects with a fair viewpoint, flaws and all.
Gone are the days when biographies were extensions of a press agent’s
attempt at putting their client in the best light. Readers want to know about the real person
and how their screen persona developed.
Of course a complete filmography and bibliography is essential. Vernon
BMM: What would you say is the most interesting thing about being a writer?
BC: In this society readers consider authors interesting people. For some reason, retired cops have a bit of a stigma. I like being “an author” better. To me, investigating and researching are parallels, so the same principles are involved. Now I can pick subjects to write about and champion their contributions to comedy. Being an author for Bearmanor Media, I share the common interests of other authors and we help and encourage each other. I enjoy being around other authors, it’s almost like a fraternity when we meet or correspond. We seek help confidentially amongst ourselves without fear of compromise.
BMM: Do you have a website, blog etc, where readers can find you?
BC: My email address is: email@example.com and I have a blog with five pages, photos and details dedicated to Edgar: www.edgarkennedy.org/ we are also in the process of putting a website together to include Vernon Dent.
I’ve been to several book singing venues and I’ll be returning to the Los Angeles Cinecon again this Labor Day weekend to serve as guest author. It’s a pleasure to sell my books, meet other fans and mingle with people in the business.
BMM: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
BC: I am writing another book for Bearmanor Media; Ted Healy-Nobody’s Stooge. This book feels more like the police investigations I used to do. Healy died mysteriously in 1937 and many rumors have ensued. Healy conquered Vaudeville, Broadway, movies and radio. Along the way he added to his extravaganza stage acts some knuckleheads who later became famous as The Three Stooges. There are many books about the Stooges but none about their mentor. This will be another biography where I trace Healy’s life and show business beginnings and reexamine his controversial death. As a retired Internal Affairs Sgt. I can identify what procedures were taken and clarify his cause of death.
We would like to thank Bill for taking part in our Author of the Week feature, and we are really excited to hear more about his new book!
If you would like to order Edgar Kennedy: Master of the Slow Burn, please click here:
And if you would like to order Vernon Dent, Stooge Heavy, please click here: