Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends" - short promo video

I was delighted to see this Hollywood quality 
video promoting my book, Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends... I think you’ll enjoy it... and hope you’ll have a chance to read my book... available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and many other venues, as noted on the project news page
 of my website, .

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Oasis in Chicagoland

The author signing copies of Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends
at Barnes & Noble State Street (Near North Side)

Just finished a whirlwind trip to Chicago for my Oasis book tour and it was a big success -- including a terrific interview on "The Morning Answer," 560 AM, Salem News Network, hosted by Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson, on Thursday, May 21, 7:19-27 AM (CT). (For more information on OASIS and the book tour, see my website,, project news page.)

My book is being carried at Barnes & Nobles in Chicagoland, including DePaul Center, State Street (Near North Side), where I signed copies, Lincoln Park, Evanston, and Skokie, both Old Orchard and Village Crossing, among others.  It's also being carried at Pauline Books & Media, 172 North Michigan Avenue, where I signed copies, as well, including two personalized for buyers while I was there; and St. Peter in the Loop Book Store.

Below are some photos from my trip:

Pauline Books & Media, 172 North Michigan referred to as
"the Oasis of the Loop" by Relevant Radio. Signed copies there, 
two of which were personalized for buyers. See below for generic signed copy.

Oasis being displayed at St. Peter in the Loop Bookstore. Below, last two photos show
St. Anthony of Padua and Our Lady of Guadalupe images in St. Peter in the Loop Church.
Barnes & Noble DePaul Center #1
Barnes & Noble DePaul Center #2
Barnes & Noble DePaul Center #3
Barnes & Noble State Street (Near North Side) and below, en route along "the Magnificent Mile," 
standing in front of the famous Chicago Water Tower

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Latest Washington, DC Stop on "Oasis" Book Tour

Today, Wednesday, May 13, I spoke at a private gathering of influential conservatives in Washington, DC.  Oasis flyer was posted on accompanying screens as I spoke. No photos, recordings or videos were allowed, as the meeting is OTR.  Below photo of me was taken shortly after I spoke by a kindly employee in the building around the corner from site of meeting, where I parked. Also, see below for the text of my remarks, as well as notes on my off the cuff remarks at the end. [For more information on the book and book tour, see my website.]

Thank you, ___ (moderator).

My name is Mary Claire Kendall. I’m the author of Oasis:Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends, recently published by Franciscan Media.

It’s ironic. The last time I came here, we were working to sideline Hillarycare. Now, umpteen years later, we’re working to sideline Hillary.  But, more importantly we’re working to nominate the next Reagan. Because, for all his flaws, one thing Barack Obama has done marvelously well, is teed up, Jimmy Carter-like, a president of similarly historic proportions.

But, today I’m here to talk briefly about Hollywood, home of American cinema, and the stars we’ve all grown to love and admire.

Stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age, whom some of you may not be so familiar with. BUT YOU SHOULD. 

Because, in fact, they were some of Reagan’s best friends, and they helped tell stories of American greatness and straightforwardness that are important to absorb.

For instance, Gary Cooper, who coincidentally died 54 years ago today, and about whom I write among my “all-star twelve,” famously starred in Sergeant York (1941), High Noon (1952), Pride of theYankees (1941), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), and on and on. If you haven’t seen these films, do! [Then, I asked how many knew Coop and about 2/3 of the hands shot up.]

My book, with a foreward by Mother Dolores Hart, whom you may have seen on The O’Reilly Factor earlier this year, looks at these stars through the lens of their humanity, telling the story of their lives, the very beats and arc of which show how they were transformed by faith.  In so doing, I am attempting to transform your understanding of these legends, helping you to see them in a whole new light.  As my friend Harry Flynn, who was publicist to many stars, including Bob Hope, said, Oasis shows the soul behind the billboard.

But, first, let’s step back and look at Hollywood through the political lens you are accustomed to.

Hollywood, of course, used to be a denizen of conservative Republicans. It still is, to a certain degree—stars like Kelsey Grammer, and many more, still proud Republications. Though, as we all know, it is not considered quite as fashionable to be a Republican in Hollywood these days as it once was. (Though fashion, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.)

But, when Hollywood was just making its mark on the American psyche, it was very fashionable, indeed, to be a Republican. Most of those who built Hollywood belonged to the Grand Old Party. People like Mary Pickford, Louis B. Mayer, Cecil B. DeMille, John Ford, Cooper, John Wayne, Bob Hope, and of course, Ronald Reagan, to name just a few—many of whom I write about in “Oasis.”

Most of the stars I write about experienced some kind of crisis that brought them face to face with their human weakness and their need for God.

It’s just that simple. 

In depicting this phenomena, I write the life stories of these stars, because you can’t begin to understand someone unless you know where they came from, what they achieved and how, what their weaknesses and strengths were—and how far they fell, or merely drifted—to understand how incredible their journey and discovery of God was.

My book includes Alfred Hitchcock, Cooper, Bob Hope, Mary Astor, John Wayne, Ann Sothern, Jane Wyman, Susan Hayward, Lana Turner, Betty Hutton, Ann Miller and Patricia Neal.

It was a privilege to write about these stars, entering into their lives, gaining an appreciation for how much they endured in their climb to the top. Because, believe me, nothing was handed to them on a silver platter. Then came the celebrity and fame. And, what that does to a soul! And, the predictable problems. They were, after all, mere mortals, the Hollywood publicity machine notwithstanding. That machine, in fact, often ginned up as much publicity as problems.

But, then, in the amazing way that God brings good out of evil, these problems, in fact, were what led them to God.  

[Then, I added some off the cuff comments, noting that while Hollywood viewed Washington as “Hollywood for Ugly People” and Washington, especially conservatives, view Hollywood as the source of many national ills, the truth is the art of communication, which Ronald Reagan knew so well, was something he largely learned in Hollywood. It’s important to study this artto get your message out.  Then, I noted, while this book does not cover any policy issues—the point of these meetings being to advance a conservative policy agenda—it does highlight the importance of God and, given the tough times we’re going through—and the gridlock in Washington—if we hope to achieve anything of value to the nation, we certainly need the help of God.]

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Oasis in Woodland & Hollywood Hills & Beyond

The West Coast kickoff of Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends was a whirlwind. From my base in the Hollywood Hills, the trip lasted from Tuesday, April 28 to Tuesday, May 5, and included many opportunities to meet key players to lay the groundwork for publicizing the book. 

One of the touchstones was a marvelous book signing, which St. Mel Parish hosted for me on Wednesday, April 29 at 7 PM. This well-attended event in Woodland Hills, California, 20 miles northwest of Hollywood, included the grandson of Spencer Tracy, Joe Tracy, and Fr. Padraic Loftus, Pastor Emeritus at St. Mel. Fr. Loftus baptized Ann Miller in the waning moments of her life, the story of which is included in the respective Oasis chapter. Interestingly, the Motion Picture Home, where Mary Astor lived out her final years, is located in Woodland Hills.  

Here is the audio of the event including the introduction, my remarks and the Q&A. Afterwards I signed books, followed by a reception where we continued our lively conversation.   A lovely event!  

Pacific Design Center where
Rogers & Cowan is located
On Thursday, April 30, among other activities, I dropped by Rogers & Cowan on Melrose to take copies of my book to a couple of stars I had been in touch with c/o their publicists, one of whom praised a piece I wrote about his client a few years earlier. 
Hope Estate in Toluca Lake

On Friday, May 1, I brainstormed with a PR genius whose focus is Hollywood.  What valuable lessons she imparted! That morning I attended mass at St. Charles Borromeo, where Dolores and Bob Hope worshipped, just down the street from their former home in Toluca Lake. Afterwards, I left a signed copy of my book for some folks who played a special role in its realization.  

On Saturday, May 2, I attended a private luncheon for Roger Michael Cardinal Mahoney and Archbishop Emeritus at Blessed Sacrament Church on Sunset Boulevard, on whose door Mary Astor knocked at a pivotal moment in her life, about which I write in Oasis
Author in front of John Barrymore's home
around the corner from Moorcrest

Entrance to Moorcrest

On Monday, May 4, I toured the neighborhood where John Barrymore and Mary Astor lived. Mary’s home, known as Moorcrest, was nestled in an enclave within the Hollywood Hills intended for members of the Theosophical Society. Moorcrest as once home to Charlie Chaplin.  My tour guide for this part of the Hollywood Hills was the very accomplished Lisa Mitchell, a fountain of knowledge about classic old Hollywood. She is the author of The Hollywood Canteen, among other literary achievements. 

This overview provides but a flavor of this memorable trip in the stomping ground of the stars I write about in Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends.

Porch of author's residence in the Hollywood Hills during her stay,  not far from Moorcrest, and just below the Hollywood sign, where she could occasionally hear the whirring of helicopters 
coming to photograph the iconic landmark