by Julie, summering in Somerville
I am delighted to welcome Zac Bissonnette to the blog today! Zac’s debut mystery, A Killing in Costumes, was released on Tuesday, and we’re thrilled to help him celebrate!
My Little Perry Como Memorabilia Collection
As part of the research for my debut mystery novel, A Killing in Costumes, set in the world of Hollywood memorabilia dealers, I interviewed Joseph Maddalena, who runs the Hollywood memorabilia department at Heritage Auctions. He’s been in the industry for thirty-five years, and has sold millions and millions of dollars of Hollywood props and costumes.
I asked him what he thought of my book’s plot.
“It’s totally plausible,” he said. “These people are crazy. You have some old lady with a collection no one’s seen in Palm Springs, and get a couple dealers competing for it? Someone could hypothetically end up dead, absolutely. This memorabilia is an obsession. People covet it. It’s not like any other collectibles category. There’s a passion, an intensity that’s different.”
“Why?” I asked him.
“These objects give people a connection with these people. It’s what movies do: They transport you somewhere and then having the objects takes that to another level. If you hadDorothy’s ruby slippers [Which Maddalena once sold for more than two million dollars], what else do you need? It’s the ultimate symbol of hope. That’s the thing, to be able to have that moment. It’s magic.”
I don’t own Dorothy’s slippers, nor do I have a large or varied memorabilia collection.
Instead, since I was twelve years old and decided I loved Perry Como after I heard my grandparents playing him, I’ve been assembling what is, I have to assume, the largest collection of Perry Como ephemera in the world. None of this stuff is terribly valuable, but it’s given me great joy—and browsing eBay and emailing with dealers about hot finds has been a weird constant in my life for twenty years. Over the years, my collecting has brought me into contact with people who knew him—TV producers, relatives, and, most recently, a singer who was a member of the cast of his TV show in the early 1960s. The warm and wonderful reminisces they share of the barber from Pennsylvania who became, according to a LIFE Magazine poll, the man women most wanted to marry, enhance the joy my collection brings me. Perry Como was, unlike the other famous Italian-American singer of his era, a wonderful person, as kind and carefree, as his mister-nice-guy persona would have you believe.
So, there you have it: A few favorite pieces from my personal Perry Como collection. I probably wouldn’t kill anyone over any of this stuff—though maybe there’s some piece that’s eluded me that would meet that hurdle!
Wickeds Readers and Writers: Do you collect anything, or even just have one piece that has special meaning to you? Would you go to extreme lengths to get something?
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment and we’ll pick someone and send them a little piece of Hollywood memorabilia: a Murder, She Wrote script signed by Tom Sawyer, a writer for the show and longtime producer.
About A Killing In Costumes:
Stardom fades fast when you’re on the line for murder, in this debut cozy mystery perfect for fans of Richard Osman and Jenn McKinlay.
Jay Allan and Cindy Cooper were soap opera stars in the late ’90s, a wholesome young husband-and-wife duo who combined musical talent with humor and charisma. When the truth about their sexual orientations came to light, their marriage and TV careers ended, but decades later they have remained friends. Together, they open Palm Springs’ chicest movie memorabilia store, Hooray for Hollywood–but no customers and dwindling finances spell trouble.
A Hail Mary arrives in the form of Yana Tosh, a ninety-year-old diva of the silver screen who has amassed a valuable collection of costumes and props and is looking to sell. But first, Jay and Cindy have to beat their competition, a vice president from a mega-auction house with ten times their resources. And when he winds up dead, they become prime suspects in the murder.
With their freedom and livelihoods on the line, Jay and Cindy desperately need to clear their names. There are plenty of other potential suspects, but they’ll have to solve it soon before they’re forced to trade in their vintage costume collection for two orange jumpsuits.
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Zac Bissonnette‘s most recent book is 2015’s The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute. He is an equity analyst at a hedge fund, and lives in New York City with his partner and a tuxedo cat named Perry Como. A Killing in Costumes is his first novel.