Friday, March 16, 2012

NEW BIKE BOOK: Must-Read for Classic Hollywood Fans

Love the classics? You need Hollywood Rides a Bike
With all the rain we're having in the Bay Area, I thought I'd tell you about a wonderful new book that's helping me ignore that fact that the riding's miserable right now.

Based on his acclaimed Rides a Bike website, Steven Rea's new coffee-table treasure Hollywood Rides a Bike, Cycling with the Stars is +/- 160 pages of gorgeous, mostly black-and-white photos of the greats of Tinseltown pedaling, beside or around often beautiful vintage bicycles, which were regularly used as free, quiet and fun transportation around the expansive and almost always sunny Paramount, Warner Bros., RKO and Columbia studios.

I can't put this book down, mesmerized by the sensational professionally produced glossies of 190 Hollywood legends on bikes as cool as they are, and in such fascinating settings and poses. Plus, every picture is captioned with film critic and bicycle lover Rea's insightful remarks and trivia (I had no idea that "platinum bombshell" Jean Harlow died at only 26 or that horror star Vincent Price could ride a highwheeler - and no-handed!). Many also include the actual studio notes provided with the photos when they were released to the press way back when.

There's a tanned James Stewart taking a break during the filming of Hitchcock's Rear Window, riding double on a Phillips 3-speed with Grace Kelly sitting sideways on the top tube. There's Lauren Bacall made up to the nines, reclining against a parked bicycle and enjoying a cup of coffee. The studio notes (from January, 1945) read, "She's dynamic, is easily the most photogenic subject who has come to films in many a day. Lauren prefers slacks, sweaters and bicycles to dresses, silk stockings and open cars. She likes to be free and unencumbered, she says." And there on page 60 is a teenage Elizabeth Taylor riding along a sidewalk, as Rea writes, "her whole extraordinary career and all those marriages and tabloid headlines ahead of her."

Hollywood Rides a Bike is a celebration of classic Hollywood and bicycles and one of the most unique and satisfying books to come along in a while. If you like movies as much as I do, you'll love it.


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