Mark Bailey’s Hollywood Heydeys

Step into “Of All the Gin Joints,” a world where Dennis Hopper drunkenly shoots a gun into the air and throws a flaming mattress out of a hotel window; where John Wayne and Nikita Kruschev down shot after shot of tequila and vodka in a private bar; where a lush Humphrey Bogart gets into a scuffle over a stuffed panda bear; where Jean Harlow helps an L.A. brewery rake in $250,000 the night prohibition was repealed.

Yes, this is Hollywood. At least, it used to be. 

“It’s the drunk side of things,” said author and Malibu local Mark Bailey. 

Those tales and dozens of others have the makings of great Hollywood films, but none of them are fiction. 

In “Of All the Gin Joints,” Bailey and illustrator Edward Hemingway document the seemingly mythical and alcoholic side of the film industry, breaking the book up into easily digestible eras and biographies that span from “The Silent Era, 1895-1929,” “The Studio Era, 1930-1945,” “Postwar Era, 1946-1959,” and “1960’s & New Hollywood, 1960-1979.” 

Bailey and a team of researchers spent several years culling biographies, memoirs, newspaper clippings and everything in between to help compile the best boozy anecdotes and “bite-size biographies” on stars like Rock Hudson, Bing Crosby, Rita Hayworth and Mary Pickford. Through each entry, a murky, unbelievable Hollywood scene emerges, where stars drank on- and off-set, threw raging overnight parties and hardly questioned the idea of getting behind the wheel while inebriated. 


Hemingway, illustrator and longtime creative partner of Bailey’s, helps enhance each entry with caricatures and other drawings of each subject. 

“Ed intentionally drew the portraits a bit wonky — as the stars might look if you were drunk. He wanted to create the feeling that you were gazing at them through the bottom of a whiskey glass,” Bailey said. 

“Of All the Gin Joints” is a followup to the duo’s 2006 book, “Hemingway & Bailey’s Bartending Guide to Great American Writers.” The 2006 edition served up anecdotes of famed American writers and their favorite drink recipes. 

A crucial aspect of their research for this latest installment was testing favored drink recipes of the stars. Taste tests took place at the Sunset Restaurant. 

“I felt it was my duty,” Bailey jokingly said in discussing the taste test process. 

“We have cocktails that were special drinks for special stars. We have a bourbon milk punch for Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall,” he added. “[William] Faulkner would drink mint juleps.” 

Favorite hangouts of the stars are written about, too, including the Garden of Allah Hotel in Hollywood, where Tallulah Bankhead was carried naked out of the pool — clad only in diamonds — by Olympian and “Tarzan” lead Johnny Weissmuller. Bankhead had supposedly been trying to get Weissmuller’s attention all night. 

Though it’s difficult to choose from dozens, Bailey did mention a few who stand out in their drinking escapades. 

“I would say [Richard] Burton and [Elizabeth] Taylor — the level of drinking, their capacity for alcohol. How much Burton could drink, and sort of that combination of huge personalities, and enormous drinking in the glare of the paparazzi that surrounded them was sort of astounding,” Bailey said. 

Aside from penning books, Bailey’s main gig is as a successful screenwriter. His latest documentary collaboration with wife and director Rory Kennedy, “Last Days in Vietnam,” has been shortlisted for the 2015 Academy Awards. He and his wife also made the 2012 HBO documentary “Ethel,” about Kennedy’s mother and Bobby Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy. 

“I write, she directs,” Bailey said of his collaboration with his wife. 

Bailey also just finished writing the screenplay for a film adaptation of Marvel’s “The Black Panther.” 

Bailey and his wife have been married for 15 years and live in the Point Dume neighborhood with their three children. 

Hemingway lives in Brooklyn and is mainly a children’s book author/illustrator. The two collaborated on the children’s book “Tiny Pie” in 2013. 

Bailey isn’t sure if they’ll be writing another booze-infused book anytime soon, as their livers may need a rest. 

“Of All the Gin Joints” is available for purchase at Bank of Books and at 

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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