Saturday, February 29, 2020

Literature Review: Claudia Jennings by Eric J. Karrel

Who is to blame for this tragedy? How you answer that question may be a mirror into who you are as a human being. An American tragedy played out, largely in the 1970s, and its status as an enigma today may be an indication of a society wrestling with its own identity. Claudia Jennings...Playmate of the Year for Hugh Hefner's Playboy, queen of the B movies, and human being. Yes she was a human being. She had a loving family and friends who continue to heap praise and thanks on her for her kindness and empathy. Only today do we have a comprehensive story that you can refer in order to understand the truth about Claudia. Today we look at Eric J. Karrel's biography of this enigma, Claudia Jennings.
You know the end of the story, a horrible car crash on a southern California road results in Claudia's death. It's too easy to fill in the details with stereotypical lore. Beautiful Midwestern gal goes to Hollywood and gets hung up on drugs, fame, and bad men. Now, Eric Karrel gives us the real story. Claudia was a tragic figure who to this day elates many of us B movie fans who enjoyed drive-in classics such as "'Gator Bait," and "The Great Texas Dynamite Chase." Unlike the irrelevant A-listers of today, the genuineness and love radiated by Ms. Jennings is captured so beautifully in this magnum opus work.
Karrel interviews dozens of Claudia's friends and acquaintances...and family members. Haters and detractors? There are few and tend to by of the tabloid nature looking for a story that just wasn't there. Claudia touched so many of the heavy hitters of the 1960s and 1970s movie, songwriting, and celebrity core of Hollywood.  Thanks to the author you will meet them and hear their actual recollections and testimonies of the ill-fated actress.  The accounts range from such heavyweights as Roger Corman to Maureen McCormick (Marsha on "The Brady Bunch"). Her lovers are also in here and if you are bent on believing this Playboy centerfold was a slut, gold-digger, and airhead...well, just read this book. Karrel's work doesn't serve to portray Claudia as Mother Teresa, but does present a comprehensive study of a human being who loved, made mistakes, was wronged, and lives on today because the magnificence of her talent and beauty.
Karrel received wonderful access from Claudia's family, a tribute to his sincerity and honesty which comes out in this book. For fans like me who still admire the beauty of the sultry actresses of the 1970s, it would be easy to write a book oozing with the boyhood crush we had on them. Karrel's work avoids this pitfall and presents all the information and testimony...good or bad. Claudia Jennings (or Mimi, as her family knew her as) has a new friend in eternity...someone who has finally told her story. Someday...way into the future, she may get the opportunity to thank Eric J. Karrel for being her voice. To read Karrel's Claudia Jennings: an Authorized Biography click on the below listed link.
Claudia Jennings on Amazon

1 comment:

  1. What a tribute to a wonderful woman, you could say same thing happened to Marlyn Munroe, too young and talented to die.