God, Moses and Kenny Turan

(Left to right) John Prough, former owner of another bookstore in the Palisades, author/playwright Josh Greenfeld, Kenny Turan, and Bob Vickrey at a booking signing at Village Books.
Photo: Patricia Williams


After reading CTN’s story of Kenny Turan’s retirement from his post as senior film critic at the LA Times, I was reminded of a couple of spontaneous meetings at Dutton’s Brentwood Books on San Vicente Boulevard.

As a publisher’s rep for Houghton Mifflin, I was often at the bookstore to meet with owner Doug Dutton. But one particular day, I had a memorable encounter there before we settled down to business.

About twenty years ago, I walked across the Dutton’s patio and spotted four familiar faces who were chatting near the front door of the store. Owner Dutton waved me over to say hello to local authors Jack Miles, Jonathan Kirsch and Kenny (whom I had known for many years as a friend and neighbor.)

All had written notable biographies in recent years, ranging from Miles’ book entitled: “God: A Biography,” Kirsch’s “Moses: A Life,” to Turan’s collaboration with actress Patty Duke, “Call Me Anna.”

When Doug and I retreated to his office for our scheduled meeting, he said “Rarely do you see the biographers of God, Moses, and Patty Duke assembled in one place.”

From a nearby desk, a staff member suddenly yelled out, “Kenny knows Patty Duke?”

Moses didn’t take that one lying down. Less than a year later, I once again walked across the patio and noticed Doug engaged in conversation with a tall, distinguished-looking gentleman. Doug looked my way and asked me to join them.

He proceeded to introduce me to Charlton Heston. (Had I just entered the Twilight Zone?) He turned to the iconic actor and said, “Mr. Heston, you’ve met Bob Vickrey, right?”

In his best Moses-esque Hollywood reenactment, he took my hand (overhand, no less!) and said in that famous resonant voice, “Of course, Bob! My goodness, how have you been?”

 Possibly just random encounters on a bookstore patio? Maybe just odd coincidences? Perhaps. But always keep in mind that we live in a place called Hollywoodland. Do we not?

A footnote about Kenny Turan: He wrote his first book for Houghton Mifflin shortly after I joined the company in the early 1970s, and later published a half-dozen more titles with other houses. So it was no surprise that bookstores were our normal meeting place. First it was Dutton’s in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and then it became Village Books on Swarthmore Avenue.

Adjoining the text is one of my favorite pictures with some old friends at his speaking engagement at Village Books in 2001 for his latest book “Not Coming to a Neighborhood Theater Near You.”



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3 Responses to God, Moses and Kenny Turan

  1. sally iorillo says:

    Again a wonderful piece by Bob Vickrey !

  2. howard yonet says:

    if you like history ( local or otherwise) you’ll love this article.

  3. M says:

    Bob, I love your articles…..what an interesting career you have had. So many talented writers you have had the good fortune of coming in contact with, and because of that career we are given the opportunity to see the “inside” through your words………thank you.

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