A former radio and TV broadcaster is opening a Hollywood time capsule of sorts and giving away the treasures inside.
Elliot Mintz did hundreds of celebrity interviews in the 1960s and '70s for his nationally syndicated shows. Stars such as Stevie Wonder, Groucho Marx, Donna Summer, John Coltrane, Jayne Mansfield and scores of other artists and entertainers spent hours talking to him on air.
Mintz got so close to some of the celebrities he interviewed that he eventually switched sides, as it were, and began working with stars to help shape their image in a world of ever-expanding media. In 1979, he became an independent publicist, representing scores of famous names, including Bob Dylan, Don Johnson, Paris Hilton and Diana Ross.
Determined to retire after five decades in Hollywood, the 69-year-old is releasing what he calls a "cyberography": A free website filled with more than 150 hours of his radio and TV interviews comprising hundreds of celebrities. There are even intimate discussions with Salvador Dali and Timothy Leary, as well as advice for Hollywood hopefuls from Mintz himself.
In the low, measured tone he cultivated decades ago to shed his native New York accent, Mintz says he's a better storyteller than writer. The website is both memoir and parting gift. ElliotMintz.com goes live Sunday.
"This is the most personal way I could think to reach people," he said in a recent interview at his home on fabled Mulholland Drive. "And it's free."
Nothing is for sale and there are no ads on the site, just hours and hours of interviews with entertainment legends frozen in time: Jack Nicholson discussing the challenge of his "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" role before he won the Oscar for it; Dylan reflecting on his own songwriting ("Nothing about me is exceptional"); John Wayne lamenting his popular cowboy image.
Longtime radio host Jim Ladd, currently on Sirius XM, assisted with the project by interviewing Mintz about his career.
"This guy was a mini '60 Minutes' in his own right," Ladd said of his friend and mentor. "He really knows how to do an interview and elicits information in ways you don't see done these days."
A sampling of what's inside this Hollywood time capsule:
— Stevie Wonder, on blindness: "My dreams are the same as my life. I mean, I don't see anything... Any kind of picture that I have in my mind of something is because I've been told basically what it is like or I've come to a preconception of maybe colors."
— Raquel Welch, on beauty: "In the very beginning I was pleased that I had physical attractiveness, because I had identified that with a ticket to a certain kind of life as a woman ... that to be an attractive girl meant that life was going to be a little bit better than if you were not attractive."
— Bob Dylan, on his music: "None of my songs are that good. It's the way they're performed. Hoagy Carmichael's songs are much better than mine. So are George Gershwin's. And Irving Berlin too. My songs are simple. They're simple to do. That doesn't mean they're any better than those."
— John Wayne, on his legacy: "I've done so many Westerns that I am best known for those portrayals... (People) forget that there were different characters, different reactions to life by a different type of person, and they only remember the cowboy."
— John Lennon, on what broke up the Beatles: "Because we all had basically had enough and nobody knew how to say it. We might not have even been aware that we'd had enough ourselves. That's why I say maybe we should have finished it a bit sooner."
With nervous anticipation about revealing much of his life's work online, Mintz says he's not so much proud as grateful.
"I was very gifted to have spent so many years with so many people that touched me and moved me in a special way," he says in the site's introduction. "And it's my wish to share some of these voices with you."