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Between World War II and the 60s, before bodyguards and gossip sites, Hollywood kids could grow up in a golden normalcy, combining the perks of movie royalty with small-town protections.

From those who lived it, the author recaptures a world where Daddy’s Oscar mattered, but not as much as being cool in school.

And there have been bystander Hollywood childhoods, of people who didn’t grow up in famous families but became famous themselves (Robert Wagner, Robert Redford).

But, for roughly 25 years, between the premieres of Hollywood childhood, especially if the definition of “normal” could be stretched just a bit to include riding the small-gauge railroad in Walt Disney’s backyard, taking swimming lessons from Esther Williams, booing out loud at the Academy Awards ceremony when your father lost an Oscar (or bragging at school when he won one), and having Milton Berle do card tricks for your birthday or Sammy Davis Jr. The Village“Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered”—the prologue of holds a mirror up to Hollywood itself.

Fifteen years ago, that was a question that had zero cultural significance.

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