Who today could know anything about the Brown Derby restaurant and not immediately recall what generated its legendary fame? Was it the food? The service? The décor? The clientele? Of course it's a given that all these were truly exceptional, yet none adequately explains how any Tom, Dick, or Harry from Kalamazoo would be so well acquainted with the name of this particular restaurant. After all, they were not patrons. For us non-celebrities, the Brown Derby probably entered our world through the hilarious exploits of Lucille Ball in the television situation comedy "I Love Lucy" in which she starred along with husband Desi Arnaz. Who can forget Lucy's attempts to be "discovered" by a studio executive, or to get a closer look at William Holden, at the Brown Derby?
If you lived in greater Los Angeles at that time, you might have heard live KNX 1070 News Radio broadcasts at noon from the Brown Derby, and the question of the day would always be, "Tell us, George, who's at the Brown Derby today?" That was how Lucy knew which celebrities were at the Brown Derby. And, because Lucy knew, all of America knew: this Brown Derby restaurant was the stars' favorite gathering place.
So, what's the point of this review? Simply the sad fact that "George," the maître d', radio announcer, friend of Robert Cobb, and the central figure to all the famous patrons at the Brown Derby restaurant, is no where to be seen in any of the multitude of celebrity photographs in the book. It had to be the most deliberative, vexing, and laborious part of Mrs. Cobb's work in producing this incomplete book to find enough photographs that somehow did not show a trace of Mr. George Aguilera among the celebrity patrons. It was no oversight. Word is that following Mr. Cobb's death, major differences arose between the Head Waiter and Mrs. Cobb as to business practices, and that Mr. Aguilera took an uncompromising stand in favor of maintaining the renowned level of quality, rather than to expand the tourist element, and in so doing, risk losing the exceptional level of service of which he was justifiably proud to offer his friends. This book is testament to the bitter parting of ways that resulted. How ironic then, that Mr. Aguilera's face, commonly seen on Brown Derby advertising billboards that said, "Go see George...," appears nowhere in this book of photographs. Nor will you find any evidence that the man who announced to the world the presence of his famous dining guests, his friends, was ever there himself. I rate this book as missing at least one star.