What do the blueberry girl from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the author of an encyclopedia about Lucille Ball, and a witty critic who recaps The Bold & The Beautiful every day have in common? They're all friends of mine who have great Web sites. Check them out:

Open your home to a furry friend
Very few things in life have given me as much happiness as providing a safe, warm, treat-filled home to two little "street urchins" from Brooklyn.

My partner-in-pet-parenting, Joe, who had never had a pet before, once said, "It's like living with cartoon characters!" He's right: Dusty and Buster certainly keep things interesting. If you have room in your heart and your home, visit PetFinder for a list of needy animals in your area.

Click here to see more photos of our little guys.


My boyfriend, Joe Salvatore, is a director and NYU professor. We met in 2001 while he was writing mindlynes, a play about groundbreaking gay photographer George Platt-Lynes. Joe found my website and emailed to ask if he could interview me, to help him understand the photo shoot process. The rest is history. :-)

Find out more about him and his work at his site, www.joesalvatore.com. 

David Martin grew up in the midwest, just like me, but we didn't meet until we'd both migrated to New York City. We instantly bonded over our love of pop culture (especially soap operas).

Several years ago I urged him to share his sense of humor with the world, and the result was his website Mr Smarty Pants, where David does a hilarious daily update of the TV classic The Bold and the Beautiful.

In 2003, David moved to Santa Fe, but thanks to his site, I can still get a daily dose of his wit--and so can you. Check it out: www.mrsmartypants.org.

Michael Karol
is a great friend and an excellent writer. We met in the mid-1990s while we were working at Computer Shopper magazine, and one day we realized that we both had fond childhood memories of Lois Lane comic books drawn by artist Kurt Schaffenberger.

Before long, we were checking out eBay (www.ebay.com) and collecting original comic art. Now it's become a race to see who can bid first when a Schaffenberger page shows up there. Before Kurt's death, we were also lucky enough to meet the artist and buy some pages directly from him, at a comic convention in New Jersey a few years ago. Michael's done a nice web tribute to Kurt: I Love Lois (Lane).

We're collaborating on a fun new series of books called TV Tidbits, and I've edited his three Lucille Ball books, Lucy A to Z, Lucy in Print, and the Lucille Ball Trivia Quiz. For more information about the books, visit Michael's Lucy Tribute site, where he keeps a flame burning for the Queen of Comedy.


TV Tidbits .com

I'm currently developing and expanding the TVTidbits.com, the companion site to the series of books that Michael and I are writing. It already includes fun facts (trivia tidbits) about such favorites as The Brady Bunch, The Bionic Woman, The Munsters and Dark Shadows -- and I'll be adding more over the next few months, so if you're a TV fan, take a look and keep checking back.


The Ladies of Dark Shadows

Since the early 1990s, I've been writing books about the TV classic Dark Shadows and working on related websites. (Click here to read my essay about why DS has special meaning to me.) My work on these projects has enriched my life and career in countless ways. And the thing that has impacted me the most is the fact that I've gotten a chance to get to know many of the cast members.

When I first moved to New York, my mom was still in Kansas (she's since moved back to her home state of West Virginia), so Diana Millay appointed herself as my "New York Mother." Diana is an accomplished actress--a veteran of Broadway, classic TV shows like Father Knows Best and Perry Mason, and films including Tarzan and the Great River. We met because of her role as Laura Collins on the Dark Shadows.

My first meeting with Diana was to interview her for my book Big Lou. Later we worked together as I edited her first book, a cookbook titled I'd Rather Eat Than Act, and she also brought my words to life by recording a book-on-tape version of my DS novel, Frozen Summer, More recently, I edited her book, The Power of Halloween, which came out in September 2003.

Working on all these projects, Diana and I have become great friends, and she's always been there to provide advice and home-cooked meals, just like any good mom would. Her site is a great collection of kitchen tips, recipes, anecdotes, and photos from throughout her career. Take a look: www.dianamillay.com.

Marie Wallace is a dear friend who has been a great support during my ongoing battle with colon cancer. (Click here for info about that.) She's a very talented actress and photographer, and you can find out more about her work at her website, MarieWallace.com.

Fans who only know Marie from her work on Dark Shadows are going to be pleasantly surprised to learn about the rest of her impressive career when her new book comes out later this year. The Marie Wallace Scrapbook, which I'm helping her with, will include photos and information about her numerous stage appearances. She was part of the original casts of Broadway classics like Gypsy and Sweet Charity, and she played catty Crystal Allen in a star-studded production of The Women in the 1970s. Kim Hunter, Myrna Loy, and Jan Miner were among her costars in that revival. Marie has also worked with a vast array of well-known artists, including Bob Fosse, Gwen Verdon, Ethel Merman, Larry Hagman, and Robert Goulet. (She appeared with one of my all-time favorite TV stars, Belverlee McKinsey in a play called Mert and Phil. Click here to read an article about my love of Ms. McKinsey's work on the soap Texas.)


With her dry sense of humor and interesting perspective on life, Lara Parker is one of my very favorite people, not to mention one of my favorite actresses and writers. I first interviewed her in 1991, for a chapter in my first book, The Dark Shadows Collectors' Guide, and a few years later I got a chance to start getting to know her better as webmaster of her official site, LaraParker.com.Like Marie and Diana, she's been a great support during my health challenge, and I'm eternally grateful for that.

Sharing cocktails with DS star Denise Nickerson at Festivals over the years has been a special treat, because I remember her fondly as the human blueberry in one of my favorite movies, the children's classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory .Visit her official site here to see a recent picture of Denise all grown up, with her son, Josh, and to read about her career.

One of my favorite "New York experiences" has been listening to Natalie Douglas perform "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," for me several times over the years at Brandy's Piano Bar on the Upper East Side. Natalie presents cabaret shows at various venues throughout the city. Her second CD was just released in March 2005, and her first release, Not That Different, is still available. They're both amazing. You can hear samples from them, and order copies, at Natalie's official site, www.nataliedouglas.com. You can also read about her upcoming gigs -- and if you're in or near New York, I heartily recommend catching her show.

If you're a Bravo viewer, you probably remember PJ Mehaffey from his season on the reality series, The It Factor, about struggling actors in New York. We became friends when he was working on Joe's play mindlynes. See the photos I shot of him to promote that play by clicking here. And visit his official site to learn more.

As much as I love TV (and though I did watch PJ on The It Factor), I'm not a huge fan of reality programming -- with one exception. Joe and I spent a month in Ireland in the summer of '04 -- just long enough to get hooked on the British version of Big Brother. I think it's better than the U.S. version because it's on almost 24 hours a day, and there's something fascinating about that kind of constant observation. We found ourselves sitting there watching the housemates sleep, waiting for something to happen. And the show was so popular that it was front-page news on all the U.K. tabloids just about every day while we were there, feeding my addiction. :) It was sort of jarring to come back to the States and realize that nobody here had even heard of these people who had been dominating the newsstands in Ireland when we left. But I was about to get a fix on the show's official site, where you can read several updates a day, and if you're on a PC, you can even pay to get a 24-hour almost-live feed.

 Other Favorites
When I should be writing or editing photos, I'm easily distracted by the Web....
Here are a few more of my favorite sites:

Brett Somers.com
I'm a huge fan of the old game show Match Game, which is on the Game Show Network about a half a dozen times a day. And ever since I was a little kid, my favorite panelist has always been the acerbic Miss Brett Somers--so I was thrilled to find out she was making her cabaret debut in July 2003. I caught one of her shows at Danny's Skylight Room in Manhattan, and it was fantastic.

During the show, she mentioned Maybe Tuesday, the (very) short-lived Broadway play she was in with my friend Louis Edmonds back in the 1950s, and afterward I presented her with a copy of Big Lou, Louis' biography, which I wrote. It was a thrill finally meeting her, and I hope someday to get a chance to interview her about Louis and Maybe Tuesday. For more about her cabaret shows and her career in general, check out her official site.

The best place to find great collectibles -- my books and photos show up there occassionally.

An amazing depth of information about actors, movies, and TV shows. Since I've worked behind the scenes on a few independent films and TV series, I even have an IMDB page: to see it, click here.

Fan-produced pages about classic TV shows
(I've written a few pages).

The Purina Cat Chow Site offers great advice on caring for our little feline friends.

Promoting my books, I'm a "regular" guest at several nostalgia conventions, including The Big Apple Con in New York and the Dark Shadows Festivals in New York and L.A.

Above, I'm at the TV Tidbits table with Michael Karol at the April 2005 Big Apple Con. Also at our table throughout the weekend was Willy Wonka star, our pal Denise Nickerson.