New Publication!
Hollywood in Monterey
Chronicles of a Cop
Henry Brandon
King of the Boogeymen
Ted Healy
Nobody's Stooge
Edgar Kennedy
Master of the Slow Burn
Vernon Dent
Stooge Heavy
About the Author

"Authors never die as long as their books are on the shelves"

- Bill Cassara

Bill Cassara graduated with an Administration of Justice degree from San Jose State University and spent thirty years with the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office. He worked in every capacity including public information officer. He served on many non-profit boards of directors including Crime Stoppers and the Monterey County Film Commission, once organizing a public fundraiser showing “Calamity Jane” with Doris Day and Clint Eastwood in attendance.

After winding up his career as a sergeant in the Internal Affairs Unit, he pursued a most unusual hobby: researching and writing biographies of forgotten movie comedians. Cassara has written professional articles for various journals including: National Sheriffs Magazine, Monterey County Historical Society, California Pioneers of Santa Clara County, and Classic Images. Bill has written five books, including: Edgar Kennedy-Master of the Slow Burn (2005), Vernon Dent-Stooge Heavy (2010), Ted Healy-Nobody’s Stooge (2014), Henry Brandon-King of the Boogeymen (2018, co-authored w/ Richard S. Greene), and Hollywood in Monterey (2020).

A passionate man of the arts that lives his research, Cassara started a "tent" for the Sons of the Desert, the international Laurel and Hardy association in 1984 (Midnight Patrol), which continues to this day in Niles, Ca. He also hosted the "Edgar Kennedy Celebration in Monterey" (1997).

Cassara’s books have garnered recognition from the San Francisco Chronicle and the Huffington Post as “Top Film Books of 2010 and 2014).” Bill now lives in Woodland, Ca. with his wife, Michelle. He has never forgotten the old film comedians who made him laugh.

Hollywood in Monterey - Chronicles of a CopBack to "Books"

It’s been said that cops have the best stories,

and Bill Cassara’s 30 years in the law enforcement profession unveils yarns gathered from the beginning of his career in 1978 through 2007. Along the way he has met and was befriended by Doris Day, Terry Melcher, Phyllis Coates, and got married at Joan Fontaine’s home.

Bill’s memoirs tell of his growing up in San Jose before she became known as “The Capital of Silicon Valley,” and traces his career steps that led him to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula of California to work for the Sheriff’s Office. Many interactions with Clint Eastwood and other characters that would rival John Steinbeck’s novels are included in this original work. He even played baseball with the legendary Willie Mays!

So fasten your seat belt for a ride-a-long with Sgt. Bill Cassara as he introduces us to his beat and life experiences.

See Bill addressing the public in this clip from 1988!

Henry Brandon - King of the BoogeymenBack to "Books"

Co-Authored with Richard S. Greene

You’ve seen him stand shoulder to shoulder with John Wayne as Indian Chief Scar in “The Searchers”, as the insidious Fu Manchu with world domination desires and as Barnaby, the wicked nemesis to Laurel & Hardy in “Babes In Toyland.” What you might not know is the versatile Henry Brandon essayed a variety of characters in film, television and a stage career that spanned 55 years amassing over 200 roles.

Authors Bill Cassara and Richard S. Greene team up to unveil Brandon’s career highlights as one of America’s most despicable villains and best character actors. As the vivid Hollywood story of this master craftsman unfolds, listen for Barnaby’s evil laughter echoing in the background.

"[Bill] has partnered with a fellow member of the Laurel and Hardy society Sons of the Desert to pay proper tribute to Henry Brandon, who menaced Laurel and Hardy in Babes in Toyland and Spanky, Alfalfa and Co. in Our Gang Follies of 1938 [...] The authors have left no stone unturned in chronicling Brandon’s career on stage, film and television in this loving tribute, which weighs in at 515 pages."

- Leonard Martin, Movie Crazy

Edgar Kennedy - Master of the Slow BurnBack to "Books"

Ned Comstock, the film archivist at the Doheny Library at the University of Southern California answered the phone. The call was yet another person who wanted to write a book on an old Hollywood movie star. “Who are you writing about?” Ned asked. Without any further introduction, I confidently spoke the name of Edgar Kennedy.

There was a pregnant pause of about three seconds. This was not the rounding up of the usual suspects of controversial celebrities: Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow, Fatty Arbuckle and their ilk. Ned curiously replied, “…Why Edgar Kennedy?”

Why Edgar Kennedy, indeed. Edgar died at the top of his game back in 1948, but since then, Hollywood has barely bothered reflecting on one of its film pioneers. Biographical information about his long and bumpy road to success has always been scarce and has been generally limited to his films.

Edgar Kennedy appeared in more than 400 films spanning four decades. He was one of the first to be honored (posthumously) with a star enshrining his name on the “Hollywood Walk of Fam.” Known as “The Master of the Slow Burn,” he had many other monikers over the years: “Mr. Average Man, “Kennedy the Cop,” “Uncle Edgar,” “One Punch Kennedy,” and even “The Human Donald Duck.”

An original Keystone Kop, Edgar predated the arrival of Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle in the Keystone Comedies for Mack Sennett. He played foil to Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Eddie Cantor and Harold Lloyd. Edgar also played memorable characters in prestigious Hollywood films, working with Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Jimmy Stewart, Claudette Colbert, Dick Powell and John Wayne. He saw the rise of Frank Capra, Jean Harlow, Betty Grable, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball and Doris Day.

Edgar starred in his own short comedy series for RKO, which spanned seventeen years. These “Average Man” short comedies established films’ first all-talking situation comedy series. They fathered a genre emulated by radio program “families” and later television sitcoms.

A screen clown for most of his career, with some notable exceptions, Edgar also directed many comedies himself. After years of anonymity, he finally hit pay dirt by developing a character that was much put upon by others. He would seemingly simmer in frustration over life’s annoyances, determined not to let it bother him. As the tension would mount, Edgar’s pent-up impatience often boiled over. Unable to hold it in, he might finally ignite in anger, resigning himself to fate by emphatically wiping his face with his left hand. His stock-in-trade grimace and “Slow-Burn” made him one of the movies’ most recognizable faces, until death claimed him at the peak of his career at age fifty-eight.

Now, more than half a century after Edgar Kennedy’s death, the embers of interest in his life have been rekindled. Rare family photographs and stories, provided by Edgar’s only daughter, have been shared with the author. Archival research has revealed never-known details about his childhood, professional boxing career and the evolution of his film legacy.

Edgar Livingston Kennedy never had the opportunity to tell his life memoirs, but with the cooperation of his family, combined with gumshoe efforts, the story can now be shared.

Vernon Dent - Stooge HeavyBack to "Books"

To the casual observer, Vernon Dent was “the guy in the suit,” the Stooges’ bellicose authority figure; he co-starred in more of their films (56) than any other supporting actor. Vernon was to the Stooges what James Finlayson was to Laurel & Hardy: a highly identifiable and confrontational comedy contrast. Standing five-foot-nine and weighing in at 250 pounds, Vernon fit the part of the comic “heavy”—and an angry one at that. You could be assured that the Stooges were “really going to get it” if his name was in the opening credits. When provoked, his disposition could go from genteel to all-out vengeance in three seconds flat. If Edgar Kennedy was “Master of the Slow Burn,” then Vernon Dent was “Master of the Short Fuse.” He’d just as soon clunk the Stooges’ heads together to show them he meant business. The resulting sound effects resonated like a lovely bunch of coconuts—hollow ones, of course.

Although Vernon was being seen daily on TV, nothing contemporary had been written about him. It wasn’t until 1970, when Kalton C. Lahue and Sam Gill wrote a groundbreaking book, Clown Princes and Court Jesters, that Vernon was first given a semblance of the recognition he deserved. Out of the 50 deserving subjects in the book, he was crowned “King of Character Comics.” More amazing to me was that this career profile was limited to the 1920s, long before he ever met Moe, Larry, and Curly.

It wasn’t until 1976 that I learned that this veteran comic had actually been born in San Jose. An article celebrating the man was published in Classic Film Collector (later known as Classic Images). The authors, Ted Okuda and Ed Watz, actually interviewed Vernon’s widow, Eunice, who identified his city of birth. This disclosure was of no small importance to me. Subsequent articles or short bios about Vernon Dent usually made mention of the fact that he was “born in San Jose and attended schools there and in Oakland,” but I wanted to know more. Where did he go to school, for instance? Who were his relatives? What were his show business roots? Just who is this guy anyway? Unfortunately, there were no family scrapbooks to pore over. My curiosity about the subject was placed on hold, indefinitely.

It wasn’t until after a 30-year career in law enforcement that I decided to reopen this “cold case.” Not too many people are still alive who could claim they followed Vernon Dent’s ascending film career. In fact, most people only recognize Vernon Dent because of his association with The Three Stooges. Even though I was delighted to identify him in other Columbia comedy shorts of the sound era, I too worked backwards in years, tracing the impact he made in his 400+ film appearances.

It is clear that behind the scenes, personal tragedy was a common theme in Vernon’s life. Achieving success in show business came slowly, but his optimistic approach helped him weather the lean times, and his endless curiosity about people allowed him to create many interesting characters. These skills held him in good stead in the motion picture industry for 35 years.

This tribute to Vernon Dent, Stooge Heavy, is overdue by more than half a century.

Ted Healy - Nobody's Stooge Back to "Books"

We'll leave the commentary about Ted Healy to his celebrity peers:

Morey Amsterdam
(Ted Healy) “gave me my first real break at comedy writing”
Milton Berle
“Ted Healy was one of my idols; his walk, talk, speed, flippancy were what I secretly patterned myself after.”
Joe Besser
“Ted had a quick wit and he knew how to keep audiences riveted to their seats with laughter.”
Mousie Garner
“Ted Healy was the emcee of the emcee’s."
Peter Lind Hayes
“Ted Healy was my idol; he was the most outrageously funny man I have ever known.”
Bob Hope
"Ted Healy? He was a bit psycho, but I enjoyed him."
Curly Howard
“He was alright that guy.” (1937)
Moe Howard
“I thought of Ted Healy as a brother.” (1937)
Shemp Howard
“Ted Healy is the funniest man in the world I know.” (1936)
Stan Laurel
(to Betty Healy), “If you wrote a book about Ted Healy, you wouldn’t have to peddle it, the name would sell itself.”
Joan H. Mauer (Moe’s daughter)
“Ted Healy was very generous to our family.”
Ken Murray
“Ted was my favorite comic.”
Louella Parsons
“The passing of lovable, impulsive Ted Healy came as a blow to those of us who enjoyed his friendship and his never-failing sense of humor.”
Billy Rose
“Ted Healy was a born funny man; he could get laughs just tying his tie.”
Jimmy Stewart
“Ted Healy was my mentor.”
Ed Sullivan
“Ted Healy was a performer’s performer.”
Henny Youngman
“Ted was a great comedian, I learned a lot from him. He helped a lot of young comedians; he doesn’t deserve to be forgotten."

See our photo collage of Ted Healy, set to music!

Critic Reviews
James L. Neibaur
Hollywood in Monterey
"Bill’s life and work is relatable to vintage film fans, especially once he starts rubbing elbows with the likes of Clint Eastwood, Doris Day, and baseball great Willie Mays [...] one soon finds that it is interesting, enlightening, and entertaining throughout."
R. Greene, Amazon
Hollywood in Monterey
"...ended up DEVOURING this charming, funny, smart and HUMAN saga of Cassara's long career in law enforcement and all the Hollywood intersections througout. This saga unfolds quickly with quite a warm and humorous eye for detail."
Cliff, In the Balcony
Hollywood in Monterey
"I just want you to know that this is my favorite of all your books. It is a real page-turner, and there's not a lot of autobiographies I can say that about. It is the Harpo Speaks! of police officer books, and I don't use that phrase lightly."
Niel Shaw, Amazon
Hollywood in Monterey
"You certainly don’t have to be a cop to enjoy this book! Bill offers a rare insight into the psyche of a regular guy; a beat cop. The stories are both eye-opening and hilarious."
Leonard Martin, Movie Crazy
Henry Brandon - King of the Boogeymen
"[Bill's] experience as a detective has come in handy, as tracking the details of these performers’ lives requires a bona fide sleuth."
Leonard Martin, Movie Crazy
Ted Healy - Nobody's Stooge
"Comedy buffs will welcome this thorough biography, filled with rare photos and newspaper clippings, along with a wonderful new drawing of Healy by Drew Friedman."
Anthony Balducci's Journal
Ted Healy - Nobody's Stooge
"This book deserves attention for offering a rediscovery of the forgotten Ted Healy. The author provides the straight and complete story of Healy, which makes this book worth reading."
Cliff Aliperti, Immortal Ephemera
Ted Healy - Nobody's Stooge
"My final word on Nobody’s Stooge by Bill Cassara: recommended. The content outweighs any other issues I may have had and the book succeeded in completely filling my knowledge gap about Healy’s early years, while enhancing my understanding of Healy’s death. That makes it a winner on two of the three points that made me request a copy in the first place."
Stephen L. Cox, Author
Ted Healy - Nobody's Stooge
"Finally, maybe this book will put to rest the ridiculous conspiracy theories regarding the mysterious death of Ted Healy. This book completes the task of a thorough and factual investigation into the death of Healy as well as a thoughtful look into the comedian's brief life. There are some interesting facts about the Stooges which had not been published---until now. It's a must for any hardcore Stooges fan."
In the Balcony .com
Edgar Kennedy - Master of the Slow Burn
"Thankfully, Sgt. Bill Cassara of the Monterey County Sheriffs Office (and founder of the local chapter of the Sons of the Desert, the Laurel & Hardy appreciation society) has ... a wonderful new book that fans of Kennedy will find hard to put down."
Edward Watz, Author
Edgar Kennedy - Master of the Slow Burn
"Mr. Cassara had access to the memories and collections of the Kennedy family, making this a definitive biography as well as a delightful examination at some of Edgar's most memorable film roles. The book is a labor of love that never loses its keen insight into the philosophy of a favorite comedian who also happened to be a very nice guy in private life."
Thomas Gladysz, examiner.com
Vernon Dent - Stooge Heavy
"Vernon Dent shines with new book"
J. Shawn Sullivan, Amazon
Vernon Dent - Stooge Heavy
"This book, about Vernon Dent, was thoroughly enjoyable. The childhood/adolescence background about his family was all new to me - Who knew his father was murdered, and that he had to overcome hardships of that sort? - and the early photos and newspaper accounts... Bill Cassara sure did his homework! As a lifelong Stooges fan, and for many years an admirer of Dent's work in those films, this was, in the truest sense, a treasure found."