Moving Pictures To the Editor: To J. Hoberman’s roundup of books on the history of Hollywood (June 13), add Jeanine Basinger’s 2019 “The Movie Musical!” Starting with Al Jolson’s “The Jazz Singer” in 1927, it’s all there — Eddie Cantor, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Busby Berkeley, Lena Horne, Shirley Temple, Barbra Streisand and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, among many others. Plus: musical directors, the Broadway shows made into movies, biopics about composers, singers and dancers, operettas, animated musicals and insights into why certain stars in Broadway musicals never made it to stardom in Hollywood. Donald Nawi Scarsdale, N.Y. ♦ To the Editor: I was disappointed that no book on Latinos and Latinas in Hollywood was mentioned in J. Hoberman’s list. Given the fact that Hispanics have been part of the Dream Factory for more than a hundred years (from Dolores del Rio to Rita Hayworth, Anthony Quinn, Rita Moreno and Raquel Welch, among many others), I would like to strongly recommend Clara Rodriguez’s 2004 book, “Heroes, Lovers, and Others: The Story of Latinos in Hollywood.” Alejandro Lugo Park Forest, Ill. ♦ To the Editor: I enjoyed reading J. Hoberman’s list of Hollywood chronicles, but I would like to suggest an additional title, in honor especially of Pride Month: “The Celluloid Closet,” by Vito Russo, from 1981. Steven Ripley Seattle Captivity To the Editor: On May 18, a review of my book “Proof of Life: Twenty Days on the Hunt for a Missing Person in the Middle East” appeared on the New York Times website. Originally titled “How Do You Find an American Who Goes Missing in Syria?” — then corrected to “How Do You Find a Man Who Goes Missing in Syria?” after my publisher pointed out that the nationality of the missing person is not disclosed in my book — the review by Theo Padnos contained troubling errors. Padnos initially asserts that a dinner companion mentioned in the book, whom I had approached for information, was “an intelligence operative in the employ of the Emir of Qatar.” He is neither. Only after my publisher and I called attention to the error was the copy changed to identify him as “an extremely well-connected Saudi.” Much of Padnos’s commentary implies that I have never been to Syria. To the contrary, I have regularly done work and spent time in Syria, including during the period of Padnos’s own captivity in Aleppo. Finally, I am puzzled by Padnos’s expressed doubts that the person I helped to rescue might not exist. As he knows, many kidnap victims and their families prefer to not maintain a public profile. The fact that Padnos does not find a reference to the person online is irrelevant. Daniel LevinNew York Needles and Thread To the Editor: I was delighted to see Virginia Postrel’s June 13 review of Danielle Dreilinger’s “The Secret History of Home Economics,” but it pained me to read the author’s questioning of the academic relevance of home economics. The discipline puts a spotlight on how families are organized and how they interact with other institutions within and across time. Covid-19 has brought an entirely new generation to these questions. During its run, the At Home section in this paper was a weekly reminder of the relevance of home economics. Sara GableColumbia, Mo. ♦ To the Editor: The review of “The Secret History of Home Economics” reminded me of my eighth-grade sewing class at P.S. 139 in Brooklyn in 1947. Each girl in the school sewed her own graduation dress by hand. We all used the exact same pattern (in our particular size) but could choose any white material. During each sewing period we were taught the next step and returned the following week to continue the process. We were truly a vision on graduation day. I have loved sewing ever since. My only regret was that while all the girls were in sewing class, all the boys were in “shop” class. Much as I enjoyed making my graduation dress and other sewing projects, I envied the boys in shop. How I wanted to make bookends! Jane Feder Long Beach, N.Y.
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