Richard Lamparski's Whatever Became Of...? series changed my life. After buying some used copies at a garage sale from my friend Chip Burnside's mom, I became obsessed with all these old-time former stars I'd never heard of, and the rest is history when it comes to my relationship with fame.
Because it's totally breaking news, I thought I'd point out that even though the first volume was published 45 years ago, and even though everyone in the book was already decades past their greatest achievements, there are still—incredibly—four people alive from that book today.
Juvenile silent star turned film historian Baby Peggy (just got a nice note from her recently), who will turn 94 in October; film/TV star Joan Leslie, who is 87; '30s singing kid actor Bobby Breen, who is 84; and '50s child TV star turned stage actress Evelyn Rudie, who is the baby of the pack at a mere 63.
Why did Lamparski stop doing the books after volume 11? (After covering 1,100 figures.) He has said interest dried up. The Internet can't have helped, but it would seem other outlets took over books when it came to nostalgia—after all, many stars of yesteryear were de-mothballed in the '80s on episodic TV. I sure miss books like his, though.