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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill R...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Book on Johnny Carson fails to qualify as biography


Like millions of other Americans, I enjoyed watching “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson” during the 30 years Carson hosted the late-night TV staple.

I was often curious about the private life of the impossibly suave and seemingly imperturbable man who did such a wonderful job as host and comedian night after night. But Carson apparently was a rather unhappy and mean-spirited individual who spent all his free time drinking, smoking and chasing women, at least according to Henry Bushkin, author of “Johnny Carson” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013).

To be fair, Bushkin’s book is not really a biography of Carson – a more accurate title would be “Carson and Me.” There is precious little information on Carson’s early family life in Nebraska, apart from a description of his mother as a heartless, impossible-to-please woman.

The author, who spent most of the 1970s and 1980s as Carson’s lawyer, confidante, tennis partner and general all-around fixer, provides plenty of behind-the-scenes snapshots of the man behind the public figure, but most are descriptions of the things Carson and Bushkin did together.

I felt a certain guilty pleasure while reading “Johnny Carson.” There are details of the parties Carson threw and attended with his many rich and famous friends, most of whom were his drinking buddies. He maintained a friendship with Frank Sinatra, though Sinatra might have been the only man who intimidated Carson.

The book fully chronicles Carson’s many failings as husband and father. After all, he was married four times, cheated remorselessly on all of his wives and spent no time with any of the three sons he had with his first wife, Joan.

Bushkin was certainly a good lawyer and friend to Carson. He negotiated numerous contracts for the Carson show; the rental and purchase of various properties, homes and businesses; and the shows Carson performed in Las Vegas for years. But along the way, it is clear that Bushkin lost some of his morals through his association with the entertainer. Bushkin’s womanizing eventually led to his own divorce.

Carson ultimately fired Bushkin, like he did so many other of his employees, in a cold and casual manner, the apparent victim of unsupported rumors.

What was Carson really like? According to Bushkin, he was “an incredibly complex man: one moment gracious, funny and generous; and curt, aloof and hard-hearted in the next.”

“Johnny Carson” left me feeling rather sad: both for Bushkin, who lost his way while attached to a rich, demanding man, and for Carson, who died alone and seemingly adrift from his family.

Bushkin’s tome should make an entertaining read for book clubs that enjoy nonfiction and biographies, though a thorough biography of Carson, one of America’s most beloved hosts and entertainers, remains to be written.

Leslie Ashmore is a longtime Mountain View resident who belongs to two book clubs.

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