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Author Spotlight: Dr.Lona Bailey

The esteemed Los Angeles Tribune presents an interview with Dr. Lona Bailey, the renowned author of “Voice of Villainy: The Betty Lou Gerson Story”. The book explores the life and career of Betty Lou Gerson, a legendary voice actress whose most famous role was Cruella de Vil in Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. 

For years, Dr. Lona Bailey has dedicated herself to researching and writing about Betty Lou Gerson’s life. Her book unveils Gerson’s meteoric rise from an unknown voice actress to one of Disney’s most iconic villains. With a combination of in-depth interviews and archival research, Dr. Bailey presents a comprehensive, captivating look at the life and career of this legendary star. 

Join us as we delve into Dr. Bailey’s creative process and how she uncovered the captivating story of this Hollywood icon. Below is our interview with Dr. Lona Bailey where you can learn more about Betty Lou Gerson and the making of “Voice of Villainy”.

LA Tribune: Who are you targeting with the book? Who is your ideal reader?

Dr. Bailey: The ideal reader for Voice of Villainy is any entertainment buff who enjoys the behind-the-scenes glimpses of icons such as Betty Lou’s most memorable role as Disney’s original “Cruella De Vil.” While this book primarily focuses on the life and career of Betty Lou Gerson, the descriptions of the classic systems of radio, film, and television themselves will also interest history enthusiasts. 

LA Tribune: How did you go about researching Betty Lou Gerson and uncovering details that might have been previously unknown?

Dr. Bailey: Because Betty’s career began in radio, my research efforts began with radio preservation societies with which I am affiliated, such as the Society to Preserve and Encourage Radio Drama, Variety, and Comedy (SPERDVAC). From the archive research with SPERDAC, I was able to locate some of Betty’s extended family who allowed me to conduct interviews with them. I was also able to connect with several of Betty’s colleagues from her radio, film, and television work, including Mimi Gibson who voiced “Lucky” the puppy on Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961). 

LA Tribune: Why do you think readers should buy the book?

Dr. Bailey: I think readers should buy the book to learn more about one of the world’s most infamous screen villainesses and the luminous personal life and career that led her to assume such a role. “Cruella De Vil” is such a cultural icon for so many generations, and readers may enjoy learning about the “who” behind the husky tones of everyone’s favorite antagonist. 

LA Tribune: What was the most rewarding part of writing this book?

Dr. Bailey: One of the most rewarding parts of this process was being able to, through research, unmask such a villainess from my own childhood to find she was actually a lovely lady who just happened to be a master dramatist. She terrified millions of kids with her fabulously diabolical portrayal, and yet, in her private life, she was the antithesis of her most renowned role. 

LA Tribune: What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write biographies or histories about Hollywood stars from the Golden Age?

Dr. Bailey: Hollywood’s Golden Age is a fascinating era in history that still has implications for our current culture and conceptualization of entertainment. There are millions of untold Hollywood stories and I admire all aspiring authors who want to uncover more of those and share them with the world. My advice to aspiring authors in this genre is for them to join in the preservation efforts of the Golden Era with quality research to share even more dimensions of Hollywood’s gothic-glamor age. 

Voice of Villainy: The Betty Lou Gerson Story” is available at Dr. Lona Bailey is a Golden Age of Hollywood researcher and writer of “Uncredited: The Life and Career of Actress Virginia Gregg” and “The Voice of Villainy: The Betty Lou Gerson Story.” As a PhD and former therapist, Lona is passionate about telling the untold stories of women who perhaps weren’t finished using their own voices during their earthly journeys. Lona is a mother of three with a balanced perspective on the multidimensional elements involved in legacy-maintenance with particular interest in the preservation efforts of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Lona’s biographic works are delicately researched and written with a candid and fair pen and plenty of room for levity. Old Hollywood holds millions of secrets in its gothic sensationalism; with its dark secrets, come just as many shimmering triumphs– and Old Hollywood wouldn’t be as we know it without both. Learn more about Dr. Lona Bailey and join her newsletter where she shares more exciting facts discovered during the research from her books:

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