Danny Getchell

Created by James Ellroy

“I wiggled wires. I circumscribed circuits. I rigged reciprocal reverb and sent sound to both rooms. I picked up my Polaroid and flew off the floor.
I hammered down the hallway. I banged both doors off their bolts. I found the fetching foursome perched in Pat’s parlor.
Pat was knock-kneed nude. Parker’s pants pooled at his patellas. Polly was baby-buff and tantalizingly tan. The stacked steno stared at her — savagely Sapphic.
I popped one perfect Polaroid. Insurance for loss of life or limb. I buried it by a burger stand at Beverly and Berendo.”
— from “The Trouble I Cause”

Fans of James Ellroy‘s sprawling neo-noir 1990 classic L.A. Confidential about crooked cops set loose in 1950’s L.A. may recall the pivotal role that the notorious Hollywood scandal sheet Hush-Hush played. And more than a few people probably recall Danny’s Devito’s sleazily sublime performance as Sid Hudgeons, a writer for the rag in the Oscar-nabbing 1997 film adaptation.

Perhaps in tribute to DeVito’s performance, Ellroy named his spin-off series character DANNY GETCHELL. Getchell’s the unctous editor-in-chief and headwriter of Hush-Hush (“off the record, on the Q.T. and very hush-hush”), who appeared in a quartet of short stories appearing in GQ in the late nineties.

Danny’s an ace of alliteration, a hate-filled homophobic joy-juice junkie with the killer instincts of, well, a demon dog, digging up and dishing out dirt on such sin-tillating celebs as Sinatra, Mitchum, Turner and Hudson. Okay, so fact and fiction are a little blurred here, but the stories are a hoot, although the rat-a-tat-tat alliteration can wear you down.

By the way, in a nifty bit of fourth-wall notation, we’re informed that the stories–narrated as a series of fever dream reminisces by the weaselly Getchell, from his bed in an AIDS ward–are only being published by GQ because Danny  has “an artful array of dirt on Art Cooper–the editor-in-chief” (Cooper, at the time, was GQ‘s actual editor).

The stories were subsequently collected in book form, but do if you can, hunt down the actual issues of GQ they appeared in, right away. It’ll be worth it–the stories are chockfull of actual photos of the celebs skulking about, and they all sport primo illustrations by guys like Riccardo Vechhio and Owen Smith.

By the way, there actually was a  Hush-Hush. And Detective Freddie Otash of the LAPD, who appeared in L.A. Confidential, sold dirt to the tabloids, and later became a private eye? He was a real guy, too, and Ellroy claims to have actually known him. One can only wonder if someone as slimy as Getchell also once slid across the face of the earth….

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His L.A. Quartet novels — The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz –were all international bestsellers. Other books include American Tabloid, his memoir My Dark Places, The Cold Six Thousand and Blood’s a Rover. Although his first novel was Brown’s Requiem, he claims he’s not necessarily a fan of private eye novels.

SHORT STORIES

  • “Hush-Hush” (September 1998, GQ; also 1999, Crime Wave)
  • “Tijuana Mon Amour, Part 1” (February 1999, GQ; also 1999, Crime Wave)
  • “Tijuana Mon Amour, Part 2” (March 1999, GQ; also 1999, Crime Wave)
  • “The Trouble I Cause” (March 2000, GQ; also 2004, Destination: Morgue!)

COLLECTIONS

  • Crime Wave: Reportage and Fiction from the Underside of L.A. (1999)Buy this book
    Features two “Hush-Hush” and “Tijuana My Amour” (parts one and two)
  • Destination: Morgue! L.A. Tales (2004)Buy this bookKindle it!
    Contains “The Trouble I Cause.”

DICK OF THE DAY

FURTHER INVESTIGATION

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. The still is of Danny DeVito as Sid in the 1997 film version of L.A. Confidential. Close enough for rock’n’roll, I say.

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