The author recounts his life and career, his early fame, and his successful struggle to overcome alcoholism.
Like a used Kleenex, Hollywood more or less tossed Edd “Kookie” Byrnes aside when he was no longer wanted. Following a few teen-idol glory years, he was left to work the fringes, unable to give up the fast life or celebrity, hoping for another break that for even youthful has-beens seldom comes. Still and all, for a brief moment, he was a center of worship and celebrity that very few ever experience. 77 Sunset Strip was a glamorous, trend-setting TV show, a welcome contrast to the blander boilerplate of the day. Kookie’s character made the show. Teenagers loved him. His easygoing smile and hipster lingo were infectious, turning the Sunset Strip into a kind of a Mecca for America’s young people, even serving as a site for some of the Vietnam era’s earliest clashes with police. Now Byrne’s icon is known mainly to those of his own generation grown nostalgic about the past.