FRAMINGHAM, MA- Between Mother's Day and Father's day, husband and wife, parents, Framingham residents and co-authors, David and Elsa Hornfischer find themselves telling and retelling the story of how their books came to be...
Listening to rock superstar Sting give a commencement address at Berklee College of Music, (where Dave is a Vice President), and hearing how Sting's mother had influenced his life, and later, when they were discussing how the public was so interested in celebrity lives, and stories of what influenced people to succeed, Dave and Elsa came up with an idea for a book about mothers of famous people...
The Hornfischers knew that finding an agent and publisher were nearly as hard as writing a book --- they knew since their son Jim is a literary agent and an author himself, (Right Thinking, by James D. Hornfischer, Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster).
Like many parents, the Hornfischers try to show interest in their children's work, so Dave and Elsa have presented several ideas for books to Jim, but none were ever written. This idea was different. Jim liked it enough to talk to a publisher, who also liked the idea and gave the couple a contract and an advance to produce the book "Mother Knew Best... wit and wisdom from the moms of celebrities".
Research for the book was done almost exclusively at the Framingham Public Library, by reading biographys and looking for quotes that reflected the influence mothers had on their famous offspring. While doing research the Hornfishers categorized the subjects based on seven recurring virtues that the mothers had instilled; Ambition, Courage, Devotion, Faith, Perspective, Responsibility, and Self-Discipline. One example, a "perspective" story is that of W.C. Fields who learned his sense of timing and sense of humor from his mom who later seeing him perform a routine in New York, commented, "I didn't realize you were watching me so closely as a child".
Having sold some 20,000 copies of the book, the Hornfischers naturally followed with "Father Knew Best...", which was released in April of 1997. The books each contain 101 quotes and anecdotes about parents of famous people.
The couple and their books have been featured in radio, newspaper and magazine articles, and they even maintain their own web site to promote the books and their other interests which include Elsa's stained glass work, (Elsa is also Framingham Town Meeting Member, and recently on the Rt. 126 Corridor Study). Dave writes reviews on sports and business books and posts them on the website along with info from his academic/financial interests. (Here's one of Elsa's stained glass pieces!)
Taking a quote from their homepage on why the books are so popular, the Hornfischers write; "At a time when our society is looking to understand, develop and enhance the concept of family values, it is important that we look to our role models for illustrative examples of how their values were shaped by their parents".
The couple's has two maried children, Jim, a literary agent living with his wife Sharon and child 'to be' in Austin TX, and Amy (Michaud), who attended Framingham South High and lives in Framingham with her husband Marcel and son Jacob.
Here's a list of just some of the celebrities in the "Knew Best.." books; Milton Berle, Frank Lloyd Wright, Booker T.Washington, Zsa Zsa Gabor, James Whistler, Lou Gehrig, Joan Lunden, Henry Fonda, Dan Rather , Gene Autry, Joan Rivers, Norman Vincent Peale, Shelly Winters, Reba McEntire, Helen Keller, Douglas MacArthur, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Henry Kissinger, Geraldine Ferraro, Jackie Robinson, Chris Burke, Hans Christian Anderson, Andrew Jackson, Carl Sandburg, Sojourner Truth, Hume Cronyn, Dan Jansen, Elvis Presley, Leonard Bernstein, Emmitt Smith, Dr. Charles Mayo, Jack Benny, Sally Jessy Raphael, Bill Cosby, Larry King, Sigmond Freud, Bill Russell, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Roger Clemens, Van Cliburn, Duke Ellington, Judy Garland, Sting, Mohammad Ali, Loretta Lynn, Mahatma Gandhi, Dolly Parton, Mother Theresa, Robert Frost, Robert Louis Stevenson , Marian Anderson, Naomi Judd, Kathie Lee Gifford, Danny Thomas, Diana Ross, Johnny Cash, Rachael Carson, John Cleese, Eric Sevareid, David Brenner, W. C. Fields, Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope, Will Rogers, Doris Day, Jack Lemmon, Harry S. Truman, Meryl Streep, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Shirley Temple Black, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Norman Rockwell, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Mark Twain, Dr. Benjamin Spock, David Letterman, Barbara Bush, Lauren Bacall, Warrick Dunn, Barbara Lavallee, Patsy Cline, Louisa May Alcott, Houdini, Bill Gates, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ginger Rogers, Albert Einstein, Marie Antoinette, Jimmy Carter, Dale Carnegie Tom Seaver, Henry Ford, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Thomas Edison, Martina Navatilova, Christa McAuliffe, Margaret Thatcher, Benjamin Franklin, Stephen Spielberg, Mickey Mantle, Michael Jordan, Carl Yastrzemski, Roberto Clemente, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Bill Bradley, Fiorello LaGuardia, Pablo Picasso, Ansel Adams, Paul Simon, Liza Minnelli, Walt Disney, Conrad Hilton, and many more...
will be doing
a book signing at
June 7, 1997Mother Knew Best... wit and wisdom from moms of celebrities. ISBN: 0-452-27618-7 Penguin/Plume (paperback) $9.95 Father Knew Best... wit and wisdom from dads of celebrities. ISBN: 0-452-27772-8 Penguin/Plume (paperback) $10.95