Lucille Ball Cooked THAT?

Frank DeCaro talks about his hilarious tribute to bygone stars, The Dead Celebrity Cookbook

by Susan Toepfer
Photograph: Everett Collection

More: There are a lot of chicken surprises here. Maybe I'm naive, but it never occurred to me to cook an avocado, and yet Elizabeth Taylor's chicken has cooked avocado in it.
: I know. I was wondering when you put that in—probably last.

More: She looked like she enjoyed her food, so it's probably good. I'm going to try it. But I was so excited when I saw "Harriet Nelson's Favorite Chicken." The mother of one of my friends when I was a kid used to make that dish, chicken baked with rice, and I've always wanted a recipe for it.
: It's so good. And it does emphasize using uncooked rice. It's kind of weird when you mix it all together, the hard rice and the cream soups, but it works. The rice actually cooks. It's three cans of cream soup, you look at it and say, what else does this need? Oh yes, cream and butter. 

More: I don't even want to think about the calorie and sodium count. Do you think these recipes contributed to the celebrities' deaths?
.: I hope not. I've chosen to believe that all the recipes are genuine and I also want to believe none of them died from the food.

More: Lucille Ball gets a whole chapter in your book, and yet you say she wasn't interested in food and never wanted to cook.
: I thought any woman who had that much trouble with food—she was attacked by a 12-foot loaf of bread, there was the brawl in the grape vat, the candy factory, the cheese smuggling—she gets her own chapter.

More: I was surprised you didn't include Danny Kaye, who was known for his Chinese cooking, and Vincent Price who, bizarrely, was a gourmet chef. My mother had his cookbook—it was bound in leather!
: Vincent Price is going to be the star of a horror chapter in Volume II, if they give me the go-ahead. I'll look for Danny Kaye. I want to build the Dead Celebrities into a brand. Even though the title is irreverent, I love every single person in this book. My goal is to keep their names out there.

Want MORE? Check out our slideshow of great moments in female bonding. 

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First Published November 10, 2011

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