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You can read People or US Weekly magazine or log onto E Online to get the latest scoop on what's happening in Hollywood. But if you want a real insider's take then you should read The Diary of Jinky: Dog of a Hollywood Wife.
Yes, Jinky is indeed a dog - a bat-faced terrier mongrel to be exact - and he's seen it all, right from the moment he was rescued from "death row" by his mother Carole Raphaelle Davis, an actress, singer, and animal activist, living in the Hollywood Hills.
Davis, who got her big break in the 1984 movie The Flamingo Kid with Matt Dillon, is a nice Jewish girl born in London and raised in Scotland, France, Thailand and New York, thanks to her father's career. "I was a CIA brat," Davis says as she, Jinky, and Jinky's "wife" Finley (another rescue terrier) hang out around Davis's pool.
Jinky refers to his "parents'" pool a fair amount in his book. It's the pool into which Davis's husband (Emmy award winning writer Kevin Rooney) once threw his laptop computer and his phone. Apparently, according to Jinky, throwing things into the pool from the upper balconies of the house is a common occurrence with his parents.
This warts and all book shines a light on how preposterous the whole "Hollywood lifestyle" can be. Jinky trains his wet nose on his parents' crazy shenanigans, all the while discussing how much he enjoys living in the lap of luxury; including long soaks in the Jacuzzi and trips to the South of France.
Says Jinky: "All my mom and dad do is complain. My mom used to be somebody, but she doesn't want to remember who that was. She was in movies, on TV, she made records and she was an underwear model. My dad is a writer, or at least he sleeps at the computer a lot...And mom and dad are just the tip of the iceberg. Their friends are all nuttier than they are. But that's Hollywood. A lot of neurotic people and lucky dogs."
And while amusing, the book definitely serves a higher purpose. The entire purpose of the book is to raise awareness of the millions of animals being killed in rescue shelters around the world every day. For most of her adult life, Davis has owned only rescue dogs, and hopes others will avoid puppy mills and pet stores and instead head to their local shelter to adopt.
DAVIS IS the first to admit that her showbiz life was completely meaningless. "All of the pursuits I had as a young woman were incredibly shallow and stupid," says Davis, who is now in her late 40s. An actress and singer who has always been on the fringes of Hollywood, over the years Davis has appeared in many films and TV shows, and has released a number of singing albums. She appeared in 1987's Mannequin and in an episode of Sex and The City, but says that were it not for her shallow excesses in her youth, she'd never have become the activist she is today. Nor is she concerned about sending herself up in the book. "I think in order for this book to work you have to make fun of yourself. I can't just make fun of everyone else," she says.
While Davis says her upbringing was "completely secular", there is one chapter in the book titled: "Rabbi Jinkleberg Quotes the Talmud," in which Jinky says, "The Talmud has a saying that could help a lot of dogs: 'If you save one life it is as if you saved the whole world.'" He then goes on to berate celebrities and others who don't rescue pets from shelters. "It's such a perfect communication," says Davis. "When people say they couldn't possibly adopt a pet from a shelter because they'd want to take them all home, I tell them, you don't have to take them all, you just have to take one. Every life is significant."
Because her mother is French, Davis spent a great deal of time growing up in France, and while her Jewish education was minimal, she says, "I could never walk by a plaque on a wall in my neighborhood in Paris without feeling deeply wounded. The scars of WWII were everywhere." One plaque near her home read "Hundreds of Jews were rounded up on this very spot and deported to Auschwitz with the help of the French citizenry." "I had to walk by that every day," says Davis, "and many others like it. I felt lucky to be born when I was, otherwise I wouldn't be here today."
In fact, it was in France in 2004, while writing a series of articles for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal on anti-Semitism in Europe, that Davis began working on what would eventually become The Diary of Jinky. "It was incredibly depressing, I was writing about anti-Semitic crimes including a woman who was in a caf reading a Hebrew paper who had her nose broken." In order to take a break from all the terrible news she was writing, Davis began a blog about the shallowness of Hollywood, writing it from the point of view of her dog. "That was fun for me," she says, "because it was fluffy and a way to skewer the excesses of Hollywood society." The blog took off, and one thing led to another. Two years later The Diary of Jinky was published.
And while a friend of a friend in the publishing industry helped get the book off the ground, and it has received a glowing review from Jay Leno, Davis says she doesn't think her Hollywood career has helped in the publishing of the book. "I'm D-list," she states matter-of-factly. "My career as an actress is dead. When you're 40 your dead [in this industry]. Over 45 you're a rotting corpse. I've been spit out already."
Davis ponders the Hollywood obsession with youth and beauty briefly. "I'm a much better actress today than when I was making a ton of money in my 20s," she muses. "I didn't know what I was doing then and I have the movies to prove it." But none of that matters to Davis any more. Her real mission in life is to continue promoting awareness for rescue animals, for which homes are always needed.
Having been to Israel many years ago, Davis says she hopes to return. Just as Hurricane Katrina produced so many abandoned pets, she remarks, there must be displaced pets in Israel from this summer's war in Lebanon in need of homes.
In the meantime, her book is already garnering the exact type of feedback she wants. Somebody recently recognized Jinky from his Web site (www.hollywoodjinky.com) and told Davis she began volunteering at a local shelter on the strength of Jinky's tales. "That to me was huge," says Davis. "One stop by Jinky's Web site created an activist." Which, she adds, just goes to prove rescue dogs make the best pets. "After all," she says, "Jinky surpassed all of our wildest dreams by writing a book."