For me it was Love is Eternal by Irving Stone. I read the book when my children were babies and I was home with them. And then I wanted to know all about Lincoln’s descendants: Did they marry, did they have children, were any alive? My quest took me to the Huntmgton Library, where I met a collector named Justin Turner. He was an elderly man thrilled that someone really young wanted to learn about Lincoln.
He took me under his wing, and I started doing research, learning about rare books and manuscripts. I got a job working for his son-in-law, who owned a manuscript gallery in Beverly Hills called the Scriptorium. They put a dollar value on my hours and paid me in manuscripts. In my first year I got my first Lincoln manuscript and a Thomas Edison eulogy on Lincoln.
Then I heard David Wolper was going to produce a six-hour mini-series on Sandburg’s Lincoln, and a producer friend introduced me to one of his people. I was hired immediately. I did research, worked with casting and makeup, and wheeled all my material around the Paramount lot on a trolley. Best of all, I got to Springfield, Illinois, to do research. And it all started with Irving Stone.