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Salah Bachir's Memoir: A Journey Through Fame and Compassion

Posted at 10:48 PM, Jul 02, 2024

Disclaimer: This Inside South Florida segment is sponsored by Signal, an imprint Penguin Random House Canada. All opinions and views are of the advertiser and does not reflect the same of WSFL-TV.

With everyone searching for good reads to add to their reading list this summer, Inside South Florida brings you one more recommendation to consider. “First to Leave the Party: My Life with Ordinary People... Who Happen to be Famous” is a compelling memoir by Salah Bachir. This fascinating book delves into the author's extraordinary life and his friendships with notable celebrities.

Salah explained the intriguing title of his book. "First to Leave the Party: My Life with Ordinary People… Who Happen to Be Famous” is my encounters with different celebrities over the years that I've interviewed and become friends with,” he shared. The phrase 'first to leave the party' also hints at the idea that sometimes, it’s wise to exit before overstaying one’s welcome.

One of the standout anecdotes in the book involves Marlon Brando attending a family barbecue. "Marlon Brando was filming “The Freshman” film in Toronto. I was asked to go interview Matthew Broderick, who was hot after “Ferris Bueller's Day Off.” Brando was sitting there, and I started talking to him… He asked, where he could get good Lebanese food, and I said my mom's. So we ended up having a barbecue in the backyard," Salah recounted with a smile.

Salah also highlighted his experiences during the early days of the AIDS crisis in New York and the significant contributions of celebrities like Larry Kramer, Doris Day, Elizabeth Taylor, and Princess Diana. "During the AIDS crisis no one was on our side, no one was supporting. And so you’d think, ‘Oh, my God, I my nephew's coming over? Should they be coming over? Should I be drinking from the same glass?,’ he explained. He highlighted how the incredible compassion from these celebrities by publicly supporting AIDS patients helped break a lot of the stigma in society.

As an activist and founder of several community AIDS programs, Salah has witnessed significant changes over the years. "I think there's a lot more acceptance. There's still stigma in some cases, but we found community centers that try and help everyone [whether they’re] gay, or refugees, immigrants, someone who needs counseling, someone who needs clothes, or who needs food… It was important that our community centers welcome everyone," he said.

What makes Salah’s memoir unique is its focus on what celebrities do with their fame rather than their achievements. "I wanted to focus on, not how many awards they've won, or how many movies they've made, but what they actually did with their celebrity – like whether they found foundations like Paul Newman, or whether people like Andy Warhol gave a lot of his paintings to his foundation to give to other galleries," he noted.

When asked if there were any celebrities he wished he had included, Salah mentioned, "I wish I wrote more about people like Eartha Kitt or Celine Dion or Donald Sutherland…, There's always more."

For more information on Salah Bachir or to purchase his book, visit salahbachir.com. The book is also available on Amazon and at local bookstores.

Inside South Florida

10:49 AM, Jul 26, 2019

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