An avid gourmet chef, he wrote a number of cookbooks.
He had his own mail-order book club in the 1970s, specializing in mystery and detective novels.
In 1964, at the request of a personal friend, he narrated a brief history of Tombstone, Arizona (titled, "Tombstone, The Town Too Tough To Die"), for use in the diorama at the site of the O.K. Corral gunfight. He reportedly recorded the 20-minute piece in a single take at a recording studio in Hollywood, and when asked about his fee, asked for his pal, the owner of the exhibit at the time, to buy him lunch. He never visited Tombstone but his narration is still used in the diorama.
He received a degree in art history from Yale and wrote a syndicated art column in the 1960s. An avid art collector, he founded a gallery on the campus of East Los Angeles College and encouraged others to develop a personal passion for art.
He would often attend showings of his films in costumes; often to play pranks on movie-goers.
He worked with Michael Jackson on one of his most famous music videos.