New titles from others and research in progress

The biography of a book

November 19, 2017

Tags: Louisa May Alcott, Susan Sontag

I reviewed Anne Boyd Rioux’s biography of Constance Fenimore Woolson and can tell you she is a consummate writer. Louisa May Alcott, I don’t have to tell you, has had an enormous influence on generations of women and men (I can testify to that). Little Women had a significant impact on one of my subjects, Susan Sontag, as my wife and I recount in Susan Sontag: The Making of an Icon

A new book by one of the masters of Hollywood history

November 19, 2017

Tags: Dustin Hoffman, Ann Bancroft, Mike Nichols

Beverly Gray worked for Roger Corman, wrote a biography of him, and now offers the biography of a film, a Hollywood classic. I have followed Beverly’s work and her blog, in which she covers so many fascinating issues in the world of cinema. I recommend her work to anyone interested in Hollywood and how film has shaped our culture.

The first Dan Duryea biography

September 19, 2017

From A Classic Movie blog review: "an engaging read, because it is deeply satisfying to admire the intelligence with which this consummate professional approached his life and career. He was a smart, compassionate man, who brought joy to those around him and the reminisces of the people he knew are some of the best passages in the book."

Donald Spoto's biography of Teresa Wright is the newest edition to the Hollywood Legends series

January 12, 2016

Donald Spoto was Teresa Wright's friend, and his book was written with the full cooperation of Wright's family.

The first biography of this wonderful comic actress and singer

May 23, 2015

Tags: Mel Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Barbra Streisand, Peter Bogdanovich

The newest edition to the Hollywood Legends series
Library Journal hails this comprehensive treatment of a Hollywood star as sensitive and authoritative. Based on extensive interviews with Kahn's family and friends, and with a wonderful collection of photographs, Kahn's life and work is celebrated and examined with marvelous insight and care. You learn a good deal about her working methods and her relationships with Mel Brooks, Peter Bogdanovich, Barbra Streisand, and many others.

A new edition to the Hollywood Legends Series

June 14, 2014

Tags: Sam Goldwyn, Dana Andrews, Walter Brennan, Hollywood producers, movie studios

I kept going back to Carol Easton's engaging biography not only to learn about Goldwyn and the history of Hollywood by someone who grew up in its environs, but also because the biographer was able to elicit such interesting material from actors such as Dana Andrews and Walter Brennan when others seems fearful of what Goldwyn and his organization might do to them if they talked!

Zachary Scott

October 21, 2013

Tags: Mildred Pierce, Joan Crawford

It's nice to see the Zachary Scott book in paperback. Ronald Davis was the first consulting editor for the Hollywood Legends series. He taught at Southern Methodist University there and established an archive of interviews with Hollywood figures. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also has copies of interview transcripts. I succeeded Davis as consulting editor. One of the first things I did was read his fine biography of Scott.

A new biography of Gloria Swanson in the Hollywood Legends Series

September 7, 2013

Tags: Swanson, Joseph Kennedy, Billy Wilder, Erich von Stroheim

Tricia Welsch's new biography, published by University Press of Mississippi for the Hollywood Legends series I edit, is a wonderful new addition to Hollywood history. My introduction to Swanson came through Sunset Boulevard. To see her say to Mr. DeMille that she is ready for her closeup is unforgettable. Strange, or perhaps not so strange for Hollywood, that this "comeback" role led to no comeback for Swanson. But she was such a resilient and original figure, it is hard to feel much sadness. The affair with Joseph Kennedy, the interplay between her and Erich von Stroheim, and the inimitable direction of Billy Wilder--what more could you ask for? What is your favorite Swanson role?

Rosalind Russell

June 29, 2013

Tags: Rosalind Russell, Frank Sinatra, Auntie Mame, Gypsy, His Gal Friday

What makes Bernard F. Dick's biography of Rosalind Russell so compelling is his impressively informed discussions of her both her stage and film work. Even better, he saw Russell on stage, which means he can recreate the experience of seeing her perform--always a difficult task for biographers who have not observed their subjects in action. Dick's awesome knowledge of Hollywood, his reading of the archives, and his splendid appreciation of different media makes this a compelling read for anyone interested in the history of American theater and film. Full disclosure: this book is part of the Hollywood Legends series I edit for University Press of Mississippi. It was acquired by my predecessor, Ronald Davis, a distinguished film historian and biographer.

Nurse or Nun: Mary Wickes Cracking Wise

May 30, 2013

Tags: Mary Wickes, Bette Davis, Now Voyager, Lucille Ball, Sister Act, Character actresses

Remember this face or voice? Steve Taravella has written a wonderful new biography of Mary Wickes in Hollywood Legends series I edit for University Press of Mississippi. The book is based on years of research, including many interviews. You can learn about Wickes's friendship with Lucille Ball as well as Wickes's work for Walt Disney. What is your favorites Wickes performance? Or tell me about your favorite character actors and actresses.