New titles from others and research in progress

A new Marilyn Monroe

December 21, 2012

Tags: Marilyn Monroe

A new edition
I'm pleased to announce that University Press of Mississippi will be publishing a new edition of my biography, Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress. This new edition will take into account much new material that has become available about her life and career as well some revelations from interviews I conducted more than twenty-five years ago when some of my informants requested anonymity. I believe I can provide a more complete picture of what was happening during Monroe last days, when she seemed simultaneously poised to make a breakthrough in her career and downhearted at disapointments with herself and others over how to emerge as a still greater human being and artist.

There are so many different readings of Marilyn Monroe's final days. What is yours?

The Incomparable Clifton Webb

October 6, 2012

Tags: Dana Andrews, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Darryl Zanuck

Star of stage and screen
In his prime, Clifton Webb was a great song and dance man--on a par with Fred Astaire. When Otto Preminger wanted him to star in Laura, Darryl Zanuck was skeptical. He wanted the heavyweight actor Laird Cregar. But Webb's ascerbic wit stole the show, and he became a great star for Fox. Zanuck became quite fond of his star, and when the producer's daughter announced plans for a wedding, Zanuck asked Webb to teach him how to dance. Imagine Zanuck and Webb, cheek to cheek. Off screen Webb was not like the waspish Waldo Lydecker (his character in Laura). He was witty, to be sure, but also generous, recognizing early the talents of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean and encouraging both of them. Sitting Pretty includes all of Webb's unfinished autobiography, which--as you might imagine--is as elegant as the man. Dana Andrews learned a lot from his co-star in Laura and the two remained great friends.

Audrey Hepburn Biographies

August 18, 2012

Tags: Audrey Hepburn, Donald Spoto, Barry Parris, Alexander Walker, Diana Maychick, Jeffrey Meyers, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, "Sabrina, " William Holden, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Marc Eliot, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner

"Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn" (Harmony, 352 pages, $25.95) enters a crowded field. Barry Paris's encyclopedic "Audrey Hepburn" appeared in 1996, Alexander Walker's astute "Audrey" in 1994, and Diana Maychick's chatty "intimate portrait" in 1993 — just to mention Donald Spoto's immediate predecessors. At this point, the impatient reviewer is supposed to complain, "Do we really need another biography "of Audrey Hepburn? (more…)

Marilyn 50 Years later

August 6, 2012

Tags: Marilyn Monroe, Lois Banner, Michelle Morgan, Fragments

The first edition cover of my biography
It has been fifty years since Marilyn Monroe died and interest in her continues to increase. Why? Of course, many reasons can be offered. As a biographer, I want to repeat what Matthew Bruccoli said when he was asked why he was publishing another biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald: more facts. And it is true. We continue to learn more about Marilyn Monroe, about the books she read, the meals she prepared, the letters and poems she wrote, and so on. In other words, we are learning more about the person. I just read a piece about the photographer Lawrence Schiller, who pointed out that in the 1970s there was great interest in nude Marilyn Monroe photographs, but that now there seems more interest in pictures that show her as a real person. We are still learning just how complex she was. Let me just mention three books that show how much more there is to know about Marilyn Monroe: Lois Banner's new biography, which has fascinating pages on Monroe's affinity for Christian Science (just to mention one of many revelations); Fragments, a fascinating collections of her letters, notes, and other writings; and Michelle Morgan's biography, which contains testimony from many people whom the other Marilyn Monroe biographers did not interview. I'd love to hear about your own reading of books about Marilyn Monroe and why she remains such a cynosure.

Celeste Holm, dead at 95

July 15, 2012

Tags: Celeste Holm, Marilyn Monroe, <i>All About Eve</i>

Celeste Holm in her prime
Celeste Holm just died. I know her best from her role in All About Eve where she is taken in by Eve, played by Anne Baxter, a seemingly innocent fan of Margo Channing (Bette Davis). But Baxter's Eve is cunning, and quite a contrast to Miss Caswell (Marilyn Monroe), who is on the arm of George Sanders, playing the critic Addison De Witt. It is Sanders who has that wonderful line about Miss Caswell as the graduate of the Copacabana School of Acting. I write about this wonderful film in my biography of Marilyn Monroe. I would love to get your memories of watching Celeste Holm on screen. Or--remind me of who is left from Hollywood's golden age. Olivia de Havilland still lives. So does that wonderful character actor, Norman Lloyd, who is in his late 90s and starred in two films with Dana Andrews. Lloyd, last I checked with him, was still playing doubles tennis!

Hollywood's Golden Age

June 2, 2012

Tags: Dana Andrews, Marilyn Monroe, Sam Goldwyn, biographies of film stars and other legends

From Laura (Gene Tierney getting the third degree)
Welcome to the Hollywood Legends Blog. I am the consulting editor for the Hollywood Legends Series, published by the University Press of Mississippi. I will be writing on the subjects of my biographies (Dana Andrews and Marilyn Monroe) but also about anyone who might qualify as a "legend," and that includes directors, producers, and (more…)