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New titles from others and research in progress

A new edition to the Hollywood Legends Series

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!  Read More 
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Zachary Scott

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.  Read More 
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A new biography of Gloria Swanson in the Hollywood Legends Series

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?  Read More 
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Rosalind Russell

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.  Read More 
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Nurse or Nun: Mary Wickes Cracking Wise

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.  Read More 
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A new 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? Read More 
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Lew Ayres

The University Press of Mississippi has just published Lesley Coffin's excellent biography of Lew Ayres, part of the Hollywood Legends Series I edit. I grew up watching the Dr. Kildare movies on television and had no idea this actor starred in All Quiet on the Western Front and Johnny Belinda. I also did not know that he was controversial because he was a conscientious objector during World War II. Decades later I met him in Detroit while he was touring with a movie he had made about the world's religions. I do not exaggerate when I say he had a saintly aura. I'd love to hear from you about your favorite Lew Ayres performances.  Read More 
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Hollywood Madonna

I just learned that Turner Classic Movies is making Loretta Young star of the month for January. I grew up watching her on television making those memorable, sweeping entrances, which Bernard F. Dick describes so well in his biography of Young, titled Hollywood Madonna. Dick's book is part of the Hollywood Legends series published by University Press of Mississippi. Dick has a wonderful chapter, by the way, on Young's radio performances. She took them quite seriously.

I don't know Young's work that well, and I'd be interested in hearing from you about which of her films you think I should watch. I'm looking forward to watching Kentucky starring Young, Richard Greene, and Walter Brennan, who won an Academy Award for his performance. I planning to write a biography of Brennan. Read More 
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The Incomparable Clifton Webb

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.  Read More 
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Audrey Hepburn Biographies

"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? Read More 
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