Lovers of film and television have an insatiable appetite when it comes to learning all about the off-camera lives of their favorite stars. This is why that popular culture biographies continue to be best-sellers. There’s something that is so exciting about learning about how Hollywood icons live that is both fascinating and oddly down-to-earth. (After all, even the biggest star in Tinseltown is just a person at the end of the day). Here then are five biographies that will provide you with a look into the experiences of some unforgettable celebrities!
Wildly entertaining, Maria Riva reveals the rich life of her mother in vivid detail. Opening with Dietrich’s childhood in Berlin, we meet an energetic, disciplined, and ambitious young actress whose own mother equated the stage with a world of vagabonds and thieves. Dietrich would quickly rise to stardom on the Berlin stage in the 1920’s with her sharp wit and bisexual sexuality—while wearing the top hat and tails that revolutionized our concept of beauty and femininity. Dietrich comes alive in these pages in all of her incarnations: as muse, artistic collaborator, bonafide movie star, box-office poison, lover, wife, and mother. She would stand up to the Nazis and galvanize American troops, eventually earning the Congressional Medal of Freedom. There were her artistic relationships with Josef von Sternberg (The Blue Angel, Morocco, Shanghai Express), Colette, Erich Maria Remarque, Noël Coward and Cole Porter, and her heady romances. In her final years, she would make herself visibly invisible, devoting herself to the immortality of her legend. Marlene Dietrich: The Life captures this complex and astonishing woman. Maria Riva’s biography of her mother has the depth, range, and resonance of a novel and captures the conviction and passion of its remarkable subject.
The first biography of the greatest filmmaker that nobody knows! Academy Award-winning director Michael Curtiz (1886-1962), whose best-known films include Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Mildred Pierce, and White Christmas, was in many ways the anti-auteur. During his unprecedented twenty-seven year tenure at Warner Brothers, he directed swashbuckling adventures, westerns, musicals, war epics, romances, historical dramas, horror films, tearjerkers, melodramas, comedies, and film noir masterpieces. The director’s staggering output of 180 films surpasses that of the legendary John Ford and exceeds the combined total of films directed by George Cukor, Victor Fleming, and Howard Hawks. In the first biography of this colorful, instinctual artist, Alan K. Rode illuminates the life and work of one of the film industry’s most complex figures. He begins by exploring the director’s early life and career in his native Hungary, revealing how Curtiz shaped the earliest days of silent cinema in Europe as he acted in, produced, and directed scores of films before immigrating to the United States in 1926. In Hollywood, Curtiz earned a reputation for his explosive tantrums, his difficulty communicating in English, and his disregard for the well-being of others. However, few directors elicited more memorable portrayals from their casts, and ten different actors delivered Oscar-nominated performances under his direction. In addition to his study of the director’s remarkable legacy, Rode investigates Curtiz’s dramatic personal life, discussing his enduring creative partnership with his wife, screenwriter Bess Meredyth, as well as his numerous affairs and children born of his extramarital relationships. This meticulously researched biography provides a nuanced understanding of one of the most talented filmmakers of Hollywood’s golden age.
“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?” These famous lines from The Graduate (1967) would forever link Anne Bancroft (1931–2005) to the groundbreaking film and confirm her status as a movie icon. Along with her portrayal of Annie Sullivan in the stage and film drama The Miracle Worker, this role was a highlight of a career that spanned a half-century and brought Bancroft an Oscar, two Tonys, and two Emmy awards. In the first biography to cover the entire scope of Bancroft’s life and career, Douglass K. Daniel brings together interviews with dozens of her friends and colleagues, never-before-published family photos, and material from film and theater archives to present a portrait of an artist who raised the standards of acting for all those who followed. Daniel reveals how, from a young age, Bancroft was committed to challenging herself and strengthening her craft. Her talent (and good timing) led to a breakthrough role in Two for the Seesaw, which made her a Broadway star overnight. The role of Helen Keller’s devoted teacher in the stage version of The Miracle Worker would follow, and Bancroft also starred in the movie adaption of the play, which earned her an Academy Award. She went on to appear in dozens of film, theater, and television productions, including several movies directed or produced by her husband, Mel Brooks. Anne Bancroft: A Life offers new insights into the life and career of a determined actress who left an indelible mark on the film industry while remaining true to her art.
William Shatner’s New York Times bestselling tribute to his longtime friend and Star Trek co-star, Leonard Nimoy. Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner first crossed paths as actors on the set of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Little did they know that their next roles, in a new science fiction television series, would shape their lives in ways no one could have anticipated. In seventy-nine television episodes and six feature films, they grew to know each other more than most friends could ever imagine. Over the course of half a century, Shatner and Nimoy saw each other through personal and professional highs and lows. In this powerfully emotional book, Shatner tells the story of a man who was his friend for five decades, recounting anecdotes and untold stories of their lives on and off set, as well as gathering stories from others who knew Nimoy well, to present a full picture of a rich life. As much a biography of Nimoy as a story of their friendship, Leonard is a uniquely heartfelt book written by one legendary actor in celebration of another.
Miss D and Me is a story of two powerful women, one at the end of her life and the other at the beginning. As Bette Davis aged she was looking for an assistant, but she found something more than that in Kathryn: a loyal and loving buddy, a co-conspirator in her jokes and schemes, and a competent assistant whom she trained never to miss a detail. But Miss D had strict rules for Kathryn about everything from how to eat a salad to how to wear her hair…even the spelling of Kathryn’s name was changed. The frame of this story is a four-day road trip Kathryn and Davis took from Biarritz to Paris, during which they disentangled their ferocious dependency. Miss D and Me is a window into the world of the unique and formidable Bette Davis, told by the person who perhaps knew her best of all.
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