Jump to content

 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Sign in to follow this  
Bogie56

Movie (Auto)Biographies

Recommended Posts

I've never read Ethel Merman's autobiography, but I think it's funny that the chapter tilted "My Marriage to Ernest Borgnine" is just a single blank page.

 

ethel-merman-and-ernest-borgnine.jpg

 

This may seem picky, but a "spoiler alert" might be appropriate here.  I read this very enjoyable book several years ago, and can still recall the delight upon turning the page to find the chapter on their marriage.  It was possibly the funniest thing I've ever encountered in a bio/autobio and it wouldn't have had nearly the effect if I knew what was coming beforehand.  Although I was already a Merman fan, this book, and especially this chapter made me love her all the more.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, just finished the Skal book about Claude Rains. Glad it was a library copy because it wasn't anything I care to read again. It appears to be a good thick book, but the last third is "lists" of his accomplishments.

 

I found the first half of the book interesting at least his family roots parts. He had a tough childhood which shaped his career path. He was intense and definitely a ladies man. I liked reading about that.

But I had to skim over ALL the accounts of his extensive theater work. It's not very interesting to read about things you cannot reference, the performances are gone forever.

 

So instead, I focused in on his film work. THIS part of the book was excellent. It included the passage about taking his daughter to the theater to see him in THE INVISIBLE MAN. This part of the book was too short, and often filled with others' observations, which as we all know may or may not be accurate, only their opinion.

 

I am often suspect of biographies written well after the person and all their contemporaries are gone.

That said, Shirley Temple's autobiography is very slanted, it's only how she remembers things as a child, several decades before the writing.

Guess any biography needs to be read with a grain of salt.

What I do,is read the autobiographies + biographies + take what I know ...and you can come up with a pretty accurate picture of things.

I find lots of little tidbits too just by chance,from reading other bios on stars,directors,producers ect...where they will mention something that I wasn't even looking for,and take note of it for future reference. That's about the best we can do I think.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks all for reminding me about Merman's autobiography. I had read that over 30 years ago and remember it as insightful & funny. Better try finding a new copy of it. Totally forgot she was married to Borgnine (guess she did too) but how could you forget her in MAD MAD WORLD? She was one of the principles.

 

I recall howling over her being turned upside down & seeing her girdle! THAT was a scream to a teen age girl. I liked girdles....now they're called "spanx" and are lycra tubes-not nearly as funny! Underwear used to be called "foundations".

 

I also remember reading about her typing (she started as a secretary) and thinking, "If I can't be the best Broadway singer...I'll be the LOUDEST". Her idea to create something different about her persona stuck with me and served me well in my career. No, I'm not the loudest, but I do have a "trademark" that others imitate now 20 years later. Thanks, Ethel.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Richard Attenborough's Entirely Up to You Darling is an easy fun read.   As you would expect from the lovely man it is full of pleasant stories about people he has worked with.  It's title is derived from Attenborough's habit of using that line in response to suggestions from his talent as to how to play a scene.  Sometimes it might be interpreted as 'yes, go for it' and at other times it was a polite way of saying 'all right, but I wouldn't."

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks all for reminding me about Merman's autobiography. I had read that over 30 years ago and remember it as insightful & funny. Better try finding a new copy of it. Totally forgot she was married to Borgnine (guess she did too) but how could you forget her in MAD MAD WORLD? She was one of the principles.

 

I recall howling over her being turned upside down & seeing her girdle! THAT was a scream to a teen age girl. I liked girdles....now they're called "spanx" and are lycra tubes-not nearly as funny! Underwear used to be called "foundations".

 

I also remember reading about her typing (she started as a secretary) and thinking, "If I can't be the best Broadway singer...I'll be the LOUDEST". Her idea to create something different about her persona stuck with me and served me well in my career. No, I'm not the loudest, but I do have a "trademark" that others imitate now 20 years later. Thanks, Ethel.

 

I loved Ethel Merman on the episode of THE LUCY SHOW called "Ethel Merman and the Boy Scout Show."

It always cracks me up that the Cub Scouts (Lucy's son Jerry is a member of the Danfield troop) are clamoring for Ethel Merman of all people to sing at their charity show.

THE LUCY SHOW is another one of my favorite Nick At Nite shows.

I have all 6 seasons on DVD.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I loved Ethel Merman on the episode of THE LUCY SHOW called "Ethel Merman and the Boy Scout Show."

It always cracks me up that the Cub Scouts (Lucy's son Jerry is a member of the Danfield troop) are clamoring for Ethel Merman of all people to sing at their chaity show.

THE LUCY SHOW is another one of my favorite Nick At Nite shows.

I have all 6 seasons on DVD.

I really like The Lucy Show too.  I haven't seen all the episodes either.  I remember it being on Nick at Nite for a fleeting moment and then it disappeared-- I think it may have moved to TVLand back when it was new and didn't suck like it does now.  I really liked the episode where she showed Jack Benny the crazy vault that the bank designed to store his money.  I also liked the one where she and Viv tried to install a shower and end up getting trapped while the shower is filling because Lucy installed the drain wrong and Viv put the shower door on backward. 

 

I have seasons 1,2,4,5.  I don't know why I don't have season 3 or 6.  I should get on that. 

 

Holden, I think you and I might have the same "TV on DVD" library.  Lol. I miss Nick at Nite (I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who was watching it every night.  I remember I was watching the Lucy block that aired on Saturday nights when news broke that Princess Diana had died). Nick at Nite was a good way to spend an evening back in the day.  I'm bringing back Nick at Nite's Block Party Summer starting next week.  I have enough TV on DVD to support this cause.

 

When I first started watching Nick at Nite in the mid-90s, I loved the retro graphics and jingles they used to have for the channel.  It was so much fun.  Then they scrapped the cool graphics and started adding more contemporary shows and booting all the good shows over to TVLand.  Then TVLand went down the tubes.  Now Nick at Nite is a former shadow of itself and is lame. 

 

So TV on DVD it is.

 

hqdefault.jpg

 

::Sigh:: I miss you Nick at Nite! :'(

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really like The Lucy Show too.  I haven't seen all the episodes either.  I remember it being on Nick at Nite for a fleeting moment and then it disappeared-- I think it may have moved to TVLand back when it was new and didn't suck like it does now.  I really liked the episode where she showed Jack Benny the crazy vault that the bank designed to store his money.  I also liked the one where she and Viv tried to install a shower and end up getting trapped while the shower is filling because Lucy installed the drain wrong and Viv put the shower door on backward. 

 

I have seasons 1,2,4,5.  I don't know why I don't have season 3 or 6.  I should get on that. 

 

Holden, I think you and I might have the same "TV on DVD" library.  Lol. I miss Nick at Nite (I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who was watching it every night.  I remember I was watching the Lucy block that aired on Saturday nights when news broke that Princess Diana had died). Nick at Nite was a good way to spend an evening back in the day.  I'm bringing back Nick at Nite's Block Party Summer starting next week.  I have enough TV on DVD to support this cause.

 

When I first started watching Nick at Nite in the mid-90s, I loved the retro graphics and jingles they used to have for the channel.  It was so much fun.  Then they scrapped the cool graphics and started adding more contemporary shows and booting all the good shows over to TVLand.  Then TVLand went down the tubes.  Now Nick at Nite is a former shadow of itself and is lame. 

 

So TV on DVD it is.

 

hqdefault.jpg

 

::Sigh:: I miss you Nick at Nite! :'(

 

Yes, I miss Nick At Nite and the old TVLand very much as well.

I think you're right about THE LUCY SHOW eventually moving to TVLand.

 

Lucille Ball almost drowned during the filming of  the "Lucy and Viv Put in A Shower" episode.

Vivian Vance saved her life. Lucy went to the bottom of the shower and wasn't able to get back to the top.

Vivian realized something was wrong, pulled Lucy up by her hair and then ad-libbed until Lucy was able to catch her breath and resume the scripted dialogue. All this was left in the episode.

 

PS. I remember my mother coming into my room to tell me about Princess Diana's death.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can't remember if anyone mentioned Candace Bergen's Knock Wood or Joan Collins' Past Imperfect.

 

Louise Brooks' Lulu in Hollywood is a must. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I miss Nick At Nite and the old TVLand very much as well.

I think you're right about THE LUCY SHOW eventually moving to TVLand.

 

Lucille Ball almost drowned during the filming of  the "Lucy and Viv Put in A Shower" episode.

Vivian Vance saved her life. Lucy went to the bottom of the shower and wasn't able to get back to the top.

Vivian realized something was wrong, pulled Lucy up by her hair and then ad-libbed until Lucy was able to catch her breath and resume the scripted dialogue. All this was left in the episode.

 

PS. I remember my mother coming into my room to tell me about Princess Diana's death.

 

My mom came into the room I was in to tell me about Princess Diana too.  When I used to watch Nick at Nite, my family had two TVs-- the "big TV" which was a 27" tube TV and then we had an 18" (or something like that) old black and white TV that even had VHF and UHF dials on it.  I was always banished to the black and white TV at the back of the house because "[my] shows are all in black and white anyway" my dad would say.  For a years I had to watch non black and white shows like I Dream of Jeannie and The Brady Bunch on black and white until my parents later got my sister and I a 20" color tube TV that was specifically for SNES--my dad got tired of the SNES hogging the big TV.  Finally! I got to watch TV on a bigger screen and watch the color shows in color-- unless my sister wanted to play SNES, then it was banishment to the back of the house again to watch on the black and white TV.  Lol.  Talk about first world problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My mom came into the room I was in to tell me about Princess Diana too.  When I used to watch Nick at Nite, my family had two TVs-- the "big TV" which was a 27" tube TV and then we had an 18" (or something like that) old black and white TV that even had VHF and UHF dials on it.  I was always banished to the black and white TV at the back of the house because "[my] shows are all in black and white anyway" my dad would say.  For a years I had to watch non black and white shows like I Dream of Jeannie and The Brady Bunch on black and white until my parents later got my sister and I a 20" color tube TV that was specifically for SNES--my dad got tired of the SNES hogging the big TV.  Finally! I got to watch TV on a bigger screen and watch the color shows in color-- unless my sister wanted to play SNES, then it was banishment to the back of the house again to watch on the black and white TV.  Lol.  Talk about first world problems.

 

Hehe, yes, first world problems indeed.

I'm feeling bad now because I had a TV in my bedroom.

Whenever I hear SNES I always think about Yoshi.

 

snes-yoshis-safari-box-front.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hehe, yes, first world problems indeed.

I'm feeling bad now because I had a TV in my bedroom.

Whenever I hear SNES I always think about Yoshi.

 

snes-yoshis-safari-box-front.jpg

Lol.  Don't feel bad for me.  I eventually got a TV in my room toward the very tail end of my Nick at Nite watching years.  I think I was able to watch Nick at Nite for like a year in my bedroom and then it went down the tubes.

 

I don't think I ever played Yoshi's Safari.  I had Yoshi's Island. 

 

This was my favorite game:

 

250px-Supermariokart_box.JPG

 

One of the few video games I've ever beat. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well apparently, "vintage TV" channels cycle-first it was Nick At Night, then TVLAND, and now it's ME-TV. I really, really hope it continues. I love settling in with popcorn for Star Trek then Svengoolie every week. This past week it was BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.

 

Inneresting you two hipsters started out watching old 60's TV episodes which directly led you to classic movies. Although I saw them all "first run", I never tired of classic TV and it was my first introduction to real movie stars. I had never heard of William Holden as a 10 year old. When first seeing him in SUNSET BLVD years later, I thought, "THAT'S the guy Lucy looked over the booth at!"

 

And yeah, Diana was the same age as me. I was disraught at the news, but finally went to bed thinking she'd be ok in the morning. I heard "oh no, she died" said by my bf still watching in the other room. I couldn't sleep after that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a dvd documentary of Brando - narrated by Marlon himself.

 

Charting his exceptional career as an actor as well as his life away from the stage and screen, this documentary explores the complexities of the man by telling the story uniquely from Brando's perspective, entirely in his own voice.

 

Someone apparently called it "a masterpiece"

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4145178/reference

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got Ernest Borgnine's autobiography at a book signing so the signing part and meeting Mr. Borgnine and having my picture taken with him was really the highlight.

 

I Don't Want to set the World on Fire, I Just Want to Keep My Nuts Warm is the full title of the book.

His industry recollections are done in a journal format where he responds to a title with a few anecdotes.  It is an amusing light quick read.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got Ernest Borgnine's autobiography at a book signing so the signing part and meeting Mr. Borgnine and having my picture taken with him was really the highlight.

 

I Don't Want to set the World on Fire, I Just Want to Keep My Nuts Warm is the full title of the book.

His industry recollections are done in a journal format where he responds to a title with a few anecdotes.  It is an amusing light quick read.

 

Does Ernest Borgnine discuss his marriage to Ethel Merman in his book?

I presume he doesn't do the blank page thing like she did.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does Ernest Borgnine discuss his marriage to Ethel Merman in his book?

I presume he doesn't do the blank page thing like she did.

Yes he does.  I think you have already mentioned the story practically word-for-word.

On their honeymoon she got really ticked off that people recognized him and not her.  And that was it.  Marriage over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes he does.  I think you have already mentioned the story practically word-for-word.

On their honeymoon she got really ticked off that people recognized him and not her.  And that was it.  Marriage over.

 

Does Ernest Borgnine offer any incite in his book as to what drew him and Ethel Merman together to the point that they actually married?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does Ernest Borgnine offer any incite in his book as to what drew him and Ethel Merman together to the point hat they actually married?

Yes.  I'm paraphrasing from the Borgnine autobiography.

Spring of 1964 after a season of McHale's Navy he met her at a party.  He had heard of her before.  Someone asked her to get up and sing.   Afterward they spoke for a few hours.

I guess it was instant infatuation and they were married not long after.

Then he jumps right to the disastrous honeymoon.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't remember who said it--whether Robert Osborne or someone he was interviewing--but the comment was made that some of the most interesting information on Hollywood is in the autobiographies of the less well known stars.  

 

Mentioned in that conversation was the autobiography of Evelyn Keyes from 1977, Scarlet O'Hara's Younger Sister, covering her early years and marriages/relationships.  After reading this book, I found her descriptions of Hollywood royalty in her social sphere--given her film career, marriage to John Huston and relationship with Mike Todd--to be detailed and entertaining.  Her lengthy relationship with Artie Shaw was also very revealing, and she doesn't gloss over the unflattering aspects of Hollywood in the 1940's and 1950's.  

 

Her second book, I'll Think About That Tomorrow in 1991, is less focused on Hollywood given her career shift to stage/television and writing, but she maintained some of her industry contacts.  Neither book is a heavyweight, so to speak, but both were good reads that I bought cheaply online, as my library did not have them.

 

Mary Astor's two autobiographies--one describing her personal life but without much detail as to her work on individual films and a second describing only her work in Hollywood and films with little mention of her personal struggles--were OK.  In the first book, she rarely gave the year she was talking about, making it difficult to correlate her personal experiences with whatever film work she may have been engaged in at the time.  I would have enjoyed one book covering both her personal and her professional life.  The two books may be worth looking up in a local library.  Just my two cents. :)  

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I own a copy of Every Frenchman Has One by Olivia de Havilland.     The book was released in 1961 and is mostly about her living in France since 1953.   Easy read and charming but her experiences related to movies is rarely mentioned since the book is mostly about the differences between cultures. 

 

I was happy to find the hardcover book at a used book selling charity event 20 or so years ago.   Oh, and what every Frenchman has is a liver. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a hardbacked copy of "Marlene Dietrich's ABC", which I got at a yardsale for 10 cents.  It  is in dictionary form (alphabetically) terms and her opinions of them: 3 gems from P:

 

Pouting--I hate it, but men fall for it, so go on and pout.

 

Press Clippings (Your Own)--Only fools keep them.

 

Puritans--"The Puritans nobly fled from a land of despotism to a land of freedom, where they could not only enjoy their own religion, but prevent everyone else from enjoying HIS"  She then credits "Charles F. Browne".

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes classicsuz, both of Mary Astor's books are available from my local library-but then again, my local college has a very famous acting school. I really enjoyed her writing style.

 

As I've mentioned before....there are many books out there on movie stars that are really poorly written, but are decent sellers only because of the star power of the subject. Many are personal anecdotes, ie "When I saw her on the screen, I was mesmerized" while many are picture books of simple listings of all their movies - ugh - I can see that for myself!

 

Classic Images magazine has THE VERY BEST book reviewer ever, "Book Points" by Laura Wagner. She's well informed & tells it like it is, pulling no punches. I enjoy hearing this kind of review, it helps me decide whether to make an investment buying it, or just borrowing it from the library.

 

For example "House of Noir: Dark Visions From 13 Film Studios" she says, "Let's start first with "meticulous plot outlines" since his entries are basically just that: long agonizing plot retellings, containing spoilers. This would be boring anyway, but here made even worse by Schwartz's inability to distinguish between useless and interesting points.

His writing is disjointed, making the stories of these classic films sound illogical and downright surreal. I just shook my head over passages like this one from THE GANGSTER...."

 

And she goes on to quote the book illustrating you how poor the writing is. Realize many books these days are written by "fans" rather than trained writers-a point that makes a huge difference in your comprehension & enjoyment of a book.

 

When she lauds a book, I know it'll be entertaining and worthwhile. Wish ALL book reviewers were this candid.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With Mourning Becomes Electra showing today, I was reminded of Kirk Douglas' autobiography "A Ragman's Son" published in 1988.  He said in an interview that it was an angry book, and I would agree with him on that.  But it is very interesting in terms of his relationship with his father, in particular, and his struggle to become an actor and the filmmaking process.  It is a fairly lengthy book, and he apparently was forced to delete any number of topics he had written about to keep the book to a size that the average person could lift absent a crane. No comment in the book on the Electra film, perhaps for that reason.  The hardcover clocks in at precisely 497 pages before the index.  I would have enjoyed some inside information on the making of that film, as there is something about it that bothers me--can't say if it's the dialogue, the acting (and if so, whose acting), the casting or what.  But Douglas' book is a good read.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

classicsuz--1st, thanks for the recommendation.   2nd, there are three things that bug me about Mourning Becomes Electra (MBE) (1947).  1st is the talkiness.  2nd. is it seems Southern Gothic has been transplanted to New England.  3rd is the ending--all I'll say is, if anyone thinks Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) is overdone, see MBE before you complain again.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Say, film lover 293, is MBE a candidate for the "I'd rather stick needles in my eyes than watch this one" thread?  I feel a bit sorry for Kirk--or "Peetah" as he's referred to by Mr. Redgrave and Ms. Russell throughout--getting stuck in this film relatively early in his long career.  I can't help but think it would be tough to recover an early foothold in Hollywood after being involved in this one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

© 2019 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
×
×
  • Create New...