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I want to raid your book shelves!

 

As an avid reader, I am forever looking for new titles to add to my book library.

I would be interested in any recommendations you have on books regarding golden age of Hollywood (actor and actresses autobiographies, biographies, memoirs, directors, production, behind the scenes, studio system, interviews, you name it...).

 

Any book you particularly liked and why? Likewise, any book you bought and, having read it, thought "...gee, that was a waste of money.." (books with lots of incorrect info, rehash of other books, and similar).

 

Thanks in advance and I'm looking forward to hearing about your favorites. :)

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I have enjoyed many books, to name a few I recall fondly Mick LaSalle's "Complicated Women", Mark Vieira's "Sin in Soft Focus", John Kobal's "People Will Talk", "From Scarface to Scarlett", about films of the 1930s, Ram?n Novarro's biography by Andr? Soares; Both biographies of Thalberg and Selznick by Bob Thomas; "Merchant of Dreams" a biography of Louis B. Mayer; Scott A. Berg's biography of Samuel Goldwyn; and John Oller's biography of Jean Arthur. I'll try to check more at home. Hope this helps.

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normandie7,

 

I've posted my recommendations on this forum before but, I'll do it again:

 

I have a particular fondness for the two David Niven memoirs--"The Moon's A Balloon" (1971) and "Bring On the Empty Horses" (1975).

 

If you like David Niven's screen persona, I bet you will be entertained by his books.

 

Rusty

 

BTW: I apologize for my first sentence. I have a lot of 'hutspa'!

I know no reader (of course, except me) remembers what I have posted past times.

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My FAVORITE autobiography written by any classic film star, is a no-contest question:

 

"My Wicked, Wicked Ways - the Autobiography of Errol Flynn".

 

Most. Hilarious. Book. Ever.

 

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING was sacred to that guy (including his own films and performances)! And you can't help but love him for it.

 

If he thought it - he wrote it down. And damn the torpedos!!! *lol*

 

Picture the guts of Geoffrey Thorpe combined with the brazen, yet humorous and incredibly attractive style of Robin Hood.

 

That is the best I can do to approximate the style in which this book was written.

 

Worth it for his description of his interactions with Bette Davis during the filming of "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" alone!

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Women In Film by Jeanine Basinger--GREAT book about women's roles in classic film. Basinger has an almost conversational style that makes her book an engrossing read. I found lots of good movies to watch from reading her book, too!

 

My favorite star autobiographies are: Life's a Banquet by Rosalind Russell, Being and Becoming by Myrna Loy, It Wasn't All Velvet by Mel Torme, Me by Katharine Hepburn. All very entertaining and easy to read.

 

People Will Talk by John Kobal is wonderful--interviews with several stars, directors, and others in the film industry. It is out-of-print, but I found my copy at the Strand bookstore in NYC for 5 bucks. I've seen used copies on Amazon, as well, for reasonable prices.

 

I just read Dean and Me by Jerry Lewis and found it very funny and moving. I read it in one sitting-it was that good.

 

As for books that I WOULDN'T recommend--don't ever read Harlow! I can't remember the author's name but it was TERRIBLE!!!He writes about conversations that he could not have been privy to, and it is a piece of schlock. Also, I find the Hollywood Babylon books to be full of rumors and unsubstantiated info. They are slimy.

 

However, the David Stenn bio of Jean Harlow was very good, also his bio of Clara Bow.

 

Sandy K

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Oh, boy. This is a topic I enjoy. Just read "Tab: Confidential," by Tab Hunter and believe it or not, it's one of the best memoirs of a star I've read since "Swanson on Swanson" by Gloria Swanson.Tab remembers it all without being cheap and daring. He remembers his numerous friends and lovers with dignity and pathos, especially James Dean and Natalie Wood. Another book, "The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson" is also well done. IT's about the agent who created all the male idols of the fifties--like Tab, Troy Donahue, Rory Calhoun, etc. The agent is a slime ball but the author doesn't dwell on what went on behind the closed doors. One of the worst memoirs I've read this year has to be the Howard Keel memoir, "It's Only Make Believe." It's as if Keel is sitting at a bar and boring you with all of his sexual conquests. He barely mentions some of his co-stars like Betty Hutton ("She was a nice little thing,") and he drags out his love affair with Kathryn Grayson. Every paragraph or two he says, "God, she was beautiful." He skims over all of those great MGM musicals he made with zero details. A book to be avoided unless you want to see just how bad a memoir can be.

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Other books I've read lately and really enjoyed:

 

 

"Clark Gable: A Biography", by Warren G. Harris

 

"By Myself and Then Some", by Lauren Bacall

(although reading about the ordeal of Bogie's illness and death is just heartbreaking)

 

"Garbo", by Barry Paris

 

I just received the new Bette Davis biography from Amazon the other day. Haven't had a chance to read it yet though....

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Wow, this is great. I've just skimmed through the posts, will read in detail this weekend.

Keep them coming all, much appreciated.

 

Pktrekgirl do yo mean "The Girl Who Walked Home Alone" by Charlotte Chandler?

I've got that book on my wish list, I would be interested in your review once you've read it.

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Yep...that's the book.

 

I received it in the mail earlier this week - I'd pre-ordered it.

 

The most I can say so far is that the cover is very nice. *lol*

 

But I'll try and remember to write more about it once I read it.

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I recommend "Mr. S" written by Sinatra's vallet, lots of good juicy stuff there. Jerry Lewis's "Dean & Me" as Sandy says, great reading. "Memories are Made of This" by Dean Martin's daughter, Deanna. "Backstage at the Dean Martin Show" lots of behind the scenes with actors from back in the day. Robert Mitchum's biography "Baby, I Don't Care" ... hilarious anecdotes. "Name Dropping" by Barnaby Conrad, about all the Golden Age stars and then some, that frequented his nightclub in San Francisco. "The Stork Club" pretty much the same idea. "The Times We Had" Marion Davies' bio.

 

I'm just about to start Sterling Hayden's autobio next. Will let you know ...

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A good book to read is "The Dame in the Kimono". It is about Hollywood, cencorship and the production code. It goes into who is who and who did what with the Hays code, all the way up to the rating system we use now. Its a good book to read for info on that subject, I read it in my cinema class and got lots of information out of it. Its authors are Leonard J. Leff and Jerold L. Simmons.

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I forgot to mention this book that dispells that whole "red scare" Hollywood myth, Ronald Radosh's "Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony?s Long Romance with the Left." It reveals all the essays, diaries and journals, of the accused commies admitting their roles in selling out their country ... including Dalton Trumbo's admitting his role in all of this.

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I've gotten some good suggestions here, too!

 

Paty, good to see you posting! I will definitely check out the Tab Hunter book! Sounds fun! AND thanks for recommending Swanson on Swanson--I read that based on your recommendation a couple of years ago, and it is fantastic.

 

Matt, after reading Jerry Lewis' book, I am on a Dino kick and I will check out Deana's tribute to her dad.

 

I just got A Cast of Killers from the library today, which is about the William Desmond Taylor murder as solved by director King Vidor. Can't wait to start reading it!

 

Sandy K

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Sandy, I think you get a great picture of Dino if you read Jerry's and his daughter's books, followed by the Backstage book. The guy who wrote that was the music director and stand-in for Dino during rehearsals (Dino never rehearsed, just showed up on the day they shot the show). He presents a good look at what Dino's life was like during that time that neither Jerry nor his daughter could, since they weren't around the set. Plus, great anecdotes on the guests and how petty a lot of the celebrities were.

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So many excellent suggestions, looks like I'll have to add another shelf to my library, LOL!

 

Some of the titles mentioned here are already familliar to me, Gloria Swanson autobiography, Marion Davies, Robert Mitchum...

I will be looking for some of the titles suggested, David Niven, Errol Flynn, Tab Hunter..

I have been looking for "Life is a Banquet" for a long time without success. "Bombshell" is also out of print and hard to come by.

 

Has anyone read "I Can't Wait To Be Forgotten", a biography of Kay Francis? I've heard good things about it.

 

Currently I'm reading "Confessions of an Actor: The Autobiography", by Laurence Olivier.

What an actor! Watching him act is such a joy for me, every time is like a new discovery, no matter how many times I've seen his movies.

 

Another book I'd recommend is "Dark City Dames: The Wicked Women of Film Noir" by Eddie Muller (another one out of print, it seems).

 

For all the Joan Crawford fans (I'm one of them), I'm aware of the new book coming out soon:

"Joan Crawford: Hollywood Martyr" by David Bret.

 

Keep your recommendations coming in!

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"Memo," by David O. Selznick. It's a fascinating look at a producer at the top of his game - and his later fall from grace. From his purchasing and producing "Gone With the Wind," "Rebecca," and other great movies. A big, thick book but an easy read - always interesting.

 

I also enjoyed "Swanson by Swanson." But you have to be careful; many of these books were not written by the stars at all.

 

Ralph

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Normandie, eBay owns Half.com but it's not the same as eBay, you don't use paypal on there. You just pay the same way you would on any other site. However, most of the shipping costs are for media mail, and I don't know how that works out for those living outside this country.

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pktrekgirl,

Quote:

"My FAVORITE autobiography written by any classic film star, is a no-contest question:

"My Wicked, Wicked Ways - the Autobiography of Errol Flynn".

Most. Hilarious. Book. Ever."

 

Thanks for the recommendation (and the reminder). For a long time, I have been wanting to find and read Errol Flynn's autobiography.

 

Errol Flynn--the more I watch his movies the more I like him. The rapscallion.

 

Rusty

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"The Parade's Gone By" by Kevin Brownlow

"The Men Who Made the Movies" by Richard Schickel

"Mr Griffith, the Movies and Me" by Lillian Gish

Ron Haver's book on the reconstruction and restoration of "Star is Born"

"Be Happy" by Gerald Clarke

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