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Content last modified December 2015
Lives of movie and television actors exert almost as much fascination as the films and shows they appear in. Fans want to know their favorites better and get a peek at the real life drama behind the scenes. Even though stars seem to live their lives in public, putting together a biography is not easy. In the old days the studios would use publicity to craft a public image for their players, an image frequently as much a work of fiction as any movie role. Biographers of more recent stars have the opposite problem: a glut of information to sort through and evaluate. It is up to the biographer to find the truth and shape the story of a life.
This minibibliography consists of biographies that were added to the NLS collection after 2001. The range stretches from early Hollywood stars Lillian Gish and Rudolph Valentino to current television names Teri Hatcher and Brooke Shields. The long careers of Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall, and Gregory Peck form a history of life at the top in Hollywood, while biographies of Hattie McDaniel, Lincoln Perry, and Sidney Poitier show their struggles and illustrate the less pleasant aspects of the movie industry. There are also books that cover the theater careers of Carol Channing, Tallulah Bankhead, and the Lunts.
Some prefer to tell their own story. Tab Hunter dropped out of Hollywood and many years later wrote about the difficulty of maintaining his false image as the boy next door. Others share inspirational experiences. Kirk Douglas wrote about his recovery from a stroke and Teri Garr explained that having multiple sclerosis doesn’t keep her from living her life and maintaining her career. Brooke Shields shared the details of her struggle with postpartum depression. Christopher Reeve wrote about the importance of not taking life for granted.
More titles can be found by searching the NLS catalog under the following subject headings:
Motion Picture Actors and Actresses
Never Have Your Dog Stuffed
by Alan Alda
Memoir of the M*A*S*H actor recalls his life onstage and off. Describes his bittersweet upbringing backstage by his burlesque actor father and mentally ill mother, major turning points in his career, and lessons he's learned along the way. Strong language and some descriptions of sex. Commercial audiobook. 2005.
Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself
by Alan Alda
In this follow-up to his memoir Never Have Your Dog Stuffed (DB 60651), in which he recounts how he nearly died in Chile, actor Alan Alda muses about what is really important and examines the turning points in his life. Narrated by the author. Commercial audiobook. 2007.
by James Arness
Autobiography of the actor best known for his TV series role in Gunsmoke. Describes his Minnesota childhood with his brother (future actor Peter Graves); his WWII tour of duty, which earned him a Purple Heart and Bronze Star; and his theatrical career. 2001.
By Myself and Then Some
by Lauren Bacall
Award-winning actress recaps her early years, Hollywood career, marriage to Humphrey Bogart, and widowhood first explored in Lauren Bacall by Myself (DB 13275). Summarizes the later part of her life including her marriage to Jason Robards and reminisces about lifelong friends and her work in the theater. Bestseller. 2005.
by Joel Lobenthal
Biography of Bankhead, based on author's twenty-five years of research through interviews with the actress's friends, enemies, lovers, and employees, and information from FBI and Scotland Yard files. Discusses the emotional, sexual, and intellectual dimensions of Bankhead, along with her fifty-year career on stage and screen. 2004.
by Patricia Bosworth
Portrait of the celebrity actor including revelations about his dysfunctional family, his acting lessons with Stella Adler, and highlights of his career. Describes Brando's destructive personal behavior. Provides insight into his political views and his major roles on stage and screen. Some descriptions of sex and some strong language. 2001.
Empire and Odyssey
by Rock Brynner
Actor Yul Brynner's son chronicles four generations of his family, beginning with his Swiss-born great-grandfather who cofounded the Russian port city of Vladivostok. Highlights events of each ancestor's life, including Brynner's Academy Award-winning father's path to the movie industry and his own stints as a clown, bodyguard, and writer. 2006.
by Richard Chamberlain
Stage and screen actor's autobiography centers on "the spiritual themes of God, love, and forgiveness." Addresses his childhood with an alcoholic parent, his sexual orientation, and his drift into acting during college. Discusses his 1960s breakout role as Dr. Kildare and professional relationships with other actors. Some strong language. 2003.
Just Lucky I Guess
by Carol Channing
Famous for her performances in Hello, Dolly! and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Channing recounts her charmed life on and off Broadway. Features an all-star cast of celebrities and politicians and includes revealing backstage gossip and anecdotes. She also discusses her family background and her bout with cancer. Some strong language. 2002.
by Gary Giddins
Chronicles the life and times of Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby--a Jesuit-educated Irish-American whose career coincided with the growth of the sound recording technology that fostered his extraordinary popularity. Examines Crosby's family history and work up to World War II. Includes discography and filmography. Some strong language. 2001.
The Girl Who Walked Home Alone
by Charlotte Chandler
Biography of cinema star Bette Davis (1908-1989) from Hollywood's Golden Age, based on interviews with Davis in the 1980s. Presents Davis's reminiscences of her personal and professional life that included four marriages and a rift with her daughter. Some strong language. 2006.
by John Baxter
Movie critic analyzes the various film roles of actor Robert De Niro, born in 1943. Describes his Greenwich Village childhood with a gay father and an artistic mother. Traces the artist's career from his 1976 breakout role in Taxi Driver to later business ventures. Some strong language. 2002.
My Stroke of Luck
by Kirk Douglas
Actor describes his recovery from a stroke, continuing his life story begun in Climbing the Mountain. Douglas reminisces about his family and friends and details his struggles to overcome obstacles, despite depression and despair. 2002.
Ask Me Again Tomorrow
by Olympia Dukakis
Academy Award-winning actress, director, and producer looks back on her life and decades-long career. Dukakis, a first generation Greek American born in 1931, discusses balancing two cultures and defying ethnic and gender bias to succeed, most notably in her breakout Moonstruck role, for which she won an Oscar in 1988. 2003.
by Richard Schickel
In-depth biography by a Time film critic based on interviews with his subject. Emphasizes the screen icon's professional achievements--culminating in an Oscar for directing Unforgiven--though Eastwood's relationships with his partners and children are also explored. Includes a filmography. Some strong language. 1996.
Just One More Thing
by Peter Falk
Autobiography of Emmy Award-winning stage and screen actor from the television show Columbo. Falk discusses his family life, his bout with eye cancer at age three, and the theater training and film experience that led to the role of the eccentric police detective. Some strong language. 2006.
by Mel Watkins
Biography of Lincoln Perry (1902-1985), Hollywood's first successful black movie star. Traces his career from minstrel shows to comic roles in talking pictures that made him a millionaire. Describes the post-World War II disapproval of Perry's characterizations of African Americans that ended his popularity. Strong language. 2005.
by Jeffrey Meyers
Dual biography of actor Errol Flynn (1909-1959) and his photojournalist son Sean (1941-1971). Contends that the conflicted younger Flynn both struggled against and emulated his infamous father's lifestyle; that the recklessness they shared led to Sean's death at twenty-nine as a journalist in Vietnam. Strong language. 2002.
My Life So Far
by Jane Fonda
Autobiography of Academy Award-winning actress who describes a childhood shaped by her father's acting fame and her mother's mental illness. Covers her film career, marriages, controversial political activism during the Vietnam War, and philanthropic work. Some descriptions of sex and some strong language. Bestseller. 2005.
Design for Living
by Margot Peters
Recounts the tempestuous lives of the famous acting team who captured the hearts of American theatergoers from 1919 to 1959. Peters details Lunt's and Fontanne's stage and film careers, their circle of friends and intriguing private life, and the professional and personal influences they had on each other. 2003.
by Michael J. Fox
Autobiography of actor who was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's disease in 1991. Reminisces about his Canadian childhood, his move to Los Angeles to begin his film career at eighteen, his alcoholism, and his family--as well as coping with his condition. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2002.
by Warren G. Harris
Life of "the king of Hollywood" Clark Gable (1901-1960) covering his family background, five marriages, numerous affairs, and children. Describes the actor's professional development--beginning in theater and vaudeville and continuing in the studio system as it existed in the early days of motion pictures. Some strong language. 2002.
by Lee Server
Biography of North Carolinian Ava Gardner (1922-1990). Highlights the actress's individuality despite the stifling studio system; her marriages to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and Frank Sinatra; and her lengthy film career. Includes filmography. Strong language. 2006.
by Teri Garr
Comic actress Teri Garr describes her youth in Hollywood and her ambition to become a movie star. Discusses a long career that began with dancing, her dedication to acting, and the 1983 diagnosis of multiple sclerosis that forced Teri to refocus her life and priorities. Some strong language. 2005.
by Charles Affron
Using letters, interviews, and the subject's unpublished autobiography, Affron offers a portrait of the public and private life of film actress Lillian Gish (1893-1993). Describes her evolution from child prodigy to silent screen star to her last performance in 1987 in The Whales of August. 2001.
by Marc Eliot
Highlights the thirty-four-year film career of one of Hollywood's mid-twentieth-century leading male actors. Traces Grant's (1904-1986) family life and sexual ambivalence, evaluates his career including a monumental break with the studio system, and describes lengthy psychotherapy that included LSD treatments. Some strong language. 2004.
by Piers Paul Read
Author traces the life of his friend, British actor Sir Alec Guinness (1914-2000), based on Guinness's diaries. Chronicles his unhappy childhood, long marriage, and conversion to Catholicism. Also discusses Sir Alec's stage and screen career, which began in 1933 with an acting scholarship. Strong language. 2003.
Burnt Toast and Other Philosophies of Life
by Teri Hatcher
Golden Globe-winning actress and star of television's Desperate Housewives shares her experience of coping at forty with being a single mother and television star. Describes her personal and professional ups and downs and overcoming low self-esteem to succeed. Strong language. Bestseller. 2006.
A Lotus Grows in the Mud
by Goldie Hawn
Memoir of movie and TV actress Goldie Hawn. Discusses her childhood in a Washington, D.C. suburb, her career start in New York, role on the 1960s comedy series Laugh-In, and subsequent film roles. Also reminisces about her private life and search for enlightenment. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2005.
Call Me Crazy
by Anne Heche
Memoir of thirty-one-year-old celebrity actress. Covers her abused childhood, therapy sessions, career, and success. Describes her lesbian affair with comedienne Ellen DeGeneres and her bout of insanity. Some descriptions of sex and some strong language. 2001.
by Sean Hepburn Ferrer
Recollections by the son of actors Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer. Sean Ferrer details his European childhood and provides intimate glimpses of his mother, her strengths, vulnerabilities, family history, later years, and final illness. Describes her devoted work for UNICEF that Ferrer himself continues. Bestseller. 2003.
by Donald Spoto
Biography of film star Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) details her childhood in Belgium, England, and Nazi-controlled Holland, her ballet training, and her 1951 breakout role in Broadway's Gigi. Traces her subsequent career in films, marriages to Mel Ferrer and Andrea Dotti, and later humanitarian work with UNICEF. Some strong language. 2006.
by A. Scott Berg
Berg's memoir of his twenty-year personal dialog with Academy Award-winning actress Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003). He recalls her reminiscences about her family, her acting career, and her relationship with Spencer Tracy, along with his own memories of his time spent with her. Bestseller. 2003.
by Edward McPherson
Biography of multitalented actor Buster Keaton (1895-1966). Traces Keaton's career from his start in vaudeville to his success in silent film, work in talking pictures, and rise as a television pioneer. Covers the period in the 1930s when Keaton's dismissal from MGM intensified his struggles with alcohol and depression. 2004.
by Alvin Yudkoff
Chronicles the personal life and career of Gene Kelly, beginning with his childhood as part of a family dance troupe in Pittsburgh. Follows his move to Broadway in the 1930s, his first marriage, and his transition to work in films in Hollywood, where he became a sought-after choreographer, actor, and director. 1999.
Once Upon a Time
by J. Randy Taraborrelli
Portrays the marriage of American movie star Grace Kelly to European Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Describes how the classic 1950s beauty left her career to become a full-time wife and mother and the difficulties she faced in both these commitments. 2003.
by Kate Buford
Commentator for National Public Radio chronicles Burt Lancaster's public and private life, beginning with his childhood in East Harlem. Describes his decision to forgo a college scholarship during the depression to take a job as a circus performer. Continues with his lucky break into films. Some strong language. 2000.
Carole Lombard, The Hoosier Tornado
by Wes D. Gehring
Biography of film star Carole Lombard (1908-1942) known as the queen of "screwball" comedies. Gehring relates Lombard's childhood years in Indiana and California, rise in the movie industry, and marriage to Clark Gable. Also describes her tragic death in a plane crash while returning home after a war-bond rally. Some strong language. 2003.
by Rob Edelman
Biography of actor Walter Matthau (1920-2000), who grew up poor and fatherless in New York during the Great Depression. The authors portray his "tongue-in-cheek" character and emphasize his successful career, including his starring roles in the films The Odd Couple (1968) and Grumpy Old Men (1993). 2002.
by Jill Watts
Uses primary documents to chronicle the life of African American actress Hattie McDaniel (1895-1952), who won an Oscar for her role in Gone with the Wind. Describes McDaniel's family, her early career, and the stereotyping and other controversial issues she faced. Some strong language. 2005.
by Lee Server
Biography of screen legend Robert Mitchum (1917-1997), who left his bohemian home at age fourteen to lead an unconventional life, which included stints as a boxer, laborer, vagabond, and jailbird. Chronicles his family saga, his long marriage to his teenage sweetheart, and his career in Hollywood. Strong language. 2001.
I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This
by Bob Newhart
Comedian intersperses his autobiography with anecdotes from his stand-up comedy routines. Newhart discusses growing up in Chicago, being drafted into the army in 1952, his first real job as an accountant, his marriage of forty-three years, and life on the road. Includes dirty little secrets about comedians. 2006.
Jack, the Great Seducer
by Edward Douglas
In this biography of Academy Award-winning movie star Jack Nicholson, Edwards calls Nicholson "the leading American actor of his time, with seventy-eight movies in forty-five years." Describes Nicholson's New Jersey childhood, film career, womanizing ways, and family secrets. Some descriptions of sex and some strong language. 2004.
Against All Odds
by Chuck Norris
Autobiography of international karate champion and star of television's "Walker, Texas Ranger." Norris (b. 1940) describes his Irish and Native American heritage, tumultuous childhood, military service in Korea, martial arts career, acting roles, charity work, faith, and family. 2004.
by Maureen O'Hara
Illustrious actress reminisces about her six-decade career during Hollywood's "golden age." O'Hara describes her radio and stage child-stardom in Ireland, arrival in California at eighteen, interactions with famous actors and directors, marriages, and retirement in the Virgin Islands. Some strong language. 2004.
A Paper Life
by Tatum O'Neal
Autobiography of the actress and former child star who, at age ten, in 1973, became the youngest Oscar winner ever. Describes her childhood of abuse and neglect, disastrous marriage to tennis star John McEnroe, and drug addiction and subsequent recovery. Strong language and some explicit descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 2004.
by Terry Coleman
Authorized biography uses personal archives of actor Sir Laurence Olivier (1907-1989) to chronicle Olivier's personal life and professional career. Highlights his rivalries within the National Theater of Great Britain, his film roles, and his marriages to the actresses Vivien Leigh and Joan Plowright. Strong language. 2005.
by Donald Spoto
Chronicles the life of renowned actor and director Laurence Olivier (1907-1989). Through interviews with the Shakespearean's friends and colleagues on two continents, biographer Spoto reconstructs Olivier's sixty-year career and documents his marriages, personal upheavals, and final illness. 1992.
by Gary Fishgall
Biography of actor and philanthropist Eldred Gregory Peck, born in 1916 in La Jolla, California. Traces his family life, matriculation at Berkeley, and relocation to New York City where he began his professional career. Concentrates on his films including his Academy Award-winning performance in To Kill a Mockingbird. 2002.
by Aram Goudsouzian
History professor chronicles the life and Hollywood career of Poitier, born 1927. Explores how Poitier, a leading black actor during the civil rights movement, struggled with racial politics, stereotyping, the paradox of his race, and intense insecurity. Describes his rags-to-riches success, romances, film credits, awards, and directing debut. 2004.
by Sidney Poitier
Autobiography of Academy Award-winning black actor Sidney Poitier (born 1927). The Miami-born son of Bahamian farmers, Poitier chronicles his childhood on the islands and move to New York City as a teenager. Describes his marriages and hard-fought journey overcoming racism and stereotypes to find success on stage and screen. 1980.
by Victoria Price
Biography of Renaissance man Vincent Price by his daughter. Traces the family history, Price's childhood in St. Louis, his time at Yale University, and his career in theater and later Hollywood. Discusses his "greylisting" during the McCarthy period and his passion for art, as well as his children and multiple marriages. 1999.
Nothing Is Impossible
by Christopher Reeve
Christopher Reeve, quadriplegic since an equestrian accident in 1995, contemplates what a successful life comprises. Offers his thoughts on parenting, religion, advocacy, faith, recovery, and keeping a sense of humor along with hope. 2002.
My Anecdotal Life: A Memoir
by Carl Reiner
In his "complete and official, abridged autobiography," Reiner follows his friends' advice to write down his funny stories. In his eighties, Reiner examines his life in the entertainment world, recalling work with people such as Mary Tyler Moore, Sid Caesar, Dinah Shore, and Zero Mostel. Strong language. 2003.
by James Spada
Well-known celebrity biographer profiles Academy Award-winning actress and "all-American girl" Julia Roberts. Drawing on interviews with friends, family, and colleagues, Spada portrays Roberts's troubled childhood in Georgia, whirlwind love life, and illustrious career starring in such films as Steel Magnolias, Pretty Woman, and Erin Brockovich. Some strong language. 2004.
Are You Hungry, Dear?
by Doris Roberts
Memoir by Emmy Award-winning actress who plays the matriarch on television's Everybody Loves Raymond sitcom. Describes her upbringing in the Bronx, show business success on both stage and screen, hit comedy series, passion for food, and weight loss efforts. Also includes some of her favorite recipes. Some strong language. 2003.
by Laurence Leamer
Chronicles Schwarzenegger's rise from immigrant athlete to action hero and governor of California. Describes the bodybuilding culture and Hollywood scene. Comments on Schwarzenegger's business acumen, relationships, and marriage to Kennedy family heiress Maria Shriver. 2005.
by Garry O'Connor
Examination of the life of noted British actor born in 1922, who prefers the stage to film and TV. In O'Connor's portrayal Scofield is intensely private and dedicated. The depth and range of roles in the actor's career include Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons and Shakespeare's King Lear. 2002.
by Ed Sikov
Biographer explores the quirky comic genius of Peter Sellers, famous for The Pink Panther films, Dr. Strangelove, and Lolita. Interviewing family, friends, and colleagues, Sikov reconstructs Sellers's bizarre showbiz childhood, his successful film career, four unsuccessful marriages, and the emotional isolation provoked by his struggle for identity. 2002.
by Jane Seymour
Autobiography of English actress born in 1951. Seymour shares seven lessons for making the most of life's changes and candidly discusses her own disappointments and triumphs--her divorces and marriages, her children, and her career. Also includes stories of others who grew from their experiences, as well as a preface by Christopher Reeve. 2003.
Down Came the Rain
by Brooke Shields
Actress recounts experiencing postpartum depression following the 2003 birth of her daughter, who was conceived after fertility treatments. Recalls her detachment and thoughts of suicide. Discusses her treatment and recovery with proper medication and therapy, and her newfound happiness as a mother. Lists resources. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2005.
Jimmy Stewart, Bomber Pilot
by Starr Smith
Former Eighth Air Force intelligence officer chronicles Academy Award-winning actor Jimmy Stewart's World War II service as squadron commander of a combat bombardment group. Recounts Stewart's volunteering for service before the United States entered the war and later leading his men across Nazi Germany. Foreword by Walter Cronkite. 2005.
by Christopher P. Andersen
Portrays Barbra Joan Streisand as the "Brooklyn goil-made-good." Andersen discusses Streisand's roles as singer, movie actress, director, producer, philanthropist, political activist, and iconic artist who has won nearly every major entertainment award. Some strong language. 2006.
by J. Randy Taraborrelli
Presents an account of the life of actress Elizabeth Taylor, born in 1932. Discusses her childhood, eight marriages, numerous films, illnesses and addictions, philanthropic work, and awards and honors. 2006.
by Emily Wortis Leider
Biography of Italian-born movie actor Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926), Hollywood's first romantic hero to specialize in portraying such "exotics" as Arab sheiks and Indian rajahs. Examines the mystique surrounding his personal life and career in films such as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which broadened American masculine ideals. 2003.
The Ohter Side of Ethel Mertz
by Frank Castelluccio
Biography of nightclub singer and stage actress who became famous for her role as Lucille Ball's sidekick on the I Love Lucy television series. Documents her personal life and extensive acting experience before her small-screen debut and her relationship with the well-known cast. Foreword by Robert Osborne. Some strong language. 1998.
The Good, the Bad, and Me
by Eli Wallach
Acclaimed Tony Award-winning actor of stage and screen recounts his childhood in Brooklyn, college days in Texas, long marriage, and varied career. Discusses his experiences with Method acting, the Actors Studio, directors, and fellow performers. Some strong language. 2005.
by Suzanne Finstad
Depicts the personal and professional life of film star Natalie Wood, the daughter of an unstable Russian stage mother. Describes the psychological pressures that shaped the child actress, her two marriages to Robert Wagner, and her successful career on screen until her untimely death in 1981. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2001.
by Gavin Lambert
Biography of movie actress Natalie Wood (1938-1981) by a screenwriter friend. Relying on accounts of her two husbands and others, Lambert portrays Wood's manipulative mother, childhood stardom, family secrets and lasting emotional trauma, film career struggles and successes, love affairs and marriages, and tragic drowning at forty-three. Some strong language. 2004.
Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams
by Donald Bogle
Author of Dorothy Dandridge (RC 46289) chronicles social roles of African American actors in the first half of the twentieth century. Outlines the migration of blacks to California and the lives of such movie stars as Lena Horne, Sammy Davis Jr., Hattie McDaniel, and Stepin Fetchit. Some strong language. 2005.
by Ray Hagen
Hollywood leading ladies of the 1930s-1950s identified by the authors as "hot tamales (who) weren't dependent on men to get where they wanted to go." Profiles Lucille Ball, Joan Blondell, Ida Lupino, Jane Russell, Ann Sheridan, Barbara Stanwyck, and others. Foreword by Jane Russell. Narrated by the author. 2004.
by Diana McLellan
Journalist McLellan reveals the lesbian and bisexual secrets of movie actresses such as Alla Nazimova, Marlene Dietrich, Tallulah Bankhead, and Greta Garbo. Describes the affect of their emotional lives on their professional work. Explores Garbo's obsession with privacy and her claim that she never met Dietrich. Some descriptions of sex. 2000.
The Golden Girls of MGM
by Jane Ellen Wayne
Collective biography of female film stars who worked for Louis B. Mayer's Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio. Concentrates on the love lives of the major actresses, and how they were held to a morals clause and needed Mayer's permission to wed. Some strong language. 2002.
The Leading Men of MGM
by Jane Ellen Wayne
In this companion to The Golden Girls of MGM (DB 56320), the author writes about legendary actors who were under contract to Louis B. Mayer's Hollywood studio. Reveals personal information regarding the affairs and vices of Clark Gable, Peter Lawford, Robert Taylor, and others. Includes filmographies. Strong language. 2004.
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Posted on 2016-11-04