The Academy Awards are this Sunday, March 2. We thought it would be a good time to post a few new biographies in the Biography section of the Library.
What if by Shirley MaClaine
Beloved actress and bestselling author Shirley MacLaine contemplates a host of intriguing topics from the everyday to the esoteric in this all-new collection of ideas and observations, each of which begins with two simple, powerful words: What if?
Taking this as her starting point, Shirley explores a wide range of matters—spiritual and secular, humorous and profound, earthbound and inter-galactic, personal and universal. From big questions about family, friendship, politics, war, and religion, her gaze lifts even higher. A famous trailblazer in making topics such as reincarnation and past-life therapy mainstream, Shirley now takes the lead in opening her mind to crucial questions about the existence of life on other planets, what that means for those of us on Earth, and about the true genetic ancestry of humankind. Along the way, she reflects on joining the talented cast of Downton Abbey, receiving the prestigious American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award, and introducing a new puppy into her formerly one-dog home.
From Shirley’s “What if” questions emerges a striking portrait of a constantly curious woman who thrills to new ideas and discoveries—all while enjoying one of the most extraordinary and enduring careers in Hollywood. As Shirley says, “I like to think that I’m open to exploring anything, always questioning, trying to live free of preconceptions and blind certainties.” What if . . . captures the one and only Shirley MacLaine at her witty, acerbic, imaginative, and irresistible best. (Hardcover overview).
Paul Newman by Eric Lax
Already a success on Broadway, in 1954 Newman began his film career – disastrously – as Basil the slave in “The Silver Chalice”. Yet before long he was considered not only a fine actor but also the sexiest man in films. Determined to control his career, he broke away from the studio system that dictated what roles he could take and, with astute choices of scripts and directors, established a screen presence that has remained both popular and respected. From “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “The Hustler” to “The Sting” and “Slap Shot”, and on to “The Colour of Money”, “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge” and “Nobody’s Fool”, Paul Newman has demonstrated his versatility as an actor. The films he has directed and that star Joanne Woodward, his wife of 38 years – such as “Rachel, Rachel” and “Harry and Son” – are concerned with ordinary people attempting to make sense of their lives. Besides his achievements on the stage and in cinema, Newman has won four national amateur race car titles, devoted himself to political activism and started Newman’s Own, the non profit gourmet food business that has so far given away nearly $70 million to worthy causes. Drawing on interviews with Newman and others who have worked with him, and with the help of over 100 photographs, this book looks at Newman’s life and reveals the man behind the screen image. (Hardcover overview).
Still Foolin Em by Billy Crystal
Hilarious and heartfelt observations on aging from one of America’s favorite comedians as he turns 65, and a look back at a remarkable career
Billy Crystal is turning 65, and he’s not happy about it. With his trademark wit and heart, he outlines the absurdities and challenges that come with growing old, from insomnia to memory loss to leaving dinners with half your meal on your shirt. In humorous chapters like “Buying the Plot” and “Nodding Off,” Crystal not only catalogues his physical gripes, but offers a road map to his 77 million fellow baby boomers who are arriving at this milestone age with him. He also looks back at the most powerful and memorable moments of his long and storied life, from entertaining his relatives as a kid in Long Beach, Long Island, his years doing stand-up in the Village, up through his legendary stint at Saturday Night Live, When Harry Met Sally, and his long run as host of the Academy Awards. Readers get a front-row seat to his one-day career with the New York Yankees (he was the first player to ever “test positive for Maalox”), his love affair with Sophia Loren, and his enduring friendships with several of his idols, including Mickey Mantle and Muhammad Ali. He lends a light touch to more serious topics like religion (“the aging friends I know have turned to the Holy Trinity: Advil, bourbon, and Prozac”), grandparenting, and, of course, dentistry. As wise and poignant as they are funny, Crystal’s reflections are an unforgettable look at an extraordinary life well lived. (Hardcover overview).
Maureen O’ Hara by Aubrey Malone
From her first appearances on the stage and screen, Maureen O’Hara (b. 1920) commanded attention with her striking beauty, radiant red hair, and impassioned portrayals of spirited heroines. Whether she was being rescued from the gallows by Charles Laughton (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1939), falling in love with Walter Pidgeon against a coal-blackened sky (How Green Was My Valley, 1941), learning to believe in miracles with Natalie Wood (Miracle on 34th Street, 1947), or matching wits with John Wayne (The Quiet Man, 1952), she charmed audiences with her powerful presence and easy confidence.
Maureen O’Hara is the first book-length biography of the screen legend hailed as the “Queen of Technicolor.” Following the star from her childhood in Dublin to the height of fame in Hollywood, film critic Aubrey Malone draws on new information from the Irish Film Institute, production notes from films, and details from historical film journals, newspapers, and fan magazines. Malone also examines the actress’s friendship with frequent costar John Wayne and her relationship with director John Ford, and he addresses the hotly debated question of whether the screen siren was a feminist or antifeminist figure.
Though she was an icon of cinema’s golden age, O’Hara’s penchant for privacy and habit of making public statements that contradicted her personal choices have made her an enigma. This breakthrough biography offers the first look at the woman behind the larger-than-life persona, sorting through the myths to present a balanced assessment of one of the greatest stars of the silver screen. (Hardcover overview).