In this Book

Lew Ayres
summary

Lew Ayres (1908-1996) became known to the public when he portrayed the leading character in the epic war film All Quiet on the Western Front. The role made him a household name, introduced him to his closest friends, brought him to the attention of his first two wives, and would overshadow the rest of his career. To be a movie star was his first and only ambition as a child, but once he found success, he was never fully satisfied in his choice of profession. Although lacking a formal education, Ayres spent the rest of his life pursuing dozens of intellectual studies, interests, and hobbies. He even considered ended his acting career after just a few years to pursue a more "respectable and fulfilling" path as a director.


Ayres was given not one but two comeback opportunities in his acting career, in 1938 and 1945. He was cast in the film series Dr. Kildare where he showed his abilities in comedy and his unique strength at bringing a level of sincerity to even the most outlandish or idealist character. But he was willing to give up his star status in order to follow his moral compass, first as a conscientious objector and ultimately as a noncombat medic during World War II. To everyone's surprise, he was welcomed back to Hollywood with open arms and new opportunities despite his objector status.


Biographer Lesley L. Coffin presents the story of a man of quiet dignity, constantly searching for the right way to live his life and torn between the public world of Hollywood and secluded life of spiritual introspection.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Front Matter
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Prologue
  2. p. ix
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  1. Foreword
  2. pp. xi-xiv
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  1. Preface and Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xv-xix
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  1. CHAPTER 1. Grandma’s Boy
  2. pp. 3-7
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  1. CHAPTER 2. Young Musician in Search of a Movie
  2. pp. 8-16
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  1. CHAPTER 3. The Kind of Role that Casts a Shadow
  2. pp. 17-24
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  1. CHAPTER 4. A New Kind of Star
  2. pp. 25-42
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  1. CHAPTER 5. Romantic Comedy
  2. pp. 43-52
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  1. CHAPTER 6. At the Helm
  2. pp. 53-58
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  1. CHAPTER 7. A Short Stay on Poverty Row
  2. pp. 59-65
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  1. CHAPTER 8. “The Comeback King of 1938”
  2. pp. 66-71
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  1. CHAPTER 9. Introducing Dr. Kildare
  2. pp. 72-83
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  1. CHAPTER 10. A Doctor, A Comic
  2. pp. 84-89
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  1. CHAPTER 11. Echoes of War
  2. pp. 90-96
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  1. CHAPTER 12. Lew Ayres, Conscientious Objector
  2. pp. 97-101
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  1. CHAPTER 13. A Camp in Oregon
  2. pp. 102-104
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  1. CHAPTER 14. “Like a Bomb Was Dropped”
  2. pp. 105-115
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  1. CHAPTER 15. Public Debate
  2. pp. 116-119
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  1. CHAPTER 16. Basic Training
  2. pp. 120-123
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  1. CHAPTER 17. In Search of Something
  2. pp. 124-133
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  1. CHAPTER 18. A Hero Returns to Hollywood
  2. pp. 134-139
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  1. CHAPTER 19. The Comeback of 1946
  2. pp. 140-145
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  1. CHAPTER 20. Awards and Affairs
  2. pp. 146-150
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  1. CHAPTER 21. The Return of Dr. Kildare
  2. pp. 151-154
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  1. CHAPTER 22. Magnificent Obsession
  2. pp. 155-159
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  1. CHAPTER 23. A Man of Honor and Faith
  2. pp. 160-164
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  1. CHAPTER 24. The Older Gentleman
  2. pp. 165-168
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  1. CHAPTER 25. Altars of the World
  2. pp. 169-174
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  1. CHAPTER 26. As Time Goes By
  2. pp. 175-180
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  1. CHAPTER 27. Reaching for the Butterfly
  2. pp. 181-185
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  1. Appendix
  2. pp. 186-193
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 194-213
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  1. Filmography
  2. pp. 214-235
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  1. Selected Bibliography
  2. p. 236
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 237-243
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