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Claude Rains

An Actor's Voice

David J. Skal and Jessica Rains

Late in Claude Rains’s distinguished career, a reverent film journalist wrote that Rains “was as much a cinematic institution as the medium itself.” Given his childhood speech impediments and his origins in a destitute London neighborhood, the ascent of Claude Rains (1889–1967) to the stage and screen is remarkable. Rains’s difficulties in his formative years provided reserves of gravitas and sensitivity, from which he drew inspiration for acclaimed performances in The Invisible Man (1933), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Casablanca (1942), Notorious (1946), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and other classic films. In Claude Rains: An Actor’s Voice, noted Hollywood historian David J. Skal draws on more than thirty hours of newly released Rains interviews to create the first full-length biography of the actor who was nominated multiple times for an Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. Skal’s portrait of the gifted actor also benefits from the insights of Jessica Rains, who provides firsthand accounts of the enigmatic man behind her father’s refined screen presence and genteel public persona. As Skal shows, numerous contradictions informed the life and career of Claude Rains. He possessed an air of nobility and became an emblem of sophistication, but he never shed the insecurities that traced back to his upbringing in an abusive and poverty-stricken family. Though deeply self-conscious about his short stature, Rains drew notorious ardor from female fans and was married six times. His public displays of dry wit and good humor masked inner demons that drove Rains to alcoholism and its devastating consequences. Skal’s layered depiction of Claude Rains reveals a complex, almost inscrutable man whose nuanced characterizations were, in no small way, based on the more shadowy parts of his psyche. With unprecedented access to episodes from Rains’s private life, Skal tells the full story of the consummate character actor of his generation. Claude Rains: An Actor’s Voice, gives voice to the struggles and innermost concerns that influenced Rains’s performances and helped him become a universally respected Hollywood legend.

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Claudette Colbert

She Walked in Beauty

Claudette Colbert's mixture of beauty, sophistication, wit, and vivacity quickly made her one of the film industry's most famous and highest-paid stars of the 1930s and 1940s. Though she began her career on the New York stage, she was beloved for her roles in such films as Preston Sturges's The Palm Beach Story, Cecil B. DeMille's Cleopatra, and Frank Capra's It Happened One Night, for which she won an Academy Award. She showed remarkable prescience by becoming one of the first Hollywood stars to embrace television, and she also returned to Broadway in her later career. This is the first major biography of Colbert (1903-1996) published in over twenty years. Bernard F. Dick chronicles Colbert's long career, but also explores her early life in Paris and New York. Along with discussing how she left her mark on Broadway, Hollywood, radio, and television, the book explores Colbert's lifelong interests in painting, fashion design, and commercial art. Using correspondence, interviews, periodicals, film archives, and other research materials, the biography reveals a smart, talented actress who conquered Hollywood and remains one of America's most captivating screen icons. Bernard F. Dick is professor of communication and English at Fairleigh Dickinson University and is the author of Hal Wallis: Producer to the Stars; Engulfed: The Death of Paramount Pictures and the Birth of Corporate Hollywood; Forever Mame: The Life of Rosalind Russell (University Press of Mississippi); and other books.

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Clint Eastwood

Interviews, Revised and Updated

Robert E. Kapsis

Clint Eastwood (b. 1930) is the only popular American dramatic star to have shaped his own career almost entirely through films of his own producing, frequently under his own direction; no other dramatic star has directed himself so often. He is also one of the most prolific active directors, with thirty-three features to his credit since 1971.

As a star, he is often recalled primarily for two early roles--the "Man with No Name" of three European-made Westerns, and the uncompromising cop "Dirty" Harry Callahan. But on his own as a director, Eastwood has steered a remarkable course. A film industry insider who works through the established Hollywood system and respects its traditions, he remains an outsider by steadfastly refusing to heed cultural and aesthetic trends in film production and film style. His films as director have examined an eclectic variety of themes, ranging from the artist's life to the nature of heroism, while frequently calling into question the ethos of masculinity and his own star image. Yet they have remained accessible to a popular audience worldwide. With two Best Director and two Best Picture Oscars to his credit, Eastwood now ranks among the most highly honored living filmmakers.

These interviews range over the more than four decades of Eastwood's directorial career, with an emphasis on practical filmmaking issues and his philosophy as a filmmaker. Nearly a third are from European sources--several appearing here in English for the first time.

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Col. William N. Selig, the Man Who Invented Hollywood

By Andrew A. Erish

Refuting virtually every previous account of the founding and development of the American motion picture industry, this entertaining biography pays tribute to a pioneer whose many innovations helped to create Hollywood as we know it today.

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Colley Cibber

A Biography

Helene Koon

Colley Cibber changed the course of the English-speaking theater. One of the most complete theater men in the history of the stage, he fostered the change from drama as the handmaiden of literature to theater as an independent and lively art. In the process, Cibber became one of London's brightest stars, one of its most popular playwrights and, for thirty years, manager of the most important theater in England, Drury Lane.

Yet above all, Cibber was an actor, and this fact governed his life and career. In his plays, he demonstrated a remarkable awareness of the audience in the playhouse, while the character of a fool, which he created for the stage, gradually became the mask he wore in private life. The man himself achieved fame and wealth and gained powerful friends who gave him the post of Poet Laureate. But the mask and his success brought equally powerful enemies who made him the target of their ridicule and succeeded in destroying his reputation.

Since then the distorted image created by Pope and Fielding has amused generations of readers, but it does not explain how such a supposed fool remained a favorite with the public throughout his career, had more plays in the repertory than any other contemporary author, successfully managed a major theatrical company, or wrote the best theatrical history of his age. This biography looks at the man behind that distorting mask, his position in his own time, and his contribution to the theater.

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Conversations with Classic Film Stars

Interviews from Hollywood's Golden Era

James Bawden and Ron Miller

James Bawden: Seeing the way people behave when they're around you, is it still fun being Cary Grant?

Cary Grant: I don't like to disappoint people. Because he's a completely made-up character and I'm playing a part. It's a part I've been playing a long time, but no way am I really Cary Grant. A friend told me once, "I always wanted to be Cary Grant." And I said, "So did I." -- from the bookIn Conversations with Classic Film Stars, retired journalists James Bawden and Ron Miller present an astonishing collection of rare interviews with the greatest celebrities of Hollywood's golden age. Conducted over the course of more than fifty years, they recount intimate conversations with some of the most famous leading men and women of the era, including Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Joseph Cotten, Cary Grant, Gloria Swanson, Joan Fontaine, Loretta Young, Kirk Douglas, and many more.

Each interview takes readers behind the scenes with some of cinema's most iconic stars. The actors convey unforgettable stories, from Maureen O'Hara discussing Charles Laughton's request that she change her last name, to Bob Hope candidly commenting on the presidential honors bestowed upon him. Humorous, enlightening, and poignant, Conversations with Classic Film Stars is essential reading for anyone who loves classic movies.

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Conversations with Steve Martin

edited by Robert E. Kapsis

Conversations with Steve Martin presents a collection of interviews and profiles that focus on Martin as a writer, artist, and original thinker over the course of more than four decades in show business. While those less familiar with his full body of work may think of Martin as primarily the “wild and crazy guy” with an arrow through his head, this book makes the case that he is in fact one of our nation’s most accomplished and varied artists. It shows the full range of Martin’s creative work, tracing the source of his comic imagination from his early standup days, starting in the mid to late 1960s through the films he has written and starred in, and emphasizing his more recent creative outpourings as playwright, essayist, novelist, memoirist, songwriter, composer, musician, and art critic.

“Standup is the hardest material in the world to write for someone else; it’s like trying to condense 10 years of experience into 20 minutes of new material.,” Martin says. But commenting on his fiction writing, he says. “I think you have to be able to find as a writer that state where you don’t know what you’re going to say or what the character is going to say or who the characters are. That’s the biggest thrill of all. When you start to trust that subconscious thing and you don’t censor yourself—just remember you can always throw it away—that’s when the good stuff comes out.”

The selected materials consist not only of pieces focused primarily on Martin’s writings, but also broader profiles and conversations that help explain Martin’s development as a writer within the larger context of his many other accomplishments, talents, and performance skills.

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Cowboy Stuntman

From Olympic Gold to the Silver Screen

Dean Smith, with Mike Cox; foreword by James Garner

Dean Smith has taken falls from galloping horses, engaged in fistfights with Kirk Douglas and George C. Scott, donned red wig and white tights to double Maureen O’Hara, and taught Goldie Hawn how to talk like a Texan.
         He’s dangled from a helicopter over the skyscrapers of Manhattan while clutching a damsel in distress, hung upside down from a fake blimp 200 feet over the Orange Bowl, and replicated one of the most famous scenes in movie history by climbing on a thundering team of horses to stop a runaway stagecoach.
         Cowboy Stuntman chronicles the life and achievements of this colorful Texan and Olympic gold medal winner who spent a half century as a Hollywood stuntman and actor, appearing in ten John Wayne movies and doubling for a long list of actors as diverse as Robert Culp, Michael Landon, Steve Martin, Strother Martin, Robert Redford, and Roy Rogers.

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Sex, Celebrity, and My Father's Unsolved Murder

Robert Crane and Christopher Fryer

On June 29, 1978, Bob Crane, known to Hogan's Heroes fans as Colonel Hogan, was discovered brutally murdered in his Scottsdale, Arizona, apartment. His eldest son, Robert Crane, was called to the crime scene. In this poignant memoir, Robert Crane discusses that terrible day and how he has lived with the unsolved murder of his father. But this storyline is just one thread in his tale of growing up in Los Angeles, his struggles to reconcile the good and sordid sides of his celebrity father, and his own fascinating life.

Crane began his career writing for Oui magazine and spent many years interviewing celebrities for Playboy -- stars such as Chevy Chase, Bruce Dern, Joan Rivers, and even Koko the signing gorilla. As a result of a raucous encounter with the cast of Canada's SCTV, he found himself shelving his notepad and tape recorder to enter the employ of John Candy -- first as an on-again, off-again publicist; then as a full-time assistant, confidant, screenwriter, and producer; and finally as one of Candy's pallbearers.

Through disappointment, loss, and heartbreak, Crane's humor and perseverance shine. Beyond the big stars and behind-the-scenes revelations, this riveting account of death, survival, and renewal in the shadow of the Hollywood sign makes a profound statement about the desire for love and permanence in a life where those things continually slip away. By turns shocking and uplifting, Crane is an unforgettable and deeply human story.

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Creating Carmen Miranda

Race, Camp, and Transnational Stardom

Kathryn Bishop-Sanchez

Carmen Miranda got knocked down and kept going. Filming an appearance on The Jimmy Durante Show on August 4, 1955, the "ambassadress of samba" suddenly took a knee during a dance number, clearly in distress. Durante covered without missing a beat, and Miranda was back on her feet in a matter of moments to continue with what she did best: performing. By the next morning, she was dead from heart failure at age 46.

This final performance in many ways exemplified the power of Carmen Miranda. The actress, singer, and dancer pursued a relentless mission to demonstrate the provocative theatrical force of her cultural roots in Brazil. Armed with bare-midriff dresses, platform shoes, and her iconic fruit-basket headdresses, Miranda stole the show in films like That Night in Rio and The Gang's All Here. For American film audiences, her life was an example of the exoticism of a mysterious, sensual South America. For Brazilian and Latin American audiences, she was an icon. For the gay community, she became a work of art personified and a symbol of courage and charisma.

In Creating Carmen Miranda, Kathryn Bishop-Sanchez takes the reader through the myriad methods Miranda consciously used to shape her performance of race, gender, and camp culture, all to further her journey down the road to becoming a legend.

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