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Film, Theater, and Performing Arts > Individual Performers and Directors

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I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History Cover

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I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History

Walter Mirisch

This is a moving, star-filled account of one of Hollywood’s true golden ages as told by a man in the middle of it all. Walter Mirisch’s company has produced some of the most entertaining and enduring classics in film history, including West Side Story, Some Like It Hot, In the Heat of the Night, and The Magnificent Seven. His work has led to 87 Academy Award nominations and 28 Oscars. Richly illustrated with rare photographs from his personal collection, I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History reveals Mirisch’s own experience of Hollywood and tells the stories of the stars—emerging and established—who appeared in his films, including Natalie Wood, John Wayne, Peter Sellers, Sidney Poitier, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, and many others.
    With hard-won insight and gentle humor, Mirisch recounts how he witnessed the end of the studio system, the development of independent production, and the rise and fall of some of Hollywood’s most gifted (and notorious) cultural icons. A producer with a passion for creative excellence, he offers insights into his innovative filmmaking process, revealing a rare ingenuity for placating the demands of auteur directors, weak-kneed studio executives, and troubled screen sirens.
    From his early start as a movie theater usher to the presentation of such masterpieces as The Apartment, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Great Escape, Mirisch tells the inspiring life story of his climb to the highest echelon of the American film industry. This book assures Mirisch’s legacy—as Elmore Leonard puts it—as “one of the good guys.”

Best Books for Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Association

I Walked With Giants: The Autobiography of Jimmy Heath Cover

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I Walked With Giants: The Autobiography of Jimmy Heath

Composer of more than 100 jazz pieces, three-time Grammy nominee, and performer on more than 125 albums, Jimmy Heath has earned a place of honor in the history of jazz. Over his long career, Heath knew many jazz giants such as Charlie Parker and played with other innovators including John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and especially Dizzy Gillespie. Heath also won their respect and friendship.

In this extraordinary autobiography, the legendary Heath creates a “dialogue” with musicians and family members. As in jazz, where improvisation by one performer prompts another to riff on the same theme, I Walked with Giants juxtaposes Heath’s account of his life and career with recollections from jazz giants about life on the road and making music on the world’s stages. His memories of playing with his equally legendary brothers Percy and Albert (aka “Tootie”) dovetail with their recollections.

Heath reminisces about a South Philadelphia home filled with music and a close-knit family that hosted musicians performing in the city’s then thriving jazz scene. Milt Jackson recalls, “I went to their house for dinner…Jimmy’s father put Charlie Parker records on and told everybody that we had to be quiet till dinner because he had Bird on…. When I [went] to Philly, I’d always go to their house.”    Today Heath performs, composes, and works as a music educator and arranger. By turns funny, poignant, and extremely candid, Heath’s story captures the rhythms of a life in jazz.

I Wonder as I Wander Cover

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I Wonder as I Wander

The Life of John Jacob Niles

Ron Pen

Louisville native John Jacob Niles (1892–1980) is considered to be one of our nation’s most influential musicians. As a composer and balladeer, Niles drew inspiration from the deep well of traditional Appalachian and African American folk songs. At the age of sixteen Niles wrote one of his most enduring tunes, “Go ’Way from My Window,” basing it on a song fragment from a black farm worker. This iconic song has been performed by folk artists ever since and may even have inspired the opening line of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe.” In I Wonder as I Wander: The Life of John Jacob Niles, the first full-length biography of Niles, Ron Pen offers a rich portrait of the musician’s character and career. Using Niles’s own accounts from his journals, notebooks, and unpublished autobiography, Pen tracks his rise from farm boy to songwriter and folk collector extraordinaire. Niles was especially interested in documenting the voices of his fellow World War I soldiers, the people of Appalachia, and the spirituals of African Americans. In the 1920s he collaborated with noted photographer Doris Ulmann during trips to Appalachia, where he transcribed, adapted, and arranged traditional songs and ballads such as “Pretty Polly” and “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair.” Niles’s preservation and presentation of American folk songs earned him the title of “Dean of American Balladeers,” and his theatrical use of the dulcimer is credited with contributing to the popularity of that instrument today. Niles’s dedication to the folk music tradition lives on in generations of folk revival artists such as Jean Ritchie, Joan Baez, and Oscar Brand. I Wonder as I Wander explores the origins and influences of the American folk music resurgence of the 1950s and 1960s, and finally tells the story of a man at the forefront of that movement.

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Ida Lupino

A Biography

William Donati

"Ida Lupino (1918-1995) was more than a gorgeous image of film noir in the forties and fifties who starred in classics such as They Drive By Night, High Sierra, and Road House. Lupino also evolved into one of Hollywood's earliest female directors whose work was described by Martin Scorsese as ""resilient, with a remarkable empathy for the fragile and heartbroken."" William Donati chronicles the dramatic life of one of Hollywood's most prolific, substantive, and innovative artists, both behind and in front of the camera."

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The Immortal Count

The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi

Arthur Lennig

" Bela Lugosi won immediate fame for his portrayal of the immortal count in the 1931 film Dracula. After a decade of trying vainly to broaden his range and secure parts to challenge his acting abilities, Lugosi resigned himself to a career as the world's most recognizable vampire. His last years were spent as a forgotten and rather tragic figure. When he died in 1956, Lugosi could not have known that vindication of his talent would come -- his face would adorn theaters, his image would appear on greeting cards and postage stamps, his film memorabilia would sell for more than he earned in his entire career, and his Hungarian accent would be instantly recognized by millions of people. Martin Landau's Oscar-winning role as Lugosi in the 1994 film Ed Wood added an ironic twist to a career that had ended in oblivion. In 1974, devoted Lugosi fan Arthur Lennig published a highly regarded biography of the unsung actor. More than twice the length of the original and completely rewritten, The Immortal Count provides deeper insights into Lugosi's films and personality. Drawing upon personal interviews, studio memos, shooting scripts, research in Romania and Hungary, and his own recollections, Lennig has written the definitive account of Lugosi's tragic life.

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In and Out of Hollywood

A Biographer’s Memoir

As a best-selling biographer of numerous Hollywood greats—Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Howard Hughes, and Cary Grant among them—Charles Higham has been privy to the public and private joys, tragedies, scandals, and desires of many of the darlings of Hollywood’s red carpet. In and Out of Hollywood is Higham’s own life story, replete with a vibrant cast that includes stars from Marlene Dietrich to Clint Eastwood to Leonardo DiCaprio.
    Born into a life of privilege in 1930s England, Higham endured a difficult childhood. To escape a tortured family situation, Higham married early despite his awakening homosexuality and fled to Australia with his wife to begin a new life as a poet, journalist, and editor. By the 1960s he had settled in Hollywood. It was here that he struck gold by finding and writing about the reels of Orson Welles’s legendary unfinished Latin American epic film It’s All True, long thought lost in a Paramount vault. This momentous find rocketed Higham to the A-list. He soon became a New York Times feature writer and sought-after biographer lauded for his pioneering style.
    In and Out of Hollywood contains Higham’s personal reflections on the stars he has known over the past forty years. From his insider perch he reveals Hollywood’s inner life: how Bette Davis influenced the death of her second husband; how Walt Disney’s dark vision devolved into bright animated features he astonishingly despised; how leading actors clandestinely participated in gay activities. Higham’s memoir also charts his work as a political commentator, historian, poet, and playwright; describes the dangers and excitements of gay life before AIDS; and recounts his eventual discovery of a lasting relationship. In and Out of Hollywood is a lively tour through several decades of changing times and personalities behind the scenes of the American film world.
  

In It for the Long Run Cover

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In It for the Long Run

A Musical Odyssey

Jim Rooney

Inspired by the Hank Williams and Leadbelly recordings he heard as a teenager growing up outside of Boston, Jim Rooney began a musical journey that intersected with some of the biggest names in American music including Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Bill Monroe, Muddy Waters, and Alison Krauss. In It for the Long Run: A Musical Odyssey is Rooney's kaleidoscopic first-hand account of more than five decades of success as a performer, concert promoter, songwriter, music publisher, engineer, and record producer.As witness and participant of over a half century of music history, Rooney provides a sophisticated window into American vernacular music. Following his stint as a "Hayloft Jamboree" hillbilly singer in the mid-1950s, Rooney managed Cambridge's Club 47, a catalyst of the `60's folk music boom. He soon moved to the Newport Folk Festival as talent coordinator and director where he had a front row seat to Dylan "going electric."In the 1970s Rooney's odyssey continued in Nashville where he began engineering and producing records. His work helped alternative country music gain a foothold in Music City and culminated in Grammy nominations for singer-songwriters John Prine, Iris Dement, and Nanci Griffith. Later in his career he was a key link connecting Nashville to Ireland's folk music scene.Writing songs or writing his memoir, Jim Rooney is the consummate storyteller. In It for the Long Run: A Musical Odyssey is his singular chronicle from the heart of Americana.

Inside the Whimsy Works Cover

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Inside the Whimsy Works

My Life with Walt Disney Productions

Jimmy Johnson

In this never-before-published memoir from the vaults of the Walt Disney Archives, Disney Legend Jimmy Johnson (1917-1976) takes you from his beginnings as a studio gofer during the days of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to the opening of Walt Disney World Resort. Johnson relates dozens of personal anecdotes with famous celebrities, beloved artists, and, of course, Walt and Roy Disney.

This book, also the story of how an empire-within-an-empire is born and nurtured, traces Johnson's innovations in merchandising, publishing, and direct marketing, to the formation of what is now Walt Disney Records. This fascinating biography explains how the records helped determine the course of Disney Theme Parks, television, and film through best-selling recordings by icons such as Annette Funicello, Fess Parker, Julie Andrews, Louis Armstrong, and Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Through Jimmy Johnson's remarkable journey, the film, TV, and recording industries grow up together as changes in tastes and technologies shape the world, while the legacy of Disney is developed as well as carefully sustained for the generations who cherish its stories, characters, and music.

Intrepid Laughter Cover

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Intrepid Laughter

Preston Sturges and the Movies

Andrew Dickos

Throughout his career, Preston Sturges (1898--1959) was known for bringing sophistication and wit to the genre of comedy, establishing himself as one of the most valuable writer-directors in 1940s Hollywood. Today, more than fifty years after they were originally produced, his films have lost little of their edge and remain extremely popular. Intrepid Laughter is an essential guide to the life and work of this luminary of the stage and screen, following Sturges from his unusual childhood, to his early success as a Broadway playwright, to his whirlwind career in Hollywood.

Jack Nicholson Cover

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Jack Nicholson

The Early Years

Robert Crane and Christopher Fryer

Originally published as Jack Nicholson: Face to Face in 1975, Jack Nicholson: The Early Years is the first book written about the enigmatic star and the only one to have Nicholson's participation. In 1975 Nicholson was just becoming a household name in spite of having already starred in, written or produced 25 films including classics such as Easy Rider (1969), Five Easy Pieces (1970), The Last Detail (1973) and Chinatown (1974). To date, Nicholson has been nominated for twelve Academy Awards and won three, has garnered seven Golden Globe awards, and took home the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award at the age of 57.

Authors Robert Crane and Christopher Fryer interviewed Nicholson for what began as a thesis for a University of Southern California film class but which quickly morphed into a larger portrait of Nicholson's unique craft. Crane and Fryer conducted their interviews with Nicholson with the intent of showcasing the young star as he saw himself, while also interviewing many of Nicholson's close friends and fellow filmmakers, including Dennis Hopper, Roger Corman, Hal Ashby, Ann-Margret, Robert Evans and Bruce Dern, providing a comprehensive profile of the actor's early years in the industry. The result is a true insider's look at Nicholson not only as a writer, director and actor, but also offers insights into a private man's private life. Jack Nicholson: The Early Years stands as a testament to his incredible success in Hollywood.

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