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

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Live Fast, Love Hard Cover

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Live Fast, Love Hard

The Faron Young Story

Diane Diekman

One of the best-known honky-tonkers since Hank Williams, Faron Young was a popular presence on Nashville's music scene for more than four decades. The Singing Sheriff produced a string of Top Ten hits, placed more than eighty songs on the country music charts, founded the long-running country music periodical Music City News in 1963, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. Flamboyant, impulsive, and generous, he helped and encouraged a new generation of talented songwriter-performers that included Willie Nelson and Bill Anderson. Presenting the first detailed portrayal of this mercurial country music star, Diane Diekman masterfully draws on extensive interviews with Young's family, band members, and colleagues. Echoing Young's characteristic ability to entertain and surprise fans, Diekman combines an account of his public career with a revealing, intimate portrait of his personal life.

The Lost One Cover

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The Lost One

A Life of Peter Lorre

Stephen Youngkin

Often typecast as a menacing figure, Peter Lorre achieved Hollywood fame first as a featured player and later as a character actor, trademarking his screen performances with a delicately strung balance between good and evil. His portrayal of the child murderer in Fritz Lang’s masterpiece M (1931) catapulted him to international fame. Lang said of Lorre: “He gave one of the best performances in film history and certainly the best in his life.” Today, the Hungarian-born actor is also recognized for his riveting performances in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The Maltese Falcon (1941), and Casablanca (1942). Lorre arrived in America in 1934 expecting to shed his screen image as a villain. He even tried to lose his signature accent, but Hollywood repeatedly cast him as an outsider who hinted at things better left unknown. Seeking greater control over his career, Lorre established his own production company. His unofficial “graylisting” by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, however, left him with little work. He returned to Germany, where he co-authored, directed, and starred in the film Der Verlorene (The Lost One) in 1951. German audiences rejected Lorre’s dark vision of their recent past, and the actor returned to America, wearily accepting roles that parodied his sinister movie personality.The first biography of this major actor, The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre draws upon more than three hundred interviews, including conversations with directors Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, John Huston, Frank Capra, and Rouben Mamoulian, who speak candidly about Lorre, both the man and the actor. Author Stephen D. Youngkin examines for the first time Lorre’s pivotal relationship with German dramatist Bertolt Brecht, his experience as an émigré from Hitler’s Germany, his battle with drug addiction, and his struggle with the choice between celebrity and intellectual respectability.Separating the enigmatic person from the persona long associated with one of classic Hollywood’s most recognizable faces, The Lost One is the definitive account of a life triumphant and yet tragically riddled with many failed possibilities.

Luis Buñuel Cover

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Luis Buñuel

The Red Years, 1929–1939

Román Gubern

The turbulent years of the 1930s were of profound importance in the life of Spanish film director Luis Buñuel (1900–1983). He joined the Surrealist movement in 1929 but by 1932 had renounced it and embraced Communism. During the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), he played an integral role in disseminating film propaganda in Paris for the Spanish Republican cause.
    Luis Buñuel: The Red Years, 1929–1939 investigates Buñuel’s commitment to making the politicized documentary Land without Bread (1933) and his key role as an executive producer at Filmófono in Madrid, where he was responsible in 1935–36 for making four commercial features that prefigure his work in Mexico after 1946. As for the republics of France and Spain between which Buñuel shuttled during the 1930s, these became equally embattled as left and right totalitarianisms fought to wrest political power away from a debilitated capitalism.
    Where it exists, the literature on this crucial decade of the film director’s life is scant and relies on Buñuel’s own self-interested accounts of that complex period. Román Gubern and Paul Hammond have undertaken extensive archival research in Europe and the United States and evaluated Buñuel’s accounts and those of historians and film writers to achieve a portrait of Buñuel’s “Red Years” that abounds in new information.

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Mae Murray

The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips

Michael G. Ankerich. foreword by Kevin Brownlow

Mae Murray (1885--1965), popularly known as "the girl with the bee-stung lips," was a fiery presence in silent-era Hollywood. Renowned for her classic beauty and charismatic presence, she rocketed to stardom as a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies, moving across the country to star in her first film, To Have and to Hold, in 1916. An instant hit with audiences, Murray soon became one of the most famous names in Tinseltown.

However, Murray's moment in the spotlight was fleeting. The introduction of talkies, a string of failed marriages, a serious career blunder, and a number of bitter legal battles left the former star in a state of poverty and mental instability that she would never overcome.

In this intriguing biography, Michael G. Ankerich traces Murray's career from the footlights of Broadway to the klieg lights of Hollywood, recounting her impressive body of work on the stage and screen and charting her rapid ascent to fame and decline into obscurity. Featuring exclusive interviews with Murray's only son, Daniel, and with actor George Hamilton, whom the actress closely befriended at the end of her life, Ankerich restores this important figure in early film to the limelight.

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The Magic Behind the Voices

A Who's Who of Cartoon Voice Actors

Tim Lawson

The Magic Behind the Voices is a fascinating package of biographies, anecdotes, credit listings, and photographs of the actors who have created the unmistakable voices for some of the most popular and enduring animated characters of all time.

Drawn from dozens of personal interviews, the book features a unique look at thirty-nine of the hidden artists of show business. Often as amusing as the characters they portray, voice actors are charming, resilient people-many from humble beginnings-who have led colorful lives in pursuit of success. Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill's Mike Judge was an engineer for a weapons contractor turned self-taught animator and voice actor. Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson) was a small town Ohio girl who became the star protégé of Daws Butler-most famous for Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and Quick Draw McGraw. Mickey Mouse (Wayne Allwine) and Minnie Mouse (Russi Taylor) are a real-life husband-and-wife team. Spanning many studios and production companies, this book captures the spirit of fun that bubbles from those who create the voices of favorite animated characters.

In the earliest days of cartoons, voice actors were seldom credited for their work. A little more than a decade ago, even the Screen Actors Guild did not consider voice actors to be real actors, and the only voice actor known to the general public was Mel Blanc. Now, Oscar-winning celebrities clamor to guest star on animated television shows and features.

Despite the crushing turnouts at signings for shows such as Animaniacs, The Simpsons, and SpongeBob Squarepants, most voice actors continue to work in relative anonymity. The Magic Behind the Voices features personal interviews and concise biographical details, parting the curtain to reveal creators of many of the most beloved cartoon voices.

Tim Lawson is a freelance writer and filmmaker who lives in Galesburg, Illinois.

Alisa Persons is a freelance writer, artist, animator, and filmmaker, who lives in Superior, Wisconsin.

The Magic Kingdom Cover

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The Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney and the American Way of Life

Steven Watts

The Magic Kingdom sheds new light on the cultural icon of "Uncle Walt."  Watts digs deeply into Disney's private life, investigating his roles as husband, father, and brother and providing fresh insight into his peculiar psyche-his genuine folksiness and warmth, his domineering treatment of colleagues and friends, his deepest prejudices and passions.  Full of colorful sketches of daily life at the Disney Studio and tales about the creation of Disneyland and Disney World, The Magic Kingdom offers a definitive view of one of the most influential Americans of the twentieth century.

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Mama Rose's Turn

The True Story of America's Most Notorious Stage Mother

Carolyn Quinn

Hers is the show business saga you think you already know--but you ain't seen nothin' yet. Rose Thompson Hovick, mother of June Havoc and Gypsy Rose Lee, went down in theatrical history as "The Stage Mother from Hell" after her immortalization on Broadway in Gypsy: A Musical Fable. Yet the musical was 75 percent fictionalized by playwright Arthur Laurents and condensed for the stage. Rose's full story is even more striking.

Born fearless on the North Dakota prairie in 1892, Rose Thompson had a kind father and a gallivanting mother who sold lacy finery to prostitutes. She became an unhappy teenage bride whose marriage yielded two entrancing daughters, Louise and June. When June was discovered to be a child prodigy in ballet, capable of dancing en pointe by the age of three, Rose, without benefit of any theatrical training, set out to create onstage opportunities for her magical baby girl--and succeeded.

Rose followed her own star and created two more in dramatic and colorful style: "Baby June" became a child headliner in vaudeville, and Louise grew up to be the well-known burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee. The rest of Mama Rose's remarkable story included love affairs with both men and women, the operation of a "lesbian pick-up joint" where she sold homemade bathtub gin, wild attempts to extort money from Gypsy and June, two stints as a chicken farmer, and three allegations of cold-blooded murder--all of which was deemed unfit for the script of Gypsy. Here, at last, is the rollicking, wild saga that never made it to the stage.

Mamoulian Cover

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Mamoulian

Life on Stage and Screen

David Luhrssen

An Armenian national raised in Russia, Rouben Mamoulian (1897--1987) studied in the influential Stanislavski studio, renowned as the source of the "method" acting technique. Shortly after immigrating to New York in 1926, he created a sensation with an all-black production of Porgy (1927). He then went on to direct the debut Broadway productions of three of the most popular shows in the history of American musical theater: Porgy and Bess (1935), Oklahoma! (1943), and Carousel (1945). Mamoulian began working in film just as the sound revolution was dramatically changing the technical capabilities of the medium, and he quickly established himself as an innovator. Not only did many of his unusual camera techniques become standard, but he also invented a device that eliminated the background noises created by cameras and dollies. Seen as a rebel earlier in his career, Mamoulian gradually gained respect in Hollywood, and the Directors Guild of America awarded him the prestigious D. W. Griffith Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1983.

In this meticulously researched biography, David Luhrssen paints the influential director as a socially conscious artist who sought to successfully combine art and commercial entertainment. Luhrssen not only reveals the fascinating personal story of an important yet neglected figure, but he also offers a tantalizing glimpse into the extraordinarily vibrant American film and theater industries during the twenties, thirties, and forties.

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The Marxist and the Movies

A Biography of Paul Jarrico

Larry Ceplair

As part of its effort to expose Communist infiltration in the United States and eliminate Communist influence on movies, from 1947–1953 the House Committee on Un-American Activities subpoenaed hundreds of movie industry employees suspected of membership in the Communist Party. Most of them, including screenwriter Paul Jarrico (1915–1997), invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions about their political associations. They were all blacklisted. In The Marxist and the Movies, Larry Ceplair narrates the life, movie career, and political activities of Jarrico, the recipient of an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for Tom, Dick and Harry (1941) and the producer of Salt of the Earth (1954), one of the most politically besieged films in the history of the United States. Though Jarrico did not reach the upper eschelon of screenwriting, he worked steadily in Hollywood until his blacklisting. He was one of the movie industry's most engaged Communists, working on behalf of dozens of social and political causes. Song of Russia (1944) was one of the few assignments that allowed him to express his political beliefs through his screenwriting craft. Though MGM planned the film as a conventional means of boosting domestic support for the USSR, a wartime ally of the United States, it came under attack by a host of anti-Communists. Jarrico fought the blacklist in many ways, and his greatest battle involved the making of Salt of the Earth. Jarrico, other blacklisted individuals, and the families of the miners who were the subject of the film created a landmark film in motion picture history. As did others on the blacklist, Jarrico decided that Europe offered a freer atmosphere than that of the cold war United States. Although he continued to support political causes while living abroad, he found it difficult to find remunerative black market screenwriting assignments. On the scripts he did complete, he had to use a pseudonym or allow the producers to give screen credit to others. Upon returning to the United States in 1977, he led the fight to restore screen credits to the blacklisted writers who, like himself, had been denied screen credit from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. Despite all the obstacles he encountered, Jarrico never lost his faith in the progressive potential of movies and the possibility of a socialist future. The Marxist and the Movies details the relationship between a screenwriter’s work and his Communist beliefs. From Jarrico’s immense archive, interviews with him and those who knew him best, and a host of other sources, Ceplair has crafted an insider’s view of Paul Jarrico’s life and work, placing both in the context of U.S. cultural history.

Mary Pickford Cover

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Mary Pickford

Queen of the Movies

edited by Christel Schmidt

In the early days of cinema, when actors were unbilled and unmentioned in credits, audiences immediately noticed Mary Pickford. Moviegoers everywhere were riveted by her magnetic talent and appeal as she rose to become cinema's first great star.

In this engaging collection, copublished with the Library of Congress, an eminent group of film historians sheds new light on this icon's incredible life and legacy. Pickford emerges from the pages in vivid detail. She is revealed as a gifted actress, a philanthropist, and a savvy industry leader who fought for creative control of her films and ultimately became her own producer. This beautifully designed volume features more than two hundred color and black and white illustrations, including photographs and stills from the collections of the Library of Congress and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Together with the text, they paint a fascinating portrait of a key figure in American cinematic history.author of South of the Border with Disney: Walt Disney and the Good Neighbor Program, 1941-1948

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