Stars of the Stage and Screen: 1950s and 1960s
February 13, 2002
Reader Advisor Carol Mathews expands on her recommended reading list involving stars of the stage and screen. This list focuses on stars of the 1950s and 1960s. We hope you enjoy the life stories of these entertainers.
Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The Life, Times, and Legend of James Dean by Paul Alexander.
In 1955, 24-year-old actor James Dean died in an automobile crash. Although he acted in only three movies, Dean is considered by some to be "the greatest actor that ever lived." Alexander claims that Dean had multiple homosexual relationships and attributes Dean's popularity in part to his sexual appeal to both genders. Some strong language and some explicit descriptions of sex.
A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story by Annette Funicello with Patricia Romanowski.
Annette Funicello began her career as one of Walt Disney's Mouseketeers on The Mickey Mouse Club television program, which debuted in 1955 when Annette was twelve. She went on to become a singer and starred in beach party movies with Frankie Avalon. Then, except for a few appearances, Annette retired from show business to raise a family. In 1987, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock 'n' Roll Empire by John A. Jackson.
Chronicles the career of Dick Clark from an unknown radio disc jockey to the host of the national teen dance show American Bandstand. Explores Clark's nonstop pursuit of wealth, his escape from the 1959 payola scandal, and his business affairs after the popularity of the show decreased.
Paul Newman, Superstar: A Critical Biography by Lionel Godfrey.
Assesses the career of the handsome, versatile actor who, though regarded as a sex symbol, has appeared in many of his most famous roles in films without a woman. Godfrey also provides a look at the private Newman as a family man, husband, and celebrity.
Audrey Hepburn by Warren G. Harris.
Born to a Dutch baroness in 1929, Hepburn suffered a childhood marred by Hitler's war. Recovering from malnutrition, she resumed ballet lessons but was too far behind and already too tall to be a professional ballerina. A bit part in a movie brought her to the attention of author Colette, who chose Hepburn to star on Broadway as Gigi. Her films include Roman Holiday, Charade, and My Fair Lady. Hepburn's final years were spent working for UNICEF.
Happy Trails: Our Life Story by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with Jane and Michael Stern.
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans made movies together for fifty years and have been married since 1948. Here, they discuss their early lives, including marriages to other people; their career together in the movies; high and low points of their lives; and their reliance on religion.
Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke by Patty Duke and Kenneth Turan.
Patty Duke, who was a child star and later became president of the Screen Actors Guild, tells the painful story of her childhood in the public eye and under the control of her managers, John and Ethel Ross. The nightmare that her life became ended with the diagnosis of her manic depressive illness and her rehabilitation.
Johnny Carson: An Unauthorized Biography by Ronald L. Smith.
A biography of America's popular talk show host. After his boyhood in a small Iowa town where he was the class clown and magician, Carson broke into radio, served in World War 2, and became a television comedy writer and host of a daytime quiz show before his rise to stardom on The Tonight Show. The author also writes of Carson's four marriages and three divorces, and his feuds with Joan Rivers and others.
Kovacsland: A Biography of Ernie Kovacs by Diana Rico.
An account of the life of the irrepressible comedian whose comic sketches broke all the rules of television broadcasting when the media was in its infancy. Seriously ill at age twenty, Kovacs developed an awareness of life's fragility and decided to live each moment to the fullest. A workaholic and a gambler, he is remembered as a generous friend. Kovacs died in an automobile accident at age 42.
Long Live the King: A Biography of Clark Gable by Lyn Tornabene.
This is a portrait of the movie star who for many was the epitome of the masculine ideal. Captures the actor's romances and defeats, and penetrates the legend that surrounded this complex and fascinating man. Some strong language.
Donahue: My Own Story by Phil Donahue.
RC 14910, BR 4366.
Brief, candid memoirs of the popular television talk show host. Donahue tells of his childhood in Cleveland, his college experience at Notre Dame, the transformation of his faith, the pain of divorce, and his determination to make it in show business. Some strong language.
His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra by Kitty Kelley.
A penetrating portrait of the star based on three years of research and interviews with hundreds of people associated with Frank Sinatra, including family members, colleagues, and law enforcement officers. Filled with startling revelations, anecdotes, and intriguing behind the scenes accounts of the controversial, elusive entertainer. Strong language.
The Ragman's Son: An Autobiography by Kirk Douglas.
Actor Kirk Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch Demsky, son of a Russian-Jewish illiterate. He writes of his battle to overcome the poverty of his childhood, his struggle to become an actor, his time in the Navy during World War 2, his movies and moviemaking, the women in his life, and his special love for his family. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex.
Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe by Anthony Summers.
In this compassionate biography, Monroe is portrayed as a vital, tragic figure. Summers depicts an essentially lonely woman with a seriously disturbed psyche, who "postured as the world's mistress, yet yearned for monogamy and motherhood." He also believes that the stories circulating about Monroe's affairs with President Kennedy and his brother Robert are true.
I Was That Masked Man by Clayton Moore with Frank Thompson.
This is the life story of Clayton Moore, who portrayed the Lone Ranger on film from 1949 to 1957. Moore chronicles his days of yesteryear as a trapeze artist, a soldier, an actor, and an American hero. He says he tried to live up to the ideals of honesty, justice, and patriotism that were championed by the famed "masked man."