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BOOK LIST:

Hollywood Biographies & Memoirs

Updated: September 27, 2012

Candid, colorful, and occasionally shocking portraits of Hollywood's brightest and most fascinating stars, both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes.


by Kellow, Brian.
Call Number: 812.09 K29
This page-turning chronicle of renowned stage actor Richard Bennett and his daughters Constance and Joan is a must read for any film fan. Between Richard's on and off stage theatrics, Constance blowing through her son's trust fund, and Joan's husband shooting her agent, this bio is hard to put down.

by Stenn, David.
Call Number: 812.092 H286St
This thoughtful and painstakingly researched biography of Hollywood's original platinum blonde dispels unfavorable rumors and presents a woman far removed from her sex-symbol image.

by Niven, David, 1910-1983.
Call Number: 822.092 N734-1
Delightful recounting of Niven's early Hollywood years. Hilarious anecdotes about movie stars and moguls from Gable to Goldwyn. A must-read for any film buff.

by Beath, Warren Newton, 1951-
Call Number: 812.092 D281Be
What starts off as an in-depth analysis of James Dean's demise, turns into a fascinating character study of the author's morbid obsession with the actor's death, which alienates him from other Dean fanatics and takes a toll on his marriage.

by Head, Edith.
Call Number: 746.58 H432
Head's memoirs are supplemented by co-author Paddy Calistro in this light and entertaining read about her 50-plus year career as one of Hollywood's most recognizable costume designers.

by Kashner, Sam.
Call Number: 812.092 T2393Ka
They broke all the rules when there were rules to be broken, and at a time when it was truly outrageous to be bad. Their tempestuous, extravagant relationship made sizzling headline news.

by Doherty, Thomas Patrick.
Call Number: 791.2 D655
Meet Joseph Breen, who for two decades determined what American audiences could and could not view on movie screens. A fascinating look at the operations behind the Production Code and the man who was hired by the studios to enforce it.

by McCarthy, Todd.
Call Number: 791.92 H395Mac
Long-time Variety critic Todd McCarthy spent two decades researching the life and career of the legendary director whose career spanned nearly fifty years and brought us such varied titles as Scarface, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Rio Lobo.

by Roth, Lillian, 1910-1980.
Call Number: 812.092 R845
Lindsay Lohan has got nothing on Lillian Roth whose alcohol-drenched tale takes her from the glitz of Broadway to the gutters of Skid Row to redemption through Alcoholics Anonymous. A heart- and gut-wrenching read.

by Feder, Chris Welles.
Call Number: 812.092 W449Fe
Orson Welles' eldest daughter, Christopher, provides a fascinating and amazingly balanced account of her famous father whom she idolized, but who was absent most of the time.

by Vieira, Mark A., 1950-
Call Number: 791.92 T365Vi-1
This meticulously researched biography not only gives a detailed look at the life and personality of M-G-M producer extraordinaire, Irving Thalberg, but also documents the inner workings of Hollywood's grandest studio. Features many primary sources including numerous quotes from the unpublished autobiography of Thalberg's wife, Norma Shearer.

by Oller, John.
Call Number: 812.092 A788Ol
John Oller does a more than admirable job of uncovering the life of the reclusive Jean Arthur who dazzled audiences with her comedic wit but shied away from the public eye.

by Yankee, Luke.
Call Number: 812.092 H448Ya
Touching memoir penned by character actress Heckart's youngest son. The talented Heckart was a Broadway and Hollywood veteran whose indelible portrayals (in everything from The Bad Seed to The Mary Tyler Moore Show) earned her many prestigious awards, yet she was never a household name. The book gives us a peek into the peculiar state of living "just outside the spotlight." The tone is loving but it's a fun read, crammed with dishy anecdotes about Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Lucille Ball, to name a few.

by Turner, Lana, 1921-1995.
Call Number: 812.092 T948
As highly lacquered as her 1940s hair and makeup, but still a fun, juicy read.

by Brooks, Louise, 1906-1985.
Call Number: 812.092 B8727 2000
A collection of eight autobiographical essays by iconic silent film actress Louise Brooks. Topics include her own beginnings at the Denishawn School and as a dancer for the Ziegfeld Follies, as well as keen-eyed portraits of some of her contemporaries, including Chaplin, Bogart, and Garbo.

by Morgan, Michelle.
Call Number: 812.092 M753Mo
Nearly fifty years and a few hundred books after Marilyn Monroe's untimely death, Michelle Morgan somehow manages to provide a fresh and honest take on the life of the legendary actress. Beautifully laid out and featuring many never-before-seen photos.

by Riva, Maria.
Call Number: 812.092 D566Ri
From Berlin to Hollywood to the front lines of WWII, from Vegas to Paris and all points in between, Marlene Dietrich led a life of almost unimaginable sophistication and glamor. Penned by Dietrich's only child, the book is filled with the delicious minutiae that only a true insider can provide, yet it is not a bashing Mommie Dearest-type tome. Rather, it is an unparalleled must-read for anyone interested in the Golden Age of Hollywood and/or biographies of remarkable women.

by Sanders, George, 1906-1972.
Call Number: 812.092 S215
Witty memoir penned by the actor who starred in "All About Eve" and was Zsa Zsa Gabor's third husband. A sensitive heart beat underneath the churlish exterior, however, and Sanders took his own life several years after the book's publication.

by Stine, Whitney, 1930-
Call Number: 812.092 D261St
Author Whitey Stine's meticulous text chronicling the career of Bette Davis is countered with the actress's own responses, which are as straightforward and acidic as one might expect from the legendary Davis.

by Boyt, Susie, 1969-
Call Number: 812.092 G233Bo 2009
British writer Susie Boyt chronicles her lifelong obsession with Judy Garland in a sort of parallel memoir that interweaves watershed moments in her own life with major events in Judy's. Chock full of wonderful, seldom-seen photos, the book is a treat for die-hard Garland fans.

by Astor, Mary, 1906-1987.
Call Number: 812.092 A858
Mary Astor spills the dirt about John Barrymore, failed marriages, alcohol abuse, the notorious George Kaufman diary scandal, and a film career spanning 45 years.

by Flynn, Errol, 1909-1959.
Call Number: 812.092 F648 2003
Scandalous tell-all from Flynn, who was the swashbuckling star of Robin Hood and Captain Blood by day, and a hard-drinking sex machine by night. Firsthand depiction of what it meant to be "in like Flynn."

by Kotsilibas-Davis, James.
Call Number: 812.092 L923Ko
Hollywood's favorite onscreen martini-swigging wife recounts her days as a prologue dancer at the Egyptian Theater, a star at M-G-M, an active member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and shares her disfavor with President Reagan's policies in this engaging autobiography.

by Signoret, Simone, 1921-1985.
Call Number: 842.092 S578
This excellent piece of writing from Oscar winner Simone Signoret (Room at the Top) recounts her early years as a half-Jewish aspiring actress in World War II-era France, and her marriage to popular singer Yves Montand (who had a high-profile affair with Marilyn Monroe while married to Signoret).

by Barker, Felix, 1917-
Call Number: 822.092 O49Ba
This duel biography of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier was written during the height of the couple's professional and personal relationship and remains one of the best-written works on both of these master thespians.

by Selznick, Irene Mayer, 1907-1990.
Call Number: 812.092 S469
Irene Mayer Selznick gives readers a glimpse into the life of Hollywood royalty by sharing her experiences as the daughter of M-G-M mogul Louis B. Mayer, the wife of Gone With the Wind producer David O. Selznick, and finally as a successful theatrical producer.

by Douglas, Kirk, 1916-
Call Number: 812.092 D734
In this well written and engaging memoir, actor Kirk Douglas chronicles his life from his beginnings as a poor Jewish kid in New York through his years as a top Hollywood star.

by Swindell, Larry.
Call Number: 812.092 L841Sw
This straightforward biography benefits greatly from firsthand interviews with friends and family members and gives a fairly full portrait of the beloved actress, and wife of Clark Gable, whose life was cut tragically short in a plane crash.

by Swanson, Gloria.
Call Number: 812.092 S972
Satisfying memoir spanning La Swanson's fabulous career, from Chicago's Essanay Studios in 1914 through her days as a Sennett Bathing Beauty, leading lady of Cecil B. DeMille epics and, of course, her magnificent comeback in the classic Sunset Boulevard. Along the way, Swanson had five marriages, one very notorious affair, and a life stuffed with more "plot" than most film festivals.

by Caron, Leslie.
Call Number: 842.092 C293
Charming autobiography of danseuse Caron, petite star of Gigi and An American in Paris.

by O'Hara, Maureen, 1920-
Call Number: 812.092 O36
Indomitable Irishwoman O'Hara recounts her life and career, from her very first film (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, co-starring Charles Laughton) to her last (Only the Lonely, co-starring John Candy). Her unique voice communicates directly to the reader. A delight.

by Sragow, Michael.
Call Number: 791.92 F598Sr
The man who received the director's credit for Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz in the same year finally gets his due in this heavily researched tome which starts off slow but becomes wholly engaging.

by Farmer, Frances, 1913-1970.
Call Number: 812.092 F233
Heartbreaking account of Miss Farmer's hellish journey from beautiful, brilliant young actress to straggle-haired inmate of a state mental institution.

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