Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot bombed in its American debut but survived to become the most widely analyzed and discussed play of the 20th century. For all its avant-garde trappings, it would have provided a fine vehicle for Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy; after all, the play was largely inspired by the popular comedy team, or so it seems. Literary scholars have been digging for the roots of Godot for over 60 years. The intersection where Stan and Ollie met the esteemed playwright, figuratively if not literally, is as good a spot to dig as any.
“This is a superb essay documenting an influence that I have always assumed but never researched. —actor Fred Curchack
“It is very good to have this properly established by a Laurel-and-Hardy expert, so we won’t have to bother about the Beckett-critics’ half-baked musings about Chaplin or Keaton.” —Eric Sillert
Of all the strange liaisons made in Hollywood, the coupling of Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney was perhaps the oddest. But the flamboyant painter and the animation pioneer were both dreamers. When Disney commissioned Dalí to make a short film based on a Mexican love ballad in 1945, he got far more than he bargained for. To Disney, Destino was “just a simple love story—boy meets girl.” But to Dalí, it was “a magical exposition of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time.” Longtime Disney artist John Hench, who worked with Dalí on the project, vividly recalled the aborted film in an exclusive in-depth interview.
“This is the perfect Kindle book—loaded with great research and information… and as always Jordan’s engaging, concise and enjoyable writing. Unbelievably wonderful.” —Randy Morris
“Jordan Young has captured a moment in time, and has done so with wonderful taste.” —Amazon buyer
One of the popular films of all time came close to never being made. It took John Ford nearly two decades to film The Quiet Man after he bought the rights to the tale he read in The Saturday Evening Post. All the major studios, recalled actress Maureen O’Hara, “turned it down and said it was a silly little Irish story that would never ever make a penny.” This book is the product of many years research, beginning in the 1970s. The author spoke with six of the principals involved in the film including O’Hara and the cinematographer, and also had access to the original shooting script.
“This truly excellent study of the background and the making of John Ford’s timeless classic is a remarkable work. For me, the movie has a very personal effect and being able to go back to that little, quaint village of Cong, through Mr. Young’s volume, was certainly a delightful experience that left me hungering for even more.”—Lou Sabini
“Excellent book on this great movie. Loved every part of this book. A must read if you are a fan!” —David L. Kerr
Widely considered the greatest silent picture ever made, The Crowd (1928) was so unusual it was held back from release for almost a year. MGM’s Louis B. Mayer vetoed the picture’s Academy Award chances because it dared to show a toilet in a modest family apartment. In addition to his interviews with director King Vidor (The Big Parade) and star Eleanor Boardman, the author had access to studio memos and telegrams plus virtually every draft of the screenplay, enabling him to track the project from rough idea to finished product. The book describes deleted scenes as well an alternate happy ending the studio clumsily offered.
“The Crowd is the finest American silent film I have ever seen. Jordan Young’s research is worthy of his subject… I read it at one gulp, and found it as fascinating as I had hoped.” —Kevin Brownlow
“A significant contribution to silent-film scholarship.” —Leonard Maltin
“One of the best film books of 2014: The Crowd (1928) is one of the great films of all-time, and this book helps bring its greatness into focus.” —Huffington Post
Billy Wilder’s The Fortune Cookie brought about the debut of one of Hollywood’s top comedy teams when Wilder paired Jack Lemmon with an actor virtually unknown outside the Broadway scene—though he’d tried to cast Walter Matthau in a movie more than a decade earlier. “Directing Lemmon and Matthau” is based on journalist Jordan R. Young’s personal acquaintance with the team, beginning with a visit to the set of The Front Page—his first major assignment as a freelance writer—and later the set of Buddy Buddy; he also interviewed Lemmon about working with Wilder on Some Like It Hot.
“I get sent a lot of this type of thing and it is refreshing to read something so well written and accurate.”
— Charlie Matthau
“An inside look at how all three men work together—Wilder’s insistence on sticking to scripts, Lemmon’s devotion to his craft, Matthau’s irrepressible humor. Worth checking out if you are a fan of any one of these three talented geniuses.”
— Jay Brennan
The performing arts should be a vital part of high school curriculums, not a line item on the endangered species list. Art is not only transformative, it makes better students. The backstage visits detailed here offer a unique opportunity to connect with young people passionate about the performing arts, and see things anew through their eyes. Southern California high school students discuss a variety of productions here, including Macbeth, Our Town, The Scarlet Letter, The Lark, Mother Courage and Her Children and Tracers.
“Thank you SOOOO much for the WONDERFUL article you did on us! I really, really appreciate it and can’t thank you enough! The response has been overwhelming.”
—Lorraine Welling, Buena Park High School
Remember when Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz swiped John Wayne’s footprints from the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre? It’s one of the funniest moments in the history of television, indelibly etched into the pop culture of the 20th century. Staff writer Bob Schiller recalls the tension and “a kind of jealousy” between Desi Arnaz and the writing staff, acting out the physical comedy written for Lucy, Ball’s perfectionism and her inability to deal with people, and more. Plus: Hal Kanter discusses Lucy and Desi’s now forgotten TV debut, and Schiller’s collaborator Bob Weiskopf gives his version of getting the I Love Lucy assignment.
“If you are a fan of Lucy or the golden age of television, this is a MUST READ!!! Mr. Young is one of the noted historians who has a wonderful grasp of this era. A marvelous glimpse behind one of television’s classic programs.” —Rick Lertzman
“Jordan R. Young has probably interviewed more of the great comedy writers of radio and early TV than any other media historian. This is a quick read that will go over big with Lucy fans.” –David30084
Comedians Groucho Marx and Fred Allen had much in common—they were old vaudevillians who learned their craft the hard way, through many years of trial and error on the road. Both were skilled ad-libbers renowned for their razor-sharp wit. Two-time Marx Brothers screenwriter Irving Brecher recalls in this ebook the difficulty of scripting films for the team, and his unsuccessful efforts to create a solo radio show for the comic. Bob Weiskopf discusses writing for Allen’s radio show, Fred’s phony feud with Jack Benny, writing for such guest stars as Humphrey Bogart and Orson Welles, the battles with network execs, and more.
“A must read for any fan of Groucho Marx or Fred Allen. An in depth interview…offers a great behind the mustache look at Groucho. A big five stars for the highly recommended book.” –Rick Lertzman
“An excellent and fascinating book that reveals the innermost workings of the comedy writing process that went on behind the scenes for two great comedians. And kudos to this book for putting a lot of the spotlight on Fred Allen, an incredible wit who was very highly regarded by his comedy peers. Great job, Jordan Young!” –Andrew Dzamba
Jack Benny influenced the likes of Jerry Seinfeld and Kelsey Grammer by turning the spotlight on his talented supporting cast and making himself the butt of the joke. George Balzer, who wrote for the comedian 25 years, reminisces in this ebook about the “I can’t stand Jack Benny” contest he dreamed up, and the classic “Your money or your life?” routine. Joe Penner was a burlesque, vaudeville and radio comic who became famous for the catch phrase, “Wanna buy a duck?” Parke Levy (December Bride) talks about the comedian’s failure to understand his appeal to children and his envy of Benny’s success.
“The excellent questions and answers regarding both Jack Benny and Joe Penner were honest and fascinating. I particularly enjoyed the memories regarding Jack Benny; the stories of writing for him are a treat!!” —Donatfan
Al Jolson is renowned today for the first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, but perhaps least remembered for his appearances on radio. His writers recall a side of him in this ebook the public never saw. Equally surprising are the recollections here of Fanny Brice, radio’s lovable Baby Snooks, offstage and off microphone. To Irving Brecher, Jolie could be “the nicest fellow in the world” when the ratings were down, but not necessarily the other way around. Bob Weiskopf recalls Jolson’s rivalry with Eddie Cantor. Brice was a straightforward, no-nonsense woman, recalls writer Sol Saks, who saw some outrageous offstage behavior and unladylike profanity.
“Revealing and very interesting stories about working with these two hard scrabble show business pros. If you are a fan of both, or either of these performers you don’t want to miss this experience.” –Nick Santa Maria
“This is such an invaluable look at the workaday world of these legendary entertainers, and how they worked to present themselves. Young presents this material in a very readable manner.” –Barry Rivadue
The master of musical mayhem perpetrated his wreck-reations—including “Cocktails for Two,” “My Old Flame,” “Hawaiian War Chant” and “You Always Hurt the One You Love” —on an appreciative public in the 1940s and ‘50s via records, radio, TV, movies and a live stage show. This volume is a response to the many requests from fans and collectors for recommendations, to help sort the essential from the tons of issues and reissues over the years. An introduction to Jones’ recordings and a select list of out-of-print collectables and additional resources (mp3s, radio broadcasts, books, etc.) is also included in this ebook.
“I purchased this book expecting info I was already aware of. Not with this book. There were many new and fascinating pieces of interest for a lover of SJ.” –Spike Jones Jr.
“For Spike Jones newbies there is NO better place to start than this book. If you want to begin collecting Spike’s works or need to update your current collection, you can’t go wrong with this delightful overview of Mr. Jones’ formidable talents.” –Glen Banks
Many of the most popular songs of the 20th Century were written by the same man, Irving Caesar, in 10 minutes or less. “Tea for Two,” “Swanee,” “Animal Crackers in My Soup” and “Just a Gigolo” are just a few of his 2,200 tunes. The top talents of the day, including Al Jolson, Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante and Fats Waller, sang Caesar’s songs; George Gershwin collaborated with him on several occasions. Undeservedly obscure despite the enduring popularity of his songs, Caesar is remembered here by show biz historian Jordan Young and musicologist Miles Kreuger, a longtime friend.
“All Young’s books are very engagingly presented and should be looked at as a solid show biz library subsection!!” –Barry Rivadue
Burt Mustin was 67 when he turned pro. When he died early in 1977 he was one of the oldest working actors in Hollywood—almost 93 years young—and one of the busiest. His characters glowed with the warmth of his own personality and crackled with his wit. Mustin always made the most of his tiny parts. He dispensed advice as Gus the fireman on Leave It To Beaver. He outsmarted Sergeant Friday on Dragnet. He counseled Archie Bunker on growing old on All in the Family. He was Johnny Carson’s favorite closing act on The Tonight Show. Small wonder he’s still vividly remembered today.
“Many of the most well known small part players are brought to life by NAME in Young’s wonderful books, based on actual conversations and research on the stars. Well done! Worth having in your library.” –Irv Hyatt
“There is little enough out there on the great movie and television character actors, but to have a whole volume on Burt Mustin alone is a great treat. Thanks Jordan, for preserving the history of these actors and keep them coming!” —John Nelson
Thisbook is a revealing portrait of the pistol-packing bandleader whose cowbell-and-gunshot renditions of popular music brightened the darkest hours of World War II. Explore the public and private worlds of a complex individual: a serious man in a funny suit; a no-nonsense boss with a razor-sharp tongue; and a public relations wizard who worked his best magic behind the scenes. Interviews with over 100 of Jones’ friends and associates provide a wealth of anecdotes and revelations. Plus rare photos, a comprehensive discography, a who’s who of City Slickers, a resource list and a foreword by radio personality Dr. Demento.
“Looks for the real Spike Jones. Not simply another glowing Hollywood biography… objectively covers the ups and downs of Jones’ career.”
—The Los Angeles Times
“By the time you’re finished, you’ll know more about the music business than perhaps you wanted to–and you’ll also have a nifty perspective on American social history in the 1940s.” —San Francisco Examiner
Legendary Irish actor Jack MacGowran is best known to movie fans for his roles in such popular films and cult classics as The Quiet Man, Tom Jones, Dr. Zhivago, Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers, Peter Brooks’ King Lear, Wonderwall and The Exorcist. But he was most highly acclaimed for his one-man stage show drawn from the works of Samuel Beckett, which brought him widespread renown as Beckett’s foremost interpreter. This biography discusses their collaboration on the definitive productions of Waiting for Godot and Endgame and reveals how MacGowran changed forever the public perception of Beckett from a purveyor of despair to a writer of wit, humanity and courage.
“Young has interviewed seemingly everyone who knew MacGowran, and the result is a sparkling biography of a haunting and haunted man.”—Publishers Weekly
“Meticulously researched…essential [to] our understanding of the life and work of Samuel Beckett.”—Martin Esslin, author, Theatre of the Absurd
“What a find! A fascinating look at a fascinating actor. The author brings alive the work and times of MacGowran. A well-researched and thorough work recommended for any student of theatre.” –An Amazon customer
First edition hardcover signed by the author, limited availability, $24.95.
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Twelve of Hollywood’s top comedy writers speak out in frank, uncensored conversations about the so-called good old days—the stone age of broadcasting, when advertising agencies controlled the programs, stars ran amok and writers were treated with profound disrespect, like a necessary evil. The writers (including Larry Gelbart, Sherwood Schwartz, Hal Kanter and Norman Panama) spare no one in frank, uncensored and frequently hilarious conversations, and reveal how they were often abused, cheated, discredited, manipulated and virtually enslaved. With little prompting they remember the outrageous behind-the-scenes antics of legendary comedians like Groucho Marx, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Abbott and Costello, Jerry Lewis, and Burns and Allen.
“What a boon for show-biz buffs and comedy students alike.”—Leonard Maltin
“Provides many sharply-observed vignettes about comedy writing at the dawn of the medium. It’s not only informative, it’s a pleasure to read.”—Emmy Magazine
“For anyone interested in the history of show biz, it’s an absolute must. The book has such honesty. This is the way it really was…how it happened, how the great comedy shows came together.” —Sherwoood Schwartz, creator of The Brady Bunch.
Home video and cable TV have brought these unforgettable faces from Hollywood’s Golden Era into millions of homes. Interview-profiles with 12 of the movies’ best loved supporting players — including Sam Jaffe, Beulah Bondi, Elisha Cook, Fritz Feld, Iris Adrian, John Carradine, Charles Lane, John Qualen and Anita Garvin — offer a fresh perspective on the stars and directors of the past. The actors’ candid remarks, hilarious anecdotes and shrewd observations give the reader a rare glimpse behind the scenes. What was it really like working with W.C. Fields, Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Laurel & Hardy, John Ford, Frank Capra and Michael Curtiz? You’ll find out here.
“A feast for any old-movie buff. I couldn’t put it down.” —Leonard Maltin
“The truest thing ever written about me… a very talented writer.” —Elisha Cook
“A fastidiously researched book… Young is an affectionate chronicler with a good instinct for the revealing anecdotes and thoughtful reflections of these individuals… A special dividend of Reel Characters is the scrupulousness of Young’s filmographies… the best yet.” —Times Tribune, Palo Alto, Calif.