Books by Marion Meade

Released: March 11, 2010

"A funny, informed, daringly constructed literary biography."
An ingenious dual biography of a classic American author and an unlikely literary muse. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2004

"Largely apocryphal and hardly scholarly, but a lot of fun."
A snappy, anecdotal tale of the writerly Jazz Age ladies—Fitzgerald, Millay, Parker, and Ferber—and the men who adored them. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 21, 2000

A literary Hedda Hopper dishes dirt on the director and evokes pity rather than disgust. Veteran biographer Meade (Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase, 1995, etc.) gets down to business in her first chapter, which recounts Mia Farrow's discovery of his erotic photos of her teenage daughter Soon-Yi. That unbeatable opening segues into a chronicle of Allen's life on-screen and with women, backed by a broad range of interviews with ex-wives, film associates, and paparazzi. Film tidbits abound as Meade details how Allen pushed Warren Beatty out of What's New Pussycat?, balked at changing the title Anhedonia to Annie Hall, and panted for the approbation of film critics, particularly Vincent Canby. Critical analysis, thankfully, is limited to reviewers— reactions and box-office business. Along the way to success come the women, from first wife Harleen, whose relentless exploitation in Allen's work gained her a lifetime settlement, to the teenager whose —mature— affair with Allen inspired Manhattan. There's nothing new about Diane Keaton, except that Allen reserved a drawer for her in the bedroom set he and wife Louise Lasser shared. But when Meade catches up with Mia, the author bares all: the romance, the arguments in front of the tots, and the chilling $7 million legal marathon that left Allen unable to see all his children and shadowed by child-molestation charges. After this spectacle, talk of how little Soon-Yi knew of Allen's films and how she dragged him to fashion shows comes as a relief, as does the climactic appearance of the couple's child, Bechet Dumaine. As Roger Ebert says of the Mia—Woody—Soon-Yi situation, —Life goes on.— Fueled by tart anecdote, graphic scene-making, and glib analysis, Meade's tell-all charges like a 20-mule—team People article. But it delivers on the biographical form's promise of illuminating portraiture, explaining why, after decades of boyishness, Allen now appears —older than his age.— (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) Read full book review >
BUSTER KEATON by Marion Meade
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

Meade (Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This?, 1988, etc.) returns to the Jazz Age with this bio of the great filmmaker and actor Joseph Frank ``Buster'' Keaton, timed to coincide with the centennial of his birth. Warning readers from the outset that she is focusing on his life rather than his films, Meade retells Keaton's story in somewhat more detail than previous biographers. The actor was born to Joe and Myra Keaton, unsuccessful medicine-show performers who became unsuccessful parents. But Keaton (and the physically violent stunts his father performed on him) enlivened their moribund act and made them vaudeville stars. Meade goes into copious detail in recounting the comedian's literally knockabout infancy and childhood and offers perfunctory attempts to situate him in a world before mass media. She chronicles his meteoric rise in the nascent movie industry, his working relationship with Roscoe ``Fatty'' Arbuckle, and Arbuckle's decline in the wake of his trials in the alleged manslaughter of starlet Virginia Rappe. Meade closely traces the consequences of Keaton's disastrous marriage to Natalie Talmadge and the sordid history of his in-laws. She recounts the harrowing downfall that accompanied his ill-advised decision to sign with MGM at the end of the silent era (and reconfirms the belief that Irving Thalberg deserved some blame for the destruction of Keaton's career). After the dismal times of the late '30s and '40s, Keaton rebounded thanks in no small part to the advent of television. Meade is the first Keaton biographer to detail his prickly relationship with film buff Raymond Rohauer; to give the devil his due, the obnoxious Rohauer emerges with considerable credit for saving Keaton's films from oblivion. One wishes that despite her warning Meade would talk more about the films and their making. The failure to do so leaves a large hole in the center of this account. A competent biography, seldom stirring but highly informative. Read full book review >