A gripping glimpse into 20th-century Hollywood.



In this memoir, a Hollywood writer, director, and producer reminisces about his career and pays tribute to his legendary father.

Few are as closely associated with Hollywood’s golden age as George Stevens, the Academy Award–winning director and producer of iconic films like A Place in the Sun, Shane, and Giant. In this work, George Stevens Jr. both celebrates the life of his acclaimed father and recalls his own distinguished career. The book begins with his father’s upbringing in California as the son of silent film star Landers Stevens, and it delights readers with behind-the-scenes anecdotes about Hollywood stars from the 1940s through 2000s. The volume recounts, for instance, how James Stewart rejected a leading part in a film about racial violence in Georgia because the role supposedly did not “align with Jimmy’s conservative views.” The author also devotes significant space to interactions with politicians, in particular his close relationship with American presidents that spanned his early involvement with the Lyndon B. Johnson administration in creating the National Endowment for the Arts through his tenure as co-chair of Barack Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. As founder of the American Film Institute (which received initial financial support from Johnson) and co-founder of the Kennedy Center Honors, the author provides a rare glimpse into the intersection of Hollywood and Washington, D.C., and their occasionally conflicting agendas. The author recalls, for instance, John F. Kennedy supposedly relaying an obscenity-laden remark to Jack Warner of Warner Brothers after shutting down a screening of the movie Marines, Lets Go in disgust. The book also relates a subsequent tense conversation between Kennedy confidant Pierre Salinger and Warner about the would-be director of the film PT 109. And while at times self-indulgent, the volume is written by a born storyteller who is at his best when regaling readers with intimate stories from his heyday as a central figure in Hollywood and representative of the film industry in Washington. In addition to ample name-dropping, the work includes myriad historical photographs, newspaper clippings, handwritten letters from celebrities and presidents, and other visual aids, making for an engaging read that will intrigue any fan of classic cinema.

A gripping glimpse into 20th-century Hollywood.

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8131-9524-7

Page Count: 536

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

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A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.


The iconic model tells the story of her eventful life.

According to the acknowledgments, this memoir started as "a fifty-page poem and then grew into hundreds of pages of…more poetry." Readers will be glad that Anderson eventually turned to writing prose, since the well-told anecdotes and memorable character sketches are what make it a page-turner. The poetry (more accurately described as italicized notes-to-self with line breaks) remains strewn liberally through the pages, often summarizing the takeaway or the emotional impact of the events described: "I was / and still am / an exceptionally / easy target. / And, / I'm proud of that." This way of expressing herself is part of who she is, formed partly by her passion for Anaïs Nin and other writers; she is a serious maven of literature and the arts. The narrative gets off to a good start with Anderson’s nostalgic memories of her childhood in coastal Vancouver, raised by very young, very wild, and not very competent parents. Here and throughout the book, the author displays a remarkable lack of anger. She has faced abuse and mistreatment of many kinds over the decades, but she touches on the most appalling passages lightly—though not so lightly you don't feel the torment of the media attention on the events leading up to her divorce from Tommy Lee. Her trip to the pages of Playboy, which involved an escape from a violent fiance and sneaking across the border, is one of many jaw-dropping stories. In one interesting passage, Julian Assange's mother counsels Anderson to desexualize her image in order to be taken more seriously as an activist. She decided that “it was too late to turn back now”—that sexy is an inalienable part of who she is. Throughout her account of this kooky, messed-up, enviable, and often thrilling life, her humility (her sons "are true miracles, considering the gene pool") never fails her.

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 9780063226562

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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