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Well-written life of the great comedienne, today known best as the original of Barbra Streisand's Funny Girl and Funny Woman; by the author of 1988's well-received Jolson. Goldman, an intense researcher, caps his present bio with a big stageography-filmography-discography-bibliography. Brice (1891- 1951) has had only one previous biography, 1952's The Fabulous Fanny by Norman Katkov, which was adapted from her own unpublished memoirs and had little to say about her career. Aside from Streisand's misleading musical film-bios, she is semi-forgotten and remembered largely for her radio shows as Baby Snooks. But in many ways, her life holds tremendous fascination, and the present work hasn't a dull moment. Brice, born Borach on New York's Lower East Side, showed early comic talents, began earning $30 a week as a kid by winning amateur contests all over Brooklyn and Manhattan and playing in light stage-shows. She grew professionally in vaudeville and burlesque, moving from chorus girl to singer-dancer, was a knockout at Yiddish dialect or throwaway lines of Brooklynese (which Streisand captured perfectly). Then, at only 19, she landed in Ziegfeld's Follies for 1910 and thereafter was featured in every edition but two until 1923. As a singer she could thrill audiences, much like Al Jolson or the later Judy Garland, while her genius for comedy, as in her mock ballet ``The Dying Duck,'' melted them into salty puddles of hysteria. Her fame grew exponentially when her first husband, con man Nick Arnstein, was jailed and later became a world-famous fugitive. His selfishness finally killed the marriage, and Fanny later married impresario Billy Rose, another failed union. Her great hit, a closed-eyes rendition of ``My Man,'' was not the show-stopper of Funny Girl: audiences at the real thing were too wiped out for a huge response. A celebrity bio the way they should be written.

Pub Date: March 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-19-505725-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1992

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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