An entertaining, richly documented biography that will be appreciated by film and theater scholars as well as fans of these...

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HANK AND JIM

THE FIFTY-YEAR FRIENDSHIP OF HENRY FONDA AND JAMES STEWART

A dual biography tracing the careers and 50-year friendship of two iconic American actors.

In his engrossing new book, biographer and film historian Eyman (John Wayne: The Life and Legend, 2014, etc.) vividly portrays the lives and work of two Hollywood legends: Henry Fonda (1905-1982) and James Stewart (1908-1997). As young actors, they worked together in regional theater with the University Players and eventually became roommates in New York. Upon moving to Hollywood, their individual careers took off, and their friendship continued to endure over the next several decades. Aside from political differences—Fonda was a Democrat, Stewart a Republican—they shared interests, core values, and personality traits that would distinguish them from many actors, including a highly disciplined approach to their work and an aversion to the superficial trappings of celebrity. “They were two loners who went off to see the world and remade component parts of it into their own images,” writes the author, “two fiercely private men who were quite capable of confounding their own families….In their friendship they created a safe place for themselves, away from the fears and frustrations of their careers, their domestic problems, the responsibilities of their legendary status.” While their long-standing friendship is notable, in tracing their personal lives and accomplishments, Eyman’s narrative is even more compelling. He provides a fascinating overview of the industry and the ebbs and flows of his subjects’ careers in film, on stage, and eventually TV (Fonda ultimately felt more at home on stage, while Stewart preferred working on film. Additionally, the author offers in-depth portrayals of key industry players who would remain their close associates, including writer/director Josh Logan, agent/producer Leland Hayward, and Fonda’s first wife, Margaret Sullavan, the talented, somewhat troubled actress for whom both actors shared a lasting, deep affection until her death. Of further note were their individual military achievements in World War II, experiences that greatly influenced their lives and values throughout their remaining years.

An entertaining, richly documented biography that will be appreciated by film and theater scholars as well as fans of these memorable actors.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-0217-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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