Scott Eyman
author of JOHN WAYNE
Kirkus Reviews talks to biographer Scott Eyman about John Wayne: The Life and Legend, his new, highly praised account of the star's life, including Wayne's tempestuous love life and his conservative politics in liberal Hollywood.


KIRKUS REVIEW

A comprehensive and compelling examination of The Duke.

Hollywood biographer Eyman (Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille, 2010, etc.) goes beyond a mere cataloging of film credits and biographical highlights to illuminate the process that transformed Marion Morrison (1907-1979) into cinema’s most enduring symbol of masculinity, John Wayne. The poor son of a diffident man and a difficult mother, Wayne enjoyed social success in his school career due to his good looks, winning manner and athletic prowess. However, after an injury ended his football scholarship at the University of Southern California, he angled his way into a job as a prop boy at various movie studios. His commanding height, strength and graceful bearing were noted by director Raoul Walsh, who cast him in a small role, which led to a mostly undistinguished career cranking out generic, low-budget Westerns for Poverty Row studios such as Monogram and Republic. Eyman vividly evokes the humiliation and difficulty of those years in the trenches, where the canny Wayne devoted himself to learning every aspect of moviemaking and performing effectively for the camera. When John Ford gave Wayne his big break in Stagecoach (1939), the actor was ready. Eyman devotes much attention to the complicated but rewarding relationship between Wayne and Ford—the two would partner on an astonishing number of classic films—which would cement Wayne’s image in the public mind as film’s pre-eminent avatar of American manhood. Wayne’s personal life was as full of incident as his roles, including a tempestuous series of marriages, a long-term affair with screen siren Marlene Dietrich and controversy surrounding his conservative political views. Throughout, Eyman portrays Wayne as a man of hidden dimensions: a regular guy who liked to smoke and drink with his buddies and who was also a formidable chess player; a controlling figure on the set also capable of tremendous kindness and generosity; and an untrained actor who mastered the art of film performance.

Insightful, exhaustive and engrossing—a definitive portrait of the man and the legend.


Recent Interviews

Katey Sagal

author of GRACE NOTES

April 10, 2017
GRACE NOTES by Katey Sagal In her memoir Grace Notes, actress and singer/songwriter Katey Sagal takes you through the highs and lows of her life, from the tragic deaths of her parents to her long years in the Los Angeles rock scene, from being diagnosed with cancer at the age of twenty-eight to getting her big break on the fledgling FOX network as the wise-cracking Peggy Bundy on the beloved sitcom Married…with Children. Sparse and poetic, Grace Notes is an emotionally riveting tale of struggle and success, both professional and personal: Sagal’s path to sobriety; the stillbirth of her first daughter, Ruby; motherhood; the experience of having her third daughter at age 52 with the help of a surrogate; and her lifelong passion for music. “While this book is sure to please the author’s many fans, its thoughtful, no-regrets honesty will no doubt also appeal to readers of Hollywood memoirs seeking substance that goes beyond gossip and name-dropping,” our critic writes. “A candid, reflective memoir.” View video >

Emma Donoghue

author of THE LOTTERYS PLUS ONE

April 3, 2017
THE LOTTERYS PLUS ONE by Emma Donoghue In Emma Donoghue’s new middle-grade novel, The Lotterys Plus One, Sumac Lottery is nine years old and the self-proclaimed "good girl" of her (VERY) large, (EXTREMELY) unruly family. And what a family the Lotterys are: four parents, children both adopted and biological, and a menagerie of pets, all living and learning together in a sprawling house called Camelottery. Then one day, the news breaks that one of their grandfathers is suffering from dementia and will be coming to live with them. And not just any grandfather; the long dormant "Grumps," who fell out with his son so long ago that he hasn't been part of any of their lives. Suddenly, everything changes. Sumac has to give up her room to make the newcomer feel at home. She tries to be nice, but prickly Grumps's clearly disapproves of how the Lotterys live: whole grains, strange vegetables, rescue pets, a multicultural household....He's worse than just tough to get along with—Grumps has got to go! But can Sumac help him find a home where he belongs? “Full of clever names and wordplay, this engaging tale is moving without veering into sentimentality,” our critic writes in a starred review. “For all the Lotterys’ apparent eccentricity, the novel delves into universal themes of family relationships that will resonate with readers from all backgrounds.” View video >