Three New Books for Film Loversby Larry Cox on May. 25, 2011, under Uncategorized
The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House by Melissa Anderson (Globe Pequot Press, $22.95)
Melissa Anderson, the Emmy-Award winning actress known for playing Mary Ingalls on the NBC hit series, “Little House on the Prairie,” literally grew up before the cameras during the shooting of those episodes. She began the role in 1974 when she was eleven and continued until she left the show in 1974. Her performances as Mary, the blind sister, and was the only one from the show to be nominated and win an Emmy.
In her new book, Melissa takes readers both on and off the set as she reveals personal anecdotes and, more importantly, how she became not just a successful actress but also a well-grounded adult. She writes candidly and sensitively about the cast and crew and the challenges she faced growing up as a child actor.
Born and raised in California, she currently lives in Montreal, Canada, with Michael Sloan, television producer and screenwriter, and their two children.
Glenn Ford: A Life by Peter Ford with a foreword by Patrick McGilligan (University of Wisconsin Press, $24.95)
Glenn Ford was a restless, complex man. In a 1949 interview, he claimed that most of us are in reality three people — the person we think we are, the person the world thinks we are, and the person we really are.
Ford was born in Canada in 1916 and immigrated to the United States with his family when he was eight. After graduating from Santa Monica High School, he found work with several small theater groups. When WWII began, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps.
After his military service, he arrived in Hollywood where his first major break occurred in 1946 when he was paired with Rita Hayworth in the sizzling feature film, “Gilda.” Throughout the next two decades, he appeared in a string of blockbusters including “The Big Heat,” “Blackboard Jungle,” and “3:10 to Yuma.” He also appeared frequently in television productions.
His personal life was, perhaps, even more colorful than his film work. He was married four times and was a chronic womanizer who bedded some of the most famous women in Hollywood including Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, Hope Lange, and Brigitte Bardot.
In a crisply written new biography by his son, Peter, Glenn Ford’s film work, serial philandering, failed marriages, and turbulent relationships are all documented with candor and keen insight. Drawing on Ford’s personal papers, audio tapes, and diaries, Peter, reveals for the first time that Rita Hayworth became pregnant with Ford’s child during the 1948 filming of “The Loves of Carmen.” The actress later had an abortion at a hospital in France.
Although Peter claims the image of his father was much like an Everyman, that wasn’t the reality in real life. The author, who appeared with his father in eight films, paints a less-than-flattering picture of his famous father but insists his biography is no “Daddy Dearest” book. It is clear that he admired his dad and even moved into his home to care for him during the final years of the actor’s life. Glenn Ford, who made 100 film appearances spanning some seven decades, died at his home in Beverly Hills in 2006. He was 90 at the time of his death.
Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vita Russo by Michael Schiavi (University of Wisconsin Press, $29.95)
Michael Schiavi, an associate professor of English at the New York Institute of Technology’s Manhattan campus, has written the first major biography of Vito Russo, the man who wrote “The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies,” and commonly regarded as a cultural Zelig, especially in the GLAAD community.
Russo, who was born in East Harlem, lived at the center of the gay cultural explosion that occurred during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. “Celluloid Closet” was a seminal work that provided audiences with a dissection of gay imagery in mainstream film. Based on more than 200 interviews, Schiavi serves up a fascinating portrait of a man who helped define gay-rights as well as AIDS activism.
Crisply written, meticulously researched, and engaging, this is an important work that will be of interest to readers even remotely interested in American filmmaking and activism. His contributions are extraordinary and this excellent biography puts both the man and his work in historical context.