New Coffeetable Books: Elizabeth Taylor, the Art of James T. Bialac, Mort Drucker, Ripley’s, and Marilyn MonroeThursday, November 1st, 2012
Mort Drucker: Five Decades of His Finest Works with a foreword by Michael J. Fox (Running Press, $30)
In this third book in Running Presses’ MAD’s Greatest Artists series, the work of Mort Drucker is spotlighted. Drucker, who was born in Brooklyn in 1929, is best known for his satirical work often lampooning popular feature films and TV shows for Mad magazine, a publication he joined in 1956.
Inside the covers of this book are some of his greatest hits including “Bananaz: The ‘Family Togetherness’ Western,” “American Confetti,” “Rockhead IV,” “Raving Bully,” and, my personal favorite, “The Oddfather.”
What makes this collection especially appealing is that its contents were personally selected by Drucker and the staff of Mad.
In 2012, Drucker discussed his art style and how it contributed to his assignments for Mad:
“I’ve always considered a caricature to be the complete person, not just a likeness. Hands in particular have always been a prime focus for me as they can be as expressive of character as the exaggerations and distortions a caricaturist searches for. I try to capture the essence of the person, not just facial features…We all have two eyes, a nose, a mouth, hair and jaw lines, but yet we all look different. What makes that is the space between them.”
If you aren’t familiar with Drucker’s work, you are in store for a real treat. If you grew up with his art, like I did, kick back and let the good times roll. There is a special bonus. Tucked inside the back cover is a pull-out vintage wall poster.
The foreword by Michael J. Fox adds just the right touch.
The James T. Bialac Native Art Collection: Selected Works edited by Mark Andrew White (The University of Oklahoma Press, $29.95)
More than fifty years ago when Phoenix Attorney James T. Bialac was attending the University of Arizona School of Law, he became intrigued with kachina dolls and other examples of Native American art. He began collecting and eventually his collection included some of the most important pieces ever assembled by one individual. In addition to more than 1,000 kachina dolls, he assembled paintings, baskets and pottery.
This impressive collection found a permanent home in 2010 when Bialac and the University of Oklahoma reached an agreement. While most of the collection is at the University in Norman, some artwork is on loan to the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and the Arizona Court System.
It is difficult to calculate the range and importance of this wonderful collection. This book will help. Filled with illustrations of representative pieces, there are also contributions by Christina E. Burke, W. Jackson Rushing III, Rennard Strickland, Christy Vezolles, Edwin L. Wade, Mary Jo Watson and chief editor, Mark Andrew White.
Elizabeth Taylor: A Shining Legacy on Film by Cindy De La Hoz (Running Press, $30)
For seven decades, Elizabeth Taylor was center stage while she fascinated people throughout the world. Considered the most beautiful woman on the planet, she was a major box office star.
Throughout her life, both on stage and off, she made headlines as she survived several near death illnesses, married eight husbands, amassed a king’s ransom in precious jewels, appeared in more than 60 films, and evolved from a sweet-faced child star to a force of nature.
Cindy De La Hoz, a film historian and author of the recent bestseller, “Lucy at the Movies,” has compiled a magnificent book. It is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest actresses Hollywood has ever known. Each of Taylor’s films is featured including excerpts from print reviews and hundreds of rare photographs, some published for the first time.
This is a retrospective that spans her Taylor’s impressive life and career. The production histories provide context and continuity. For example, in her 1960 film, “Butterfield 8,” there are production credits, a summary of the plot, reviews from both Paul V. Beckley of the New York Herald Tribune and Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, and background information such as the fact the film marked the end of her tenure as a contract player at MGM.
Taylor later recalled that after “Butterfield 8” wrapped and her work at the studio ended, she expected “a phone call, or a telegram, or one wilted rose, or some kind of goodbye.” Instead, she got nothing. She had the last laugh, though, when she received an Oscar for her role in the picture.
If you remember Elizabeth Taylor with affection or just like classic movies, this excellent book should be at the top of your shopping list.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not: Download the Weird by the staff of Ripley’s Believe It or Not (Ripley Publishing, $28.95)
The books from Ripley Publishing are always entertaining. This latest collection of all-new stories from around the world include ones that can simply be downloaded by pointing an iPod at the special “oddSCAN” logos throughout the book which allows the text to come alive with exclusive bonus features , videos and images. For those without a smart phone or advanced iPod, this is still remarkable entertainment.
In its pages, readers can meet the world’s oddest couple, he swallows swords, hedge clippers and umbrella handles, while she hangs upside down and lifts lead weights by her hair. There are also Lizardman who lives in Austin and has transformed himself into a reptile-man hybrid, bizarre facts about the Titanic, Roly-Poly Man born without arms or legs, and a peek inside the dime museums of the past.
Even the cover is arresting with its eye-catching holograph foil and lenticular image. If you purchase this book, prepare yourself to be amazed.
Marilyn in Fashion: The Enduring Influence of Marilyn Monroe by Christopher Nickens and George Zeno (Running Press, $30)
Even though Marilyn Monroe has been dead for fifty years, she continues to be one of the biggest money making entertainers on the planet. Her merchandise rings up sales at cash registers year after year after year.
Christopher Nickens, who has been writing about Hollywood for more than 25 years and is the author of several biographies includes ones focusing on Bette Davis, Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor, and George Zeno, an illustrator in the design firms of New York’s famed 7th Avenue, have documented Monroe and she influenced style and fashion in America. Their new book features hundreds of rare images including dozens published for the first time.
The first part of “Marilyn in Fashion” spotlights many of the designers the star worked with such as Oleg Cassini, Dorothy Jeakins, Don Loper, Jean Louis, Normal Norell, Renie, and William Travilla.
One of the most intriguing stories is how Orry-Kelly took a “nude soufflé, draped on the bias to lift her breasts and tuck her tummy in” to create the famous beaded gown she wore in “Some Like It Hot,” the most revealing movie costume of the star’s career.
The pictures in this book are an absolute delight. Monroe strolling in New York City with her then husband, Joe DiMaggio, the dress that gave him a slow burn during the filming of “The Seven Year Itch,” the infamous dress she was sewn into for JFK’s birthday bash at Madison Square Garden, and numerous other images that reveal how she evolved to become an icon.
In part two, “A Fashionable Monroe, there are pages devoted to her makeup, hair, and other aspects of the star’s sense of style and fashion.