Customer Reviews for

Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them

Average Rating 3.5
( 44 )
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(8)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

This was really enjoyable. It's like sitting down and having a c

This was really enjoyable. It's like sitting down and having a chat with the author over coffee, just reminiscing about people he's known. There were some people he liked and some he didn't and he stated very clearly why. There was NO bashing. Anyone who thinks this was...
This was really enjoyable. It's like sitting down and having a chat with the author over coffee, just reminiscing about people he's known. There were some people he liked and some he didn't and he stated very clearly why. There was NO bashing. Anyone who thinks this was an exercise in "bashing" anyone either didn't actually read the whole book or didn't understand it. This is clearly stated as one man's memories and experiences. And Langella is in no way, shape or form B list.

posted by morganmad on April 14, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

An odd book. I began it with high expectations, since I find La

An odd book. I began it with high expectations, since I find Langella to be an intelligent, highly skilled actor. What I've discovered by reading his memoir of now-dead famous friends and acquaintances, however, is that I don't think I like him very much; he's a littl...
An odd book. I began it with high expectations, since I find Langella to be an intelligent, highly skilled actor. What I've discovered by reading his memoir of now-dead famous friends and acquaintances, however, is that I don't think I like him very much; he's a little too cruel for my taste. Consider this about Roddy Mcdowell -- "I watched him work the room like a cordless vacuum cleaner, sucking up celebrity droppings."

Or perhaps that's not fair. More accurately stated, I feel somewhat sorry for him. Reading between the lines here, he comes off as a very smart, somewhat insecure man with a dodgy semi-transparent sex life (there is a lot of slap and tickle in the book with famous women of all ages and, one suspects, a few tumbles--or at least exploratory sessions--with men) and a longing to be seen as both attractive and important, who regardless of accomplishments is dissatisfied and snarky. True, he does not escape his own criticism, but there's something about this parade of elderly, mostly drunken, sad, sick and lonely actors that left me feeling little more than pity for the entire profession. Many creative people feel this way, of course -- God knows I've met my fair share of writers who fit the bill.

His prose his fine -- not brilliant writing, but it serves -- and he certainly does know a lot of famous folks, many of whom say clever, if unkind, things about each other. Still, I think I'll go back and watch his STUNNING performance in "Starting Our In The Evening." I prefer that Langella.

posted by LaurenBDavis on June 10, 2012

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  • Posted June 10, 2012

    An odd book. I began it with high expectations, since I find La

    An odd book. I began it with high expectations, since I find Langella to be an intelligent, highly skilled actor. What I've discovered by reading his memoir of now-dead famous friends and acquaintances, however, is that I don't think I like him very much; he's a little too cruel for my taste. Consider this about Roddy Mcdowell -- "I watched him work the room like a cordless vacuum cleaner, sucking up celebrity droppings."

    Or perhaps that's not fair. More accurately stated, I feel somewhat sorry for him. Reading between the lines here, he comes off as a very smart, somewhat insecure man with a dodgy semi-transparent sex life (there is a lot of slap and tickle in the book with famous women of all ages and, one suspects, a few tumbles--or at least exploratory sessions--with men) and a longing to be seen as both attractive and important, who regardless of accomplishments is dissatisfied and snarky. True, he does not escape his own criticism, but there's something about this parade of elderly, mostly drunken, sad, sick and lonely actors that left me feeling little more than pity for the entire profession. Many creative people feel this way, of course -- God knows I've met my fair share of writers who fit the bill.

    His prose his fine -- not brilliant writing, but it serves -- and he certainly does know a lot of famous folks, many of whom say clever, if unkind, things about each other. Still, I think I'll go back and watch his STUNNING performance in "Starting Our In The Evening." I prefer that Langella.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 14, 2012

    This was really enjoyable. It's like sitting down and having a c

    This was really enjoyable. It's like sitting down and having a chat with the author over coffee, just reminiscing about people he's known. There were some people he liked and some he didn't and he stated very clearly why. There was NO bashing. Anyone who thinks this was an exercise in "bashing" anyone either didn't actually read the whole book or didn't understand it. This is clearly stated as one man's memories and experiences. And Langella is in no way, shape or form B list.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 17, 2012

    First of all, this work is totally enthralling...as what wouldn'

    First of all, this work is totally enthralling...as what wouldn't be, if it digs up new dirt, full of worms, about top celebrities, now all deceased (but known first-hand), with the sharpest of spades. Note the words "new" and "all deceased": most of the dirt is new, and the fact that the bodies are safely below ground is troublesomely underhanded, no? But I can almost hear Langella cackling over his cleverness while under his breath. The pages turn like wildfire as one races to get to the punchlines. You're rarely quite sure where anyone stands in his esteem until you reach the end of a character sketch, and as often as not, that standing is something of a non-sequitur from what's gone before. In retrospect, I wouldn't have missed this book for the world, but its conception is somewhat despicable. And full of resentment, I suspect, from a not-quite-A-list actor, whose aura for me has always had an element of the sleaze (like anyone, I'm not 100 o/o free of bias). He tries unsuccessfully to cover his ego with elegant chicanery, and there's some discomfort for the reader in the way he relates how he asked several of his subjects, out of the blue, about their sexual bents and experiences, while elsewhere boasting subtly about his own, through several marriages and many heterosexual affairs which somehow don't seem to tell the whole story. He could have had the aging, lonely, vulnerable Liz Taylor at will, you gather, but....

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2012

    Mr. Langella is one of the finest actors living today. You get t

    Mr. Langella is one of the finest actors living today. You get to be that way by your experiences. In this book are just SOME of those experiences. But what experiences they are! Here is Hollywood, the classic Hollywood unlike today, behind the scenes. Not 'behind the scenes' as in 'how this film was made' but 'behind the scenes' of those who made them. Behind the scenes of the carefully crafted public images. Who was really like their public image? Who wasn't? Who longed for the public image they once had? Here are some of the stage and screen's royalty as they are, unguarded, unvarnished before one of their own where they need not let their public image out of the box.

    This is a great book and a great read! Mr. Langella's writing is as if you were sitting across from him at dinner in his house having a conversation. You are enthralled and fascinated. It is a book that could only come by way of one of THE great actors of stage and screen in our time.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2013

    What can I say about a man who says that Paul Newman is not a go

    What can I say about a man who says that Paul Newman is not a good actor? I would wager to say that Mr. Langella does think of himself as a good actor. The only thing I can remember seeing him in was Dracula, however I remember every perofrmance of Mr. Newman's that I have seen. He even says that Mr. Newman came to him admiring his acting and hints that Mr. Newman sought his advice!!!!!!!! OH MY GAWD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    There are some good tidbits of information in this book. Often though things are quoted from a source listed as "an actress", "a source", "someone once said".
    I paid $8.00 for the book, including shipping, I think I got my money's worth.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2012

    Interesting

    I have to admit I didn't know who he was. I had to Google his picture. Had no idea he had been with Whoopi for 5 or so years. At first I was put off by his gravitation to celebrities and didn't believe that he had had such close associations with the likes of Jackie Kennedy and Bunny Mellon, but as his subsequent entries made convincing cross references to these associations, I started to believe him and came to change my perception of Mr. Langella. I found him to be very proud and individualistic, his own person, not to be bought by anyone, yet a man of heart and integrity. I liked him by the end. Glad I got to know him better through this book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2012

    Author Living Vicariously Thru Real Stars, Now Mostly Deceased W

    Author Living Vicariously Thru Real Stars, Now Mostly Deceased We've
    seen Langella on the stage, and on film, and he's a journeyman actor in
    most roles, pretty much a reliable actor, but not a star probably due to
    a lack of charisma. So it's interesting to see that he seems to agree
    with this assessment by publishing a book of short vignettes not about
    himself but about real stars he's met, known or worked with, people
    truly loved by audiences. In his view, Ellizabeth Taylor was lonely,
    Charlton Heston was pompous, Yul Brynner was manipulative, Deborah Kerr
    was a doormat, Richard Burton was moneygrubbing, Paul Newman was not a
    good actor (???), Alan Bates was a slave to work, Arthur Miller was
    detached... it goes on and on. Too many have a a chapter in the book,
    but nobody meets Mr. Langella's high regard for himself. You have to ask
    yourself, would Langella even appear as a footnote in a book by anyone
    listed in the table of contents here? Not likely, so he's living
    vicariously through them, much as anyone else might. So, let's turn the
    tables on Mr L - here's our Frank Langella story for what its worth - We
    went to see a Broadway play not too long ago. On taking our seats, we
    saw Mr L sitting across on the aisle with his legs hanging out in the
    aisle, for comfort, no doubt, as the theater was old and there was
    little legroom. The friend I was attending the play with is an actor and
    said, maybe we'll say hello to him at intermission. But, just before the
    first half curtain came down, Mr L ran away up the aisle. OK, we
    thought, but he'll certainly have the manners to sit through the curtain
    call at the end. Nope, again, he ran away before the cast took their
    well deserved bows. We wondered what was going on - was he too
    frightened to meet the public, the few who might recognize him? In need
    of a smoke? A bathroom break? Or maybe he hated the performances and
    could not bring himself to applaud. Well - the book sheds some light on
    this strange and rather rude behavior, as he refused to applaud Elia
    Kazan's honorary Oscar, but states that he sat in full view of Kazan on
    the occasion, not applauding. There's principle and then there's
    civility, and manners teach that it is so much better not to attend an
    event rather than attend and pointedly avoid acknowledging the person
    being honored. Sorry, we cannot recommend the book, and don't feel that
    learning how high a regard Langella has for himself was worth our time
    or money.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2012

    Thoughtful & Candid

    Yes, it's full of dishy stories of celebrities of another era, but over the course of reading Mr. Langella's retelling you do get a measure of his own character. On balance, he seems as candid in revealing parts of himself. I was fascinated by his fawning politeness to some of the greats he's met, as well as when he'd refuse to kowtow to arrogant actors regardless of their public image. I never forgot him in Diary of a Mad Housewife so it was fun to read the backstory on what was happening in his life at the time. And what a life he's had. An intense, great talent who's just a little less of a mystery.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2013

    Bitchy and self serving

    This is one of those biographies/autobiographies that leaves you disliking the subject rather than admiring him. According to Langella, anyone with legendary charisma was in fact a bore. Paul Newman was a bore, Cary Grant was a bore, ditto for Charlton Heston, Anthony Quinn, Yul Brynner, Oliver Reed, the list goes on. He liked Roddy McDowell just fine, though. Perhaps messrs. Newman Grant et. al. weren't overawed by this Broadway actor. A good many of the stories defy belief (Langella was pursued breathily by both Jacqueline Onassis and Liz Taylor - oh yeah, Rita Hayworth as well). Wish I hadn't read it, I used to like this actor.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2012

    Not recommended - total trash

    Shame on me for reading this book and shame on Frank Langella for writing it. He had nothing nice to say about anyone except for Alan Bates and Raul Julia and told stories that cannot now be denied or defended by these deceased celebrities. I never cared one way or other about Mr. Langella but now I can definitely say, "I am not a fan." Take the moral high ground, which I didn't, and don't waste your time or money on this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2012

    Ujd

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    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2012

    Hollywood Tidbits

    Individual chapters of famous people the author has had the opportunity to encounter. An easy read with some surprising personal tidbits on people we thought we knew. Refreshing, and written more as a friend to others.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2012

    Great read

    Frank Langella has worked and known most of the famous names of Broadway and Hollywood. In this book he writes about them truthfully. However, except for just one person, he only writes about those who have departed this world.

    His portraits are revealing but not mean-spirited. He just helps us understand that even the most famous are just human beings like the rest of us.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2012

    Loved this book could not put it down--

    I think Mr. Langella probably has another book of these kinds of remembrances. I'd lsove to read it!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2012

    I like Frank Langella as an actor, but his stories about famous

    I like Frank Langella as an actor, but his stories about famous people aren't interesting, entertaining, or well written. I kept waiting for a juicy nugget or two, but they never came. A real waste of time.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2012

    I would love to know what his subjects recall of him,if they eve

    I would love to know what his subjects recall of him,if they even remember him.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2012

    A lovely, witty, insightful book that blends juicy gossip with g

    A lovely, witty, insightful book that blends juicy gossip with genuine wisdom about life, aging, and relationships.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 16, 2012

    They all loved him....

    He was a winning person in many lives, so he writes. He has no trouble debasing most of the people who he identifies in this book. Most friends and acquaintances are disposable, dismissible, commodities. I was not impressed with his writing skills, his reflections of the times nor any depth of his character.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 5, 2012

    I was so looking forward to this read. But this is just a bashi

    I was so looking forward to this read. But this is just a bashing of famous folks most of whom are not here to defend themselves. Perhaps Mr Langella should look in the mirror. Better yet he should take an inventory what his friends may say about him when he is no longer with us.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    Yawn, another tell all by an a "B+" list actor bashing

    Yawn, another tell all by an a "B+" list actor bashing all the "A" list actors he was envious of. I read a bit from a friend who bought and decided it was trash. To each his own. If you are a fan of his, then you may enjoy.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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