A Hell of a Life: An Autobiography

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Celebrity or not, Maureen Stapleton is a true "actor's actor," beloved and revered by her fellow performers. Among these colleagues, however, her persona is as celebrated as her talent. In a business full of characters, she is known for her brilliant acting, great heart, undying loyalty, quick wit, excessive drinking, impetuous ill-fated love affairs, and gift for profanity. She is a classic, one of the finest actresses America has ever produced. She created the starring roles in such Tennessee Williams plays as ...
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Overview

Celebrity or not, Maureen Stapleton is a true "actor's actor," beloved and revered by her fellow performers. Among these colleagues, however, her persona is as celebrated as her talent. In a business full of characters, she is known for her brilliant acting, great heart, undying loyalty, quick wit, excessive drinking, impetuous ill-fated love affairs, and gift for profanity. She is a classic, one of the finest actresses America has ever produced. She created the starring roles in such Tennessee Williams plays as The Rose Tattoo and Orpheus Descending, and has appeared in the works of just about every other outstanding American playwright of recent memory, including Neil Simon, William Inge, Arthur Miller, and Lillian Hellman. She has appeared in many films, including the screen adaptation of Neil Simon's Plaza Suite and Warren Beatty's production of Reds, for which she won the Academy Award. Alas, triumphs on stage and screen have not always been matched on the personal front, a reality about which she is startlingly forthcoming. She is particularly blunt when it comes to her tumultuous love life. Indeed, Neil Simon is alleged to have taken chunks of Maureen's own experience and fashioned it into The Gingerbread Lady, a play about an alcoholic entertainer trying to deal with recovery, a younger lover, and a teenage daughter. What lifts the play well above soap opera is the incredible humor, and it is that same humor that pervades Maureen Stapleton's life. She is one funny lady. She has also been blessed with some of the most interesting - and loyal - friends anyone could hope to read about. Her autobiography is filled with stories about such legends as Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Marilyn Monroe, Lillian Hellman, and Sir Laurence Olivier, to name a few. But at the heart of it, of course, is Maureen Stapleton, the little girl from a broken yet devoutly Catholic home in Troy, New York, who loved the movies and loved the stage, who came to Ne

This intimate, earthy, outrageously blunt memoir by one of the legendary stars of American theater and film is packed with anecdotes about many of Stapleton's associates, including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Olivier, and Marlon Brando. Told in a voice so direct that it is startling, this compelling biography will be a revelation even to those who know this funny lady best. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Stapleton (b. 1925) has enjoyed a long career as a character actress and has won every award in sight: Oscar, Tony, Emmy. Her memoir, written with Scovell, covers her starstruck girlhood, her Broadway debut in 1946 and her charter membership in the Actor's Studio and offers insights into her art in such roles as Serafina (The Rose Tattoo). Along the way she talks candidly about her friendship with Marilyn Monroe, her struggle to save Montgomery Clift from self-destruction, the emotional dues she paid to appear in Tennessee Williams's plays and the essential difference between stage and screen acting. Much of the book deals with her multiple health problems, which have included alcoholism, pill addiction and several phobias. One of the most intriguing sections concerns her May-December romance with legendary Broadway director George Abbott (``the object of my greatest passion'') when she was in her 40s and he in his 80s. Stapleton is a woman with a large talent, a short fuse and a bawdy sense of humor, and her helluva life will interest many readers. (Sept.)
Library Journal
"It was I who found Maureen Stapleton," Tennessee Williams would later say, referring to his casting of the young unknown in his new play, The Rose Tattoo. Soon after, Williams's discovery became an award-winning star of theater, film, and television. Now, in this charming, gritty, and informative autobiography, Stapleton tells her life story, from her difficult childhood in Troy, New York, to her latest work as a 70-year-old actress. The reader gets full accounts of life within the famed Actor's Studio as well as a social history of 50 years of show biz. The style is direct, and the anecdotes lend the feel of a monolog by a fascinating cocktail party guest who happens to be one of America's finest actresses. Recommended for public libraries and libraries with theater collections.Lisa Johnston, Sweet Briar Coll., Va.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684810928
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 8/1/1995
  • Pages: 285
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.59 (h) x 1.04 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2000

    Maureen Stapleton's Honest and Earthy Book on Her Life

    This book, which I have just purchased, is so marvelous and entertaining. Funny and yet, very sad at times. I know Maureen personally and she is everything they say when the words warmhearted, excellent actress, good mother and unpretentious are used. She's a wonderful lady with a dry wit and fabulous sense of humor. My family and I just adore her!

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