Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them

Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them

3.4 49
by Frank Langella
     
 

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Rita Hayworth dancing by candlelight; Elizabeth Taylor tenderly wrapping him in her Pashmina scarf; streaking for Sir Laurence Olivier in a drafty English castle; terrifying a dozing Jackie Onassis; carrying an unconscious Montgomery Clift to safety on a dark New York street...

Captured forever in a unique memoir, Frank Langella’s myriad encounters with

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Overview

Rita Hayworth dancing by candlelight; Elizabeth Taylor tenderly wrapping him in her Pashmina scarf; streaking for Sir Laurence Olivier in a drafty English castle; terrifying a dozing Jackie Onassis; carrying an unconscious Montgomery Clift to safety on a dark New York street...

Captured forever in a unique memoir, Frank Langella’s myriad encounters with some of the past century’s most famous human beings are profoundly affecting, funny, wicked, sometimes shocking, and utterly irresistible. With sharp wit and a perceptive eye, Mr. Langella takes us with him into the private worlds and privileged lives of movie stars, presidents, royalty, literary lions, the social elite, and the greats of the Broadway stage. We learn something, too, of Mr. Langella’s personal journey from the age of fifteen to the present day. Dropped Names is, like its subjects, riveting and unforgettable.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Tony and Drama Desk award winner Langella doesn't so much tell his own story as relate encounters with others—and not just theater folks like Elizabeth Taylor and Laurence Olivier but John F. Kennedy, William Styron, Brooke Astor, and more. Fun for all.
Kirkus Reviews
Stage and screen stalwart Langella recalls his encounters with celebrity, both in and out of the spotlight. Early on in this engaging memoir, the author notes his difficulty in conveying the "glory" of a chapter's subject, Noel Coward, to a contemporary audience, "as wit, intelligence, and style have lost ground to stupid, vulgar, and loud." Curmudgeonly tone aside, Langella's stories of 65 noteworthy people illustrate his point that the celebrities of today can't hold a candle to the distant, mysterious, shining lights of yesteryear. The book is organized into a separate chapter for each "dropped name," in chronological order of their death. Among those appearing, some in brief encounters, others in lifelong relationships, are many of film and theater's greatest, including Laurence Olivier, Robert Mitchum, Elizabeth Taylor and Rita Hayworth, to name just a few. Freed up, perhaps, to kiss and tell by the death of his subjects, Langella pulls no punches, expressing scorn for talent wasted (Richard Burton) and egotism misplaced (Anthony Quinn, Actors Studio guru Lee Strasberg), and providing scandalous detail on many on-set or backstage dalliances. Some of the stories are humorous, others fascinating, and some--notably the section on Hayworth--heartbreaking. Though often relegated to a supporting role in these stories, Langella's voice commands the reader's attention. However, he does not ignore his own flaws, including moments when his arrogance let him down or his ignorance led to humiliation. Through it all, the author's respect for the craft of acting and those who attempt to practice it at the highest level is evident, and his focus on the importance of real connection between not just actor and audience but between human beings, elevates the book above mere name-dropping. Not just Langella's "famous people I have known," but a heartfelt love letter to the theater and to the days when stars were stars, not merely celebrities.
Charles Matthews
On the face of it, this is a popcorn book: one to be dipped into for gossipy goodies. Who can resist flipping through it to see what Langella has to say about Jackie O. or Princess Di? But the book gains richness and depth by being taken as a whole, as a revelation that fame turns everyone…politicians…royalty…writers …and socialites…into actors, strutting and fretting their hour upon the stage.
—The Washington Post
Ada Calhoun
…satisfyingly scandalous…Langella is as enthusiastic as he is vicious…the book's stylistic imperfections add to the sense that you're reading the uncensored diary of an indefatigably social and curious man, a modern-entertainment-industry Samuel Pepys. Narcissistic? Sure. He grants that he was especially "selfish and obstreperous" in his youth. But he's inspiringly game…There is so much happy sexuality in this book that reading it is like being flirted with for a whole party by the hottest person in the room. It's no wonder Langella was invited everywhere.
—The New York Times Book Review
The New Yorker
“Splendid. . . . As much a memoir as a primer on the vicissitudes of an actor’s life, the book is a collage based on real-life situations that offer touching insights into stars like Rita Hayworth, and into the practical magic that informs Langella’s signature sensibility.”
Detroit Free Press
“ If Frank Langella’s memoir simply did what its title promises, it would be deep-dish gossip. But his memories of the stars he’s encountered during a lengthy career on Broadway and in film shed perceptive light on the costs of pursuing and maintaining fame.”
New York Times
“Langella’s uncommonly eloquent book is enjoyable for the panoply of great names who turn up. . . . A natural raconteur, he seems to fit precisely Henry James’s famous description of the novelist as one ‘on whom nothing is lost.’”
Los Angeles Times
“Frank Langella’s DROPPED NAMES is a different kind of memoir. . . . Not many of his peers could write such an eloquently dishy book.”
Paperback Row
“The 65 chapters in this satisfyingly scandalous memoir paint Broadway and Hollywood as teeming with vulgar, neurotic and irresistible company, and Langella as relentlessly affable in the face of nonstop groping by celebrities in far-flung locations.”
A. R. Gurney
“A delightfully unabashed page-turner about people we wish we had known in the throes of work, love, and growing old.”
Gay Talese
“Rarely have I read a book about celebrities that is as insightful, candid, revealing, and as well-written as this one. Frank Langella’s memoir is not the usual author’s ego trip, but rather his remembrances of the many accomplished men and women that he has come to know.”
A.R. Gurney
“A delightfully unabashed page-turner about people we wish we had known in the throes of work, love, and growing old.”
Liz Smith
“Dropped Names is a sizzling platter of stellar vignettes—pungent, for sure, but poignant too. . . . Mr. Langella is surgically precise, and eloquent. . . . The human condition in most of its vagaries is beautifully rendered between these pages.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062094476
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/27/2012
Pages:
356
Sales rank:
1,533,601
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.06(h) x 1.18(d)

Meet the Author

Frank Langella has been a professional actor for over five decades and hopes to carry on for several more. He began performing as a boy in his hometown of Bayonne, New Jersey, and currently resides in New York City. This is his first book.

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