Gloria Swanson: Ready for Her Close-Up

Gloria Swanson: Ready for Her Close-Up

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by Tricia Welsch
     
 

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Gloria Swanson: Ready for Her Close-Up shows how a talented, self-confident actress negotiated a creative path through seven decades of celebrity. It also illuminates a little-known chapter in American media history: how the powerful women of early Hollywood transformed their remarkable careers after their stars dimmed. This book brings Swanson (1899

Overview

Gloria Swanson: Ready for Her Close-Up shows how a talented, self-confident actress negotiated a creative path through seven decades of celebrity. It also illuminates a little-known chapter in American media history: how the powerful women of early Hollywood transformed their remarkable careers after their stars dimmed. This book brings Swanson (1899-1983) back into the spotlight, revealing her as a complex, creative, entrepreneurial, and thoroughly modern woman.

Swanson cavorted in slapstick short films with Charlie Chaplin and Mack Sennett in the 1910s. The popularity of her films with Cecil B. DeMille helped create the star system. A glamour icon, Swanson became the most talked-about star in Hollywood, earning three Academy Award nominations, receiving 10,000 fan letters every week, and living up to a reputation as Queen of Hollywood. She bought mansions and penthouses, dressed in fur and feathers, and flitted through Paris, London, and New York engaging in passionate love affairs that made headlines and caused scandals.

Frustrated with the studio system, Swanson turned down a million-dollar-a-year contract. After a wild ride making unforgettable movies with some of Hollywood's most colorful characters—including her lover Joseph Kennedy and maverick director Erich von Stroheim—she was a million dollars in debt. Without hesitation she went looking for her next challenge, beginning her long second act.

Swanson became a talented businesswoman who patented inventions and won fashion awards for her clothing designs; a natural foods activist decades before it was fashionable; an exhibited sculptor; and a designer employed by the United Nations. All the while she continued to act in films, theater, and television at home and abroad. Though she had one of Hollywood's most famous exit lines—"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up"—the real Gloria Swanson never looked back.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

”I am so glad that Gloria Swanson is at last receiving the attention she deserves.”

—Kevin Brownlow, author of The Parade’s Gone By. . ., filmmaker, and Academy Award recipient for his contributions to film scholarship and film preservation

“If Gloria Swanson was ready for her close-up, Tricia Welsch proves more than ready to take it. Drawing from an astonishing array of materials, Welsch deftly shows that there was much, much more to Swanson than the silent era’s most glamorous (and fashionable) female star or the Norma Desmond vampire of Sunset Boulevard. Gloria Swanson: Ready for Her Close-Up provides a lively, deft, and full account of Swanson’s pioneering career and personal life, both of which were informed by a spirit of constant, intrepid reinvention. Welsch has given us the definitive biography of one of the major figures of the performing arts in the twentieth century.”

—Matthew H. Bernstein, author of Walter Wanger, Hollywood Independent

“Gloria Swanson was, beyond doubt, the brightest star in Hollywood’s glittering firmament for many decades, beginning in the era of silent films, continuing well into the postwar period. To a surprising degree, she understood and manipulated the idea of celebrity with an almost incalculable sense of entrepreneurship, managing to survive in a medium challenged, then as now, by rapid technological shifts. Tricia Welsch shows us why the whole world loved her in this sparky, intelligent, and deeply researched biography. A brilliant study of this iconic figure.”

—Jay Parini, author of The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy’s Final Year

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781617037504
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
Publication date:
08/21/2013
Series:
Hollywood Legends Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
480
File size:
9 MB

Related Subjects

Meet the Author


Tricia Welsch, Brunswick, Maine, is associate professor on the Marvin H. Green, Jr., Fund and chair of the film studies program at Bowdoin College. Her work has appeared in Cinema Journal, the Journal of Popular Film and Television, Film Quarterly, Film Criticism, the Journal of Film and Video, the Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Griffithiana, and Genre.

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Gloria Swanson: Ready for Her Close-Up 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing biography - the ultimate - that makes very extensive use of Swanson’s letters. Through these private documents the reader really gets to hear Swanson's voice and read what she was really thinking at the time. Welsh has done a tremendous job, and though she herself is an academic this book is very readable. Not only is the text great, but everything about this book is high quality from the paper to the photographs. It was a pleasure to hold and read. Anyone interested in Swanson or silent film should read this book – even experts will learn a lot. I only wish it was longer!