Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips

Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips

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by Michael G. Ankerich
     
 

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Mae Murray (1885—1965), popularly known as "the girl with the bee-stung lips," was a fiery presence in silent-era Hollywood. Renowned for her classic beauty and charismatic presence, she rocketed to stardom as a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies, moving across the country to star in her first film, To Have and to Hold, in 1916. An instant hit with

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Overview

Mae Murray (1885—1965), popularly known as "the girl with the bee-stung lips," was a fiery presence in silent-era Hollywood. Renowned for her classic beauty and charismatic presence, she rocketed to stardom as a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies, moving across the country to star in her first film, To Have and to Hold, in 1916. An instant hit with audiences, Murray soon became one of the most famous names in Tinseltown.

However, Murray's moment in the spotlight was fleeting. The introduction of talkies, a string of failed marriages, a serious career blunder, and a number of bitter legal battles left the former star in a state of poverty and mental instability that she would never overcome.

In this intriguing biography, Michael G. Ankerich traces Murray's career from the footlights of Broadway to the klieg lights of Hollywood, recounting her impressive body of work on the stage and screen and charting her rapid ascent to fame and decline into obscurity. Featuring exclusive interviews with Murray's only son, Daniel, and with actor George Hamilton, whom the actress closely befriended at the end of her life, Ankerich restores this important figure in early film to the limelight.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
If one silent-film superstar personifies the iconic Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson of Sunset Boulevard), it would be Mae Murray. Beautiful, talented, vain, glamorous, famous, and infamous: Murray, with her "bee-stung lips," had one of the great faces of the silent era. Beginning her career as a dancer on Broadway in the early 1910s, Murray made an easy transition from the Ziegfeld Follies into film and found great success and stardom that lasted throughout the silent era. The arrival of sound film, along with an unfortunate marriage and bad career decisions, led to the inevitable fading of Murray's star—a common Hollywood story. Murray herself, however, was very uncommon. Ankerich (Broken Silence: Conversations with 23 Silent Film Stars) has managed to capture lightning in a bottle, piercing the fog of time and faded memories to create a compelling and haunting biography of one of film's long-forgotten lights. VERDICT In what will surely become the actress's definitive biography, Ankerich captures a glittering, elusive Murray, who lived in a self-created bubble of everlasting fame and who spun faster and faster until one day "she was gone." Recommended for all fans of silent film and Old Hollywood glamour.—Teri Shiel, Westfield State Univ. Lib., MA
From the Publisher
"A most compelling, detailed chronicle of the meteoric rise and fall of stage/silent movie star Mae Murray, as to both her roller-coaster professional career and chaotic personal life. This book will certainly be the definitive biography of the legendary Mae Murray." — James Robert Parish, author of Fiasco: A History of Hollywood's Iconic Flops

"Her long life is a lesson about those heady days of early Hollywood and the transience of fame." — Library Journal

"Michael G. Ankerich has written the first entirely reliable narrative of her life in Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips." — Milwaukee Express

"Michael Ankerich, in this always interesting biography, suggests that, tragically, the story may be apocryphal." — Wall Street Journal

"As a document of her life, the book left me satisfied and thoroughly in love with Ms. Murray." — Classic Movies

"Ankerich captures a glittering, elusive Murrary, who lived in a self-created bubble of everlasting fame and who spun faster and faster until one day "she was gone." — Library Journal

"Ankerich does his research and brings to life not only a forgotten big screen star but also the time in which she lived.... This is a well written... and still relevant biography and is a must for every movie buff." — Past in Review

"This book is [astounding]. Mr. Ankerich must have spent decades researching this fantastic volume. He not only gives us the truth of of Ms. Murray's youth, but reveals why she opted to spiral into the weird lifestyle she inhabited." — Examiner

"Murray was unable to mount the comeback she pursued during the final years of her life but hopefully, this meticulously researched, crisply written new book will at least reestablish the work and talent of this remarkable woman." — Tucson Citizen

"It's nice to see a film fan analyze a star he loves in such an unobject way." — Journeys in Classic Film

"If Billy Wilder hasn't made the definitive movie about the delusions of stardom in Sunset Boulevard, Murray's story, a blend of absurdity and pathos, would make a terrific one." — Washington Post

Kirkus Reviews
An extensively researched look at the life of silent-movie star Mae Murray (1885–1965). Ankerich (Broken Silence: Conversations with 23 Silent Film Stars, 2011, etc.) structures this biography chronologically, beginning with Murray's birth to poor German immigrants in New York City's Lower East Side. As an adult, Murray offered little to no factual details about her childhood, shrouding "her own birth date and her early years in a veil of secrecy." Early on, she lost her father to alcohol-related complications; before she was 18, she cut off all contact with her mother and her brothers, one of whom showed up years later demanding money and threatening to reveal Murray's sordid family story to the press if she didn't pay up. Passionate about dancing, the teenage Murray lingered around stage doors and got her start in theater, dancing and singing. Ankerich tracks Murray's multiple failed marriages and her lucrative career in Hollywood, including the dramatic back stories of such films as The Merry Widow. Her penchant for hiding the truth about her life revealed itself yet again when she secretly gave birth to a son in 1926. Five months later, despite her love for the man she described as her "soul mate," Rudy Valentino, Murray wed David Mdivani, an aspiring filmmaker who falsely identified himself as a Georgian prince. Shortly thereafter, Valentino died, leaving Murray devastated. Her marriage to Mdivani unraveled with endless fighting and a custody dispute as Murray struggled with financial problems that would plague her for the rest of her life. In 1965, she died of a stroke. Ankerich's studied biography leaves no stone unturned, and he integrates hundreds of quotations and sources, grounding Murray's life with fascinating facts. Will appeal to film buffs and readers interested in the rise and burnout of long-ago Hollywood stars.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813140384
Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
Publication date:
11/12/2012
Series:
Screen Classics
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
392
File size:
5 MB

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