Notes on a Cowardly Lion: The Biography of Bert Lahr, With a New Preface by the Author / Edition 1

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Overview

With a New Preface by the Author

First published in 1969, Notes on a Cowardly Lion has established itself as one of the best-ever show business biographies. Drawing on his father's recollections and on the memories of those who worked with him, John Lahr brilliantly examines the history of modern American show business through the long and glorious career of his father—the raucous low-comic star of burlesque, vaudeville, the Broadway revue and musical, Hollywood movies, and the legitimate stage. Here in rich detail is Lahr evolving from low—dialect comic to Ziegfeld Follies sophisticate, hamming it up with the Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman on the set of The Wizard of Oz, and debuting Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot in America, which Kenneth Tynan called "one of the most noble performances I have ever seen."
In the examination of Bert Lahr's chronic insecurity and self-absorption, the breakdown of his first marriage, and the affectionate arm's length he kept between himself and his adoring second family, John Lahr's book also brings the reader closer than any other theater biography to the private torment of a great funny man.

This edition of the book includes the award-winning essay "The Lion and Me," John Lahr's intimate reflections on family life with his distant, brooding, but lovable father. A first-class stylist, John Lahr takes the reader beyond the magic of show business to a dazzling examination of how a performing self is constructed and staged before the paying customers. Both as theater history and biography, Lahr's book is superb.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520223042
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/3/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 417
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Praised by the New York Times Book Review as "probably the most intelligent and insightful writer on the theater today," John Lahr has twice won the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, the last time for his work at the New Yorker, where he writes about theater and popular culture. Mr. Lahr has written sixteen books, among them the novels The Autograph Hound (1973) and Hot to Trot (1974); Light Fantastic: Adventures in Theater (1996), The Orton Diaries (editor, 1986), and Prick Up Your Ears: The Biography of Joe Orton (1978).

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Table of Contents

A Dramatic Chronology
Preface: The Lion and Me
From the Wings: An Introduction 3
1 Roots 10
2 Burlesque 40
3 Vaudeville: Lahr and Mercedes 64
4 Broadway Beginnings 97
5 Scandals and Follies 123
6 Buffooneries 150
7 Other Edens 170
8 "...But What Do I Do Next Year?" 202
9 Back to Broadway 227
10 Waiting for Godot 253
11 A Decade of Moments 283
12 Dad 326
13 A Beginning and an End 349
Epilogue 356
Appendices 357
Index 383
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