The Biograph Girl

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Guide to New Fiction
"Whatever Happened to Baby Flo?" A "great" roller-coaster ride through the 20th century, led by a 107-year-old actress named Florence Lawrence. Blending fact with fiction, award-winning author Mann reimagines "Baby Flo, The Child Wonder Whistler" from her vaudeville childhood to the snowy Bronx back lot where she shot her first motion picture. "A well-done combination of fact and fiction." "If you're a fan of Biography, this is a book for you!" "Two thumbs up!" "An outstanding book and a must-read."
Robert L. Pela
The Biograph Girl provides not only a good yarn but also an impressively researched piece of film history and a compelling glimpse at early 20th-century America.
The Advocate
Kirkus Reviews
Skillfully blending facts, fancy, and a vision of the earliest days of moviemaking, the artful Mann (Wisecracker, 1998, etc.) resurrects the first movie star as a hot-ticket 107-year-old discovered in a Catholic nursing home in Buffalo by twin brothers who promptly start fighting over her to further their own agendas. In reality, Florence Lawrence was the Biograph Girl, cinema's brightest star, by 1910, and a suicide by 1938. Here, she's a sharp-witted, caftan-clothed, chain-smoking centenarian named Flo, stumbled upon by freelance journalist Richard Sheehan when the man he was supposed to interview in the home turns out to have just died. Captivated by her, Richard wants her story, but the first tantalizing clues that she's the Biograph Girl run up against the seemingly insurmountable fact of her having committed suicide. While Richard's sleuthing eventually gets the LAPD involved, with the result that the body in Florence Lawrence's Hollywood grave is exhumed, his idealistic documentary filmmaker brother Ben also takes an interest in Flo, spurred on by the sympathetic nun in charge of the home, who sees in Ben's eyes the eyes of her former lover. Ben's high-powered agent catches wind of Flo's mysterious and glamorous past, along with the scandal surrounding her at present, and suddenly Ben is having a script greenlighted by Hollywood's biggest mogul—on the condition that he can tease the truth from the reluctant Flo and turn it into docudrama. Will Ben sell out? Will Richard save Flo from his brother? Will forcing Flo to confront the shadows in her past be the end of her? For all the camp and melodrama, a finely detailed andsatisfyinglycomplicated mystery, aided in its allure by several characters simultaneously coming to terms with how they came to be who they are.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781575665597
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 6/1/2000
  • Pages: 457
  • Product dimensions: 6.29 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.52 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2002

    good at parts, surprising ending

    this is a semi-interesting book. it never captured my full attention though. chapters labelled, 'the present' are dull half of the time, but the past is done very well. the ending was very unexpected and made up for all of the its flaws

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent drama

    By 1910 Florence 'Baby Flo' Lawrence was the first superstar of cinema. Everyone wanted a piece of the BIOGRAPH GIRL. However, her meteoric rise was only matched by the speed of her descent, as Baby Flo was a quick has-been, who occasionally got bit parts in films. In 1938, she regained the headlines when she committed suicide. <P> Almost six decades later, Richard and Ben Sheehan discover that Baby Flo never died. Instead, she is alive and well, living in Buffalo. The ambitious twins see Flo Bridgewood as a means of gaining fame and fortune, but as rivals and not as a team. If Ms. Bridgewood is in deed the BIOGRAPH GIRL than who is the individual buried in her coffin and why did she execute her fake death? <P> THE BIOGRAPH GIRL is a strange, but well written historical fiction work centering on a real person, movie's first star Florence Lawrence, who killed herself in 1938. The story line is fascinating for its wonderful glimpse into Baby Flo and, as a bonus, contains a compelling mystery. The siblings are an entertaining duo who are part snake oil and part charm. Anyone who enjoys a novel focusing on Hollywood past and present will devour William J. Mann's homage to a forgotten silent film star. <P>Harriet Klausner

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