Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them

Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them

by Frank Langella

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062094490
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/02/2013
Pages: 363
Sales rank: 315,066
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About 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.

What People are Saying About This

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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Dropped Names 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
LaurenBDavis More than 1 year ago
An odd book. I began it with high expectations, since I find Langella to be an intelligent, highly skilled actor. What I've discovered by reading his memoir of now-dead famous friends and acquaintances, however, is that I don't think I like him very much; he's a little too cruel for my taste. Consider this about Roddy Mcdowell -- "I watched him work the room like a cordless vacuum cleaner, sucking up celebrity droppings." Or perhaps that's not fair. More accurately stated, I feel somewhat sorry for him. Reading between the lines here, he comes off as a very smart, somewhat insecure man with a dodgy semi-transparent sex life (there is a lot of slap and tickle in the book with famous women of all ages and, one suspects, a few tumbles--or at least exploratory sessions--with men) and a longing to be seen as both attractive and important, who regardless of accomplishments is dissatisfied and snarky. True, he does not escape his own criticism, but there's something about this parade of elderly, mostly drunken, sad, sick and lonely actors that left me feeling little more than pity for the entire profession. Many creative people feel this way, of course -- God knows I've met my fair share of writers who fit the bill. His prose his fine -- not brilliant writing, but it serves -- and he certainly does know a lot of famous folks, many of whom say clever, if unkind, things about each other. Still, I think I'll go back and watch his STUNNING performance in "Starting Our In The Evening." I prefer that Langella.
morganmad More than 1 year ago
This was really enjoyable. It's like sitting down and having a chat with the author over coffee, just reminiscing about people he's known. There were some people he liked and some he didn't and he stated very clearly why. There was NO bashing. Anyone who thinks this was an exercise in "bashing" anyone either didn't actually read the whole book or didn't understand it. This is clearly stated as one man's memories and experiences. And Langella is in no way, shape or form B list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What can I say about a man who says that Paul Newman is not a good actor? I would wager to say that Mr. Langella does think of himself as a good actor. The only thing I can remember seeing him in was Dracula, however I remember every perofrmance of Mr. Newman's that I have seen. He even says that Mr. Newman came to him admiring his acting and hints that Mr. Newman sought his advice!!!!!!!! OH MY GAWD!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are some good tidbits of information in this book. Often though things are quoted from a source listed as "an actress", "a source", "someone once said". I paid $8.00 for the book, including shipping, I think I got my money's worth.
Genoman More than 1 year ago
Mr. Langella is one of the finest actors living today. You get to be that way by your experiences. In this book are just SOME of those experiences. But what experiences they are! Here is Hollywood, the classic Hollywood unlike today, behind the scenes. Not 'behind the scenes' as in 'how this film was made' but 'behind the scenes' of those who made them. Behind the scenes of the carefully crafted public images. Who was really like their public image? Who wasn't? Who longed for the public image they once had? Here are some of the stage and screen's royalty as they are, unguarded, unvarnished before one of their own where they need not let their public image out of the box. This is a great book and a great read! Mr. Langella's writing is as if you were sitting across from him at dinner in his house having a conversation. You are enthralled and fascinated. It is a book that could only come by way of one of THE great actors of stage and screen in our time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to admit I didn't know who he was. I had to Google his picture. Had no idea he had been with Whoopi for 5 or so years. At first I was put off by his gravitation to celebrities and didn't believe that he had had such close associations with the likes of Jackie Kennedy and Bunny Mellon, but as his subsequent entries made convincing cross references to these associations, I started to believe him and came to change my perception of Mr. Langella. I found him to be very proud and individualistic, his own person, not to be bought by anyone, yet a man of heart and integrity. I liked him by the end. Glad I got to know him better through this book.
libraryrk More than 1 year ago
Shame on me for reading this book and shame on Frank Langella for writing it. He had nothing nice to say about anyone except for Alan Bates and Raul Julia and told stories that cannot now be denied or defended by these deceased celebrities. I never cared one way or other about Mr. Langella but now I can definitely say, "I am not a fan." Take the moral high ground, which I didn't, and don't waste your time or money on this book.
Iora More than 1 year ago
Yes, it's full of dishy stories of celebrities of another era, but over the course of reading Mr. Langella's retelling you do get a measure of his own character. On balance, he seems as candid in revealing parts of himself. I was fascinated by his fawning politeness to some of the greats he's met, as well as when he'd refuse to kowtow to arrogant actors regardless of their public image. I never forgot him in Diary of a Mad Housewife so it was fun to read the backstory on what was happening in his life at the time. And what a life he's had. An intense, great talent who's just a little less of a mystery.
jononfire More than 1 year ago
First of all, this work is totally enthralling...as what wouldn't be, if it digs up new dirt, full of worms, about top celebrities, now all deceased (but known first-hand), with the sharpest of spades. Note the words "new" and "all deceased": most of the dirt is new, and the fact that the bodies are safely below ground is troublesomely underhanded, no? But I can almost hear Langella cackling over his cleverness while under his breath. The pages turn like wildfire as one races to get to the punchlines. You're rarely quite sure where anyone stands in his esteem until you reach the end of a character sketch, and as often as not, that standing is something of a non-sequitur from what's gone before. In retrospect, I wouldn't have missed this book for the world, but its conception is somewhat despicable. And full of resentment, I suspect, from a not-quite-A-list actor, whose aura for me has always had an element of the sleaze (like anyone, I'm not 100 o/o free of bias). He tries unsuccessfully to cover his ego with elegant chicanery, and there's some discomfort for the reader in the way he relates how he asked several of his subjects, out of the blue, about their sexual bents and experiences, while elsewhere boasting subtly about his own, through several marriages and many heterosexual affairs which somehow don't seem to tell the whole story. He could have had the aging, lonely, vulnerable Liz Taylor at will, you gather, but....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of those biographies/autobiographies that leaves you disliking the subject rather than admiring him. According to Langella, anyone with legendary charisma was in fact a bore. Paul Newman was a bore, Cary Grant was a bore, ditto for Charlton Heston, Anthony Quinn, Yul Brynner, Oliver Reed, the list goes on. He liked Roddy McDowell just fine, though. Perhaps messrs. Newman Grant et. al. weren't overawed by this Broadway actor. A good many of the stories defy belief (Langella was pursued breathily by both Jacqueline Onassis and Liz Taylor - oh yeah, Rita Hayworth as well). Wish I hadn't read it, I used to like this actor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Author Living Vicariously Thru Real Stars, Now Mostly Deceased We've seen Langella on the stage, and on film, and he's a journeyman actor in most roles, pretty much a reliable actor, but not a star probably due to a lack of charisma. So it's interesting to see that he seems to agree with this assessment by publishing a book of short vignettes not about himself but about real stars he's met, known or worked with, people truly loved by audiences. In his view, Ellizabeth Taylor was lonely, Charlton Heston was pompous, Yul Brynner was manipulative, Deborah Kerr was a doormat, Richard Burton was moneygrubbing, Paul Newman was not a good actor (???), Alan Bates was a slave to work, Arthur Miller was detached... it goes on and on. Too many have a a chapter in the book, but nobody meets Mr. Langella's high regard for himself. You have to ask yourself, would Langella even appear as a footnote in a book by anyone listed in the table of contents here? Not likely, so he's living vicariously through them, much as anyone else might. So, let's turn the tables on Mr L - here's our Frank Langella story for what its worth - We went to see a Broadway play not too long ago. On taking our seats, we saw Mr L sitting across on the aisle with his legs hanging out in the aisle, for comfort, no doubt, as the theater was old and there was little legroom. The friend I was attending the play with is an actor and said, maybe we'll say hello to him at intermission. But, just before the first half curtain came down, Mr L ran away up the aisle. OK, we thought, but he'll certainly have the manners to sit through the curtain call at the end. Nope, again, he ran away before the cast took their well deserved bows. We wondered what was going on - was he too frightened to meet the public, the few who might recognize him? In need of a smoke? A bathroom break? Or maybe he hated the performances and could not bring himself to applaud. Well - the book sheds some light on this strange and rather rude behavior, as he refused to applaud Elia Kazan's honorary Oscar, but states that he sat in full view of Kazan on the occasion, not applauding. There's principle and then there's civility, and manners teach that it is so much better not to attend an event rather than attend and pointedly avoid acknowledging the person being honored. Sorry, we cannot recommend the book, and don't feel that learning how high a regard Langella has for himself was worth our time or money.
Mshall More than 1 year ago
I would love to know what his subjects recall of him,if they even remember him.
brittbus More than 1 year ago
He was a winning person in many lives, so he writes. He has no trouble debasing most of the people who he identifies in this book. Most friends and acquaintances are disposable, dismissible, commodities. I was not impressed with his writing skills, his reflections of the times nor any depth of his character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author seems overly critical of everyone. He is an obvious closet case who has been blessed with good looks and the ability to act.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Individual chapters of famous people the author has had the opportunity to encounter. An easy read with some surprising personal tidbits on people we thought we knew. Refreshing, and written more as a friend to others.
maginnisone More than 1 year ago
Frank Langella has worked and known most of the famous names of Broadway and Hollywood. In this book he writes about them truthfully. However, except for just one person, he only writes about those who have departed this world. His portraits are revealing but not mean-spirited. He just helps us understand that even the most famous are just human beings like the rest of us.
craso on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This book is an alluring look into the world of the theater and the privileged. Frank Langella has worked as an actor for five decades. He relates stories about the charismatic writers, directors and actors he has meet during his career. Mr. Langella has also been friends with some of the wealthiest people in America. Each chapter is about a relationship with a different person. The author only writes about people who have passed away or people who have allowed him to write about there association. I don't know very much about theater actors and I had to google some of the names. It would have been nice to have pictures in the book to associate with the names. Other subjects were more well known. I wasn't surprised by Mr. Langella's description of the people I had already heard of. He wrote about divas, closeted homosexuals, narcissistic personalities, and lonely alcoholics as well as generous nobel people who profoundly altered his life. Some chapters were very poignant, particularly the one devoted to President Kennedy. This was an engaging quick read and I recommend it to fans of the New York theater and those interested in the lifestyles of the rich.
latorreliliana on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Witty,well written gossip of famous people
Laura400 on LibraryThing 11 months ago
A fun memoir to read. Langella is a laser-sharp observer, an enthusiastic gossip and an excellent and unsparing writer. We are the beneficiaries of his long acting career and active social life, since the people he encounters and writes about are mostly household names. While he sketches only the bare details of his own life, enough of his prickly personality comes through to give a sense of perspective.The book is presented as short portraits of people Langella has met or worked with, from Rita Hayworth to Jack and Jackie Kennedy, making it great fun to pick up and leaf through. An excellent format.One senses, through his own candid admissions and hints, that he would be a terrible husband or client, but a fun friend or dinner guest. Similarly this book is fun to read, but it doesn't leave you delighted with the author. A brave feat, really.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed reading about some of my favorite actors, sometimes sad (Alan Bates, Raul Julia, Paul Newman), others funny (Charlton Heston). Loved learning more about Mr Langella, of whom I've been a fan of since "Dracula" (loved him, the movie not so much). I highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the Hollywood of yesteryear.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I throughly enjoyed this book. I’m 76 and it was great to learn more about the people that I shared my life with on the big screen, little scream and stage. We are all human after all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I usually read reviews before I make a purchase, but for some reason I didn't and wished I had. If you read between the lines, I'm not sure if any of these dropped names were really friends of his. I was uncomfortable with the fact that the vast majority of the people he spoke negatively of are no longer with us. Seems to come from someone who is insecure. Shame on him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love gossip and this book seemed more the authors opinion