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Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir

Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir

by Piper Laurie
Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir

Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir

by Piper Laurie



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An intimate memoir by three-time Oscar nominee Piper Laurie, one of Hollywood's most gifted and respected actresses

At the age of seventeen, in the glory days of movie-making, Piper Laurie was living every little girl’s dream. Having been selected by Universal Studios to be a contract star, Piper was removed from her acting class and provided with stylists, chaperones, leading roles, and handsome dates, and elevated to the heights of Hollywood. Her beauty was admired by the likes of Ronald Reagan, Howard Hughes, Paul Newman, Tony Curtis, as well as dozens of directors and legions of fans. Her name was emblazoned on marquees across America for hit movies of the fifties such as the The Prince Who Was a Thief, The Mississippi Gambler, and Ain’t Misbehavin’.

But Piper discovered early on that the little girl’s dream was not her own. Mortified by the shallowness of the roles and movies she was given, she longed for the freedom and fulfillment of her own artistic vision. After years in the studio system, shy Piper Laurie found her voice and the courage to burn her contract. It was only after she left the oppressive studio culture that she began to star in the TV shows, plays, and films that truly became the hallmarks of her career: The Glass Menagerie on Broadway, the original Days of Wine and RosesThe Hustler, the iconic Carrie, and Twin Peaks. She grew into a three-time Oscar-nominated actress, an accomplished sculptor, and a director. 

This memoir is the inspiring tale of Piper’s perseverance to break from tradition and to practice her craft at the highest level. She started life as a withdrawn, mute child who couldn’t find her voice and was transformed into a woman who learned to live out loud by her own rules.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780823026777
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/01/2011
Sold by: Random House
Format: eBook
Pages: 368
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

PIPER LAURIE (born Rosetta Jacobs) has performed in a hundred films and dozens of plays. She has been nominated three times for an Oscar and received an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award. She was honored as Harvard’s Woman of the Year and with the Spirit of Hope Award for her many trips to entertain the troops in Korea. Her film credits include The Hustler, Carrie, The Grass Harp, Tim, and Children of a Lesser God. She is also well remembered for her dual roles as Catherine Martell and the Japanese businessman in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. She lives in Los Angeles. 

Read an Excerpt

One evening I received a new script from Universal. My last movie had been Ain’t Misbehavin’, in which I’d been horribly miscast. I was told the reviews were punishing. Many times through the years, my agents and I had tried to change the structure of my contract, giving me some freedom to do other things. But they would not budge. Still, I was ever hopeful. 

I read the new script. This one wasn’t even a B western. It was a C western. The male star would be Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II. He was a genuine hero, had a likable natural presence on the screen, and had become a Universal movie star, playing the lead in many movies. The woman’s part was a prop and just barely that, possibly the worst part they had ever handed me. I suddenly felt so deeply insulted, so unappreciated, so mortally wounded. This time they had gone too far. I calmly got up, walked over to the fireplace, and dropped their script into the flames. With it went a little of the humiliation I had endured in the last five years. Something was coming alive in me. 

—From Chapter 8, “Burning the Contract”

Table of Contents

Preface 9

1 Home 13

2 Mother 43

3 The Real Thing 71

4 Breaking Me In 106

5 About the World 142

6 Becoming Movie Stars 178

7 Gaining Independence 216

8 Burning the Contract 262

9 A Difficult Actress 298

10 The Twenty-fifth Day 335

11 Days of Wine and Roses 367

12 Joe 420

13 Woodstock 465

14 Carrie 494

15 The Great Years 529

16 Peaks and Valleys 553

17 Surprises 582

18 Zero Hour 624

Acknowledgments 633

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