A Hell of a Life: An Autobiography

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Simon & Schuster, 1995 - Biography & Autobiography - 285 pages
Celebrity or not, Maureen Stapleton is a true "actor's actor," beloved and revered by her fellow performers. Among these colleagues, however, her persona is as celebrated as her talent. In a business full of characters, she is known for her brilliant acting, great heart, undying loyalty, quick wit, excessive drinking, impetuous ill-fated love affairs, and gift for profanity. She is a classic, one of the finest actresses America has ever produced. She created the starring roles in such Tennessee Williams plays as The Rose Tattoo and Orpheus Descending, and has appeared in the works of just about every other outstanding American playwright of recent memory, including Neil Simon, William Inge, Arthur Miller, and Lillian Hellman. She has appeared in many films, including the screen adaptation of Neil Simon's Plaza Suite and Warren Beatty's production of Reds, for which she won the Academy Award. Alas, triumphs on stage and screen have not always been matched on the personal front, a reality about which she is startlingly forthcoming. She is particularly blunt when it comes to her tumultuous love life. Indeed, Neil Simon is alleged to have taken chunks of Maureen's own experience and fashioned it into The Gingerbread Lady, a play about an alcoholic entertainer trying to deal with recovery, a younger lover, and a teenage daughter. What lifts the play well above soap opera is the incredible humor, and it is that same humor that pervades Maureen Stapleton's life. She is one funny lady. She has also been blessed with some of the most interesting - and loyal - friends anyone could hope to read about. Her autobiography is filled with stories about such legends as Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Marilyn Monroe, Lillian Hellman, and Sir Laurence Olivier, to name a few. But at the heart of it, of course, is Maureen Stapleton, the little girl from a broken yet devoutly Catholic home in Troy, New York, who loved the movies and loved the stage, who came to New York City to pursue her dream of someday meeting Joel McCrea.

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A HELL OF A LIFE: An Autobiography

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A feisty memoir by one of America's most gifted actresses. Although movie fans might know her best as the pushy mother of Dick Van Dyke in Bye Bye Birdie (a part she played when she was in her 30s ... Read full review

A hell of a life: an autobiography

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"It was I who found Maureen Stapleton," Tennessee Williams would later say, referring to his casting of the young unknown in his new play, The Rose Tattoo. Soon after, Williams's discovery became an ... Read full review


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About the author (1995)

Jane Scovell has written books with Elizabeth Taylor, Ginger Rogers, Maureen Stapleton, Marilyn Horne, and Kitty Dukakis, and biographies of Oona Chaplin and Samuel Ramey. She now adds Dorf, Mr. Tudball, and The Old Man to her list.

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