"Mann sets new standards in movie biography." -- David Thomson (click on book for information)
Hello Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand
How to be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood
Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn
The Edge of Midnight: The Life of John Schlesinger
Wisecracker: The Life & Times of William Haines
Behind The Screen: How Gays & Lesbians Shaped Hollywood
HELLO GORGEOUS: BECOMING BARBRA STREISAND
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012)
In 1960, she was a seventeen-year-old Brooklyn kid with plenty of talent but no connections and certainly no money. Just four years later, Barbra Streisand was the top-selling female recording artist in America and the star of one of Broadway’s biggest hits. Now acclaimed Hollywood biographer William J. Mann reveals the riveting, never-before-told account of that dizzying ascent, chronicling the behind-the-scenes story of how Streisand and her team transformed her from an unknown dreamer into a worldwide superstar.
Drawing on the private papers of Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse and interviewing scores of the friends and lovers who knew Barbara before she became Barbra, Mann recreates the vanished world of 1960s New York City and uncovers the truth behind the myths of her formative years. He shows us how Funny Girl was slowly transformed, by Fosse and Robbins among others, from a Fanny Brice bio into a star-making vehicle for Streisand; takes us into the clubs and onto the set for her early nightclub and television appearances, including her torch-handing turn with Judy Garland; introduces the canny marketing team whose strategies made Streisand’s stardom seem inevitable;and tells the heartbreak of a young woman who, for all her tough-skinned ambition, was surprisingly vulnerable in love.
Everyone who has felt outside the gate, as she did, remembers a time when the newness and difference of Barbra Streisand changed everything and rewrote all the rules. In Hello, Gorgeous, Mann incisively illuminates the woman before she became the icon and pays tribute to one of the world’s most beloved performers. "Mann's meticulous research and insightful analysis go deeper than any previous biography: shedding light on the formative years that shaped Streisand's persona, debunking some myths and providing a cultural snapshot of the wild and free-spirited era in which Streisand blossomed." — USA Today
“A fresh exploration of the early years of Streisand... Mann approaches his work not as a starry-eyed super fan, but as a curious and meticulous journalist, one who is appropriately complimentary of Streisand but also candid about her shortcomings.” — The Washington Post
"Mann vividly evokes the atmosphere of Streisand's New York... He has written a novelized biography notable for its breadth of detail and fair-mindedness." — New York Times Book Review
"[An] excellent new work... One can only put down HELLO, GORGEOUS with renewed appreciation for Barbra’s single-mindedness, and with some glimpse of her inner struggle." — Liz Smith, syndicated columnist
“Mann has found another great subject here, and offers up many new tidbits about Streisand’s early life.” — Judith Newman, in People magazine (three and a half stars)
"Mann balances intimate personal details with audience reactions and critical acclaim to etch an indelible portrait of the artist as a young woman." — Publishers Weekly
"A compelling, detailed look at the rise of the multitalented Streisand from 17-year-old unknown to chart-topping singer and Broadway star. Highly recommended." — Library Journal “Mann assembles an origin story that is vividly detailed, yet judicious in tone... His reporting adds much to what's already known about her.” — Newsday
"A definitive look at the superstar’s illustrious career... Mann can tell a juicy Hollywood tale!" — USA Today
"Streisand fans will come away feeling they’ve had a ringside seat at her early career, and they will leave the show applauding." — Booklist
HOW TO BE A MOVIE STAR: ELIZABETH TAYLOR IN HOLLYWOOD
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009) In the 1960s, Elizabeth Taylor's affair with the married Richard Burton knocked John Glenn's orbit of the moon off front pages nationwide. Yet, despite all the gossip, the larger-than-life personality and influence of this very human woman has never been captured. William Mann, praised by Gore Vidal, Patricia Bosworth, and Gerald Clarke for Kate, uses untapped sources and conversations to show how she ignited the sexual revolution with her on-and off-screen passions, helped kick down the studio system by taking control of her own career, and practically invented the big business of celebrity star-making. With unputdownable storytelling he tells the full truth without losing Taylor's magic, daring, or wit. Readers will feel they are sitting next to Taylor as she rises at MGM, survives a marriage engineered for publicity, feuds with Hedda Hopper and Mr. Mayer, wins Oscars, endures tragedy, juggles Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton and her country's conservative values. But it is the private Elizabeth that will surprise--a woman of heart and loyalty, who defends underdogs, a savvy professional whose anger at the studio's treatment of her led to a lifelong battle against that very system. All the Elizabeth's are here, finally reconciled and seen against the exciting years of her greatest spirit, beauty, and influence. Swathed in mink, staring us down with her lavender eyes, disposing of husbands but keeping the diamonds, here is Elizabeth Taylor as she was meant to be, leading her epic life on her own terms, playing the game of supreme stardom at which she remains, to this day, unmatched. "Mann has clearly done his research…engrossing...The sorts of details a reader craves from a celebrity biography…rendered with a verve and a fluidity that keep the book moving along in a fleet fashion." — New York Times Book Review "Dishy and intriguing." — People "Yummier than digging into a hot-fudge sundae and a stack of US Weekys." — USA Today "Mann's eminently yummy entry is pretty much everything you'd want in a Hollywood biography." — Salon.com "Wickedly entertaining…Mann cleverly forsakes a conventional biography and instead deconstructs a series of chapters of Taylor's life, deploying freshly uncovered tales." — Sunday Times (London) "Part biography and part meditation on the nature of fame, How To Be a Movie Star is also a study on the culture of celebrity." — San Francisco Examiner "Delish." — Good Housekeeping
KATE: THE WOMAN WHO WAS HEPBURN
(Henry Holt, 2006)
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year, as well as one of Publishers Weekly's 100 Best Books of the Year, KATE garnered great attention upon publication, being serialized in Vanity Fair and the New York Daily News. “A corrective to the hagiography that has often been passed as her personal history," wrote The Washington Post. Indeed, Mann’s portrait of the American icon differs from her public legend in many ways, not least of which was her steely determination to make it to the top and her obsession with staying there.
And yet the book remains respectful and even affectionate toward Hepburn, the beloved movie queen and Connecticut Yankee. The real woman, as Mann points out, was far more interesting than the one-dimensional legend she fostered. Katharine Hepburn was her own creation. She charmed the public with the image of an East Coast aristocrat, wearing pants and freely speaking her mind, and the image stuck. But that show didn't come easily to her, or without tremendous effort and concealment. None of her success did. What lay beneath Hepburn's public roles was an ambitious, vulnerable woman whose relationships and sexuality were never as simple as Kate--and previous biographers--suggested.
With this biography, William J. Mann challenges much of what we think we know about the Great Kate, and shows how a woman originally considered too controversial for Hollywood stardom learned the fine art of imagecraft, and transformed herself into an icon as all-American as the Statue of Liberty.
"Certain to stand tall as the definitive biography of Hepburn." — The Sunday Times (London)
"A page-turner and a revelation." — USA Today
"Not just the best on Hepburn--it's a book that sets new standards in movie biography." — The New York Observer
"While previous biographers may have added more embroidery to the accepted story of Hepburn's life, Mann pretty much blows everything out of the water." — San Francisco Chronicle
"Mann handles the material with clear-eyed equanimity. . . . A corrective to the hagiography that has often been passed as her personal history." — The Washington Post
“Not only an intriguing portrait of Katharine Hepburn — but also an accurate picture of her Hollywood and the difficult business of stardom.” — Gore Vidal
“Thoughtful...savvy... A real life version of one of America's favorite fairy tales.” — Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Packed with details...painstaking reportage.” — Entertainment Weekly
“An incisive look at the blue-blooded screen legend whose deft creation of her own myth may startle even a Hollywood insider.” — Vogue
“I thought I knew a lot about Katharine Hepburn until I read William J. Mann’s stunning biography. Mann’s account is mesmerizing and well researched; he is psychologically acute without ever being clinical, deeply respectful without being reverential. Plus, KATE is a wonderful read—I could not put it down.” —Patricia Bosworth, author of Diane Arbus: A Biography
“She wrote memoirs, she gave interviews, and she talked, talked, talked. We thought we knew everything about Katharine Hepburn, but we actually knew only what she wanted us to know. William J. Mann’s exciting new biography pulls back those carefully drawn curtains to reveal the real Hepburn—a different but far more interesting woman than the one we thought we knew.” —Gerald Clarke, author of Capote and Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland
“Katharine Hepburn is a 10,000-piece jigsaw. I would have defied anyone to have assembled the puzzle as beautifully as William Mann has done. What a job! This is one of the best books ever written about a movie star and the complexities and compromises involved with fame and celebrity. It delves intimately, candidly, mesmerizingly, into Hepburn’s ‘dual’ sexuality as a key to her persona. The reporting is fresh and persuasive, the tone intelligent and compassionate. This is the book that finally pierces the mystery of the human being behind the legend. I couldn’t stop reading—or thinking—about it.” —Patrick McGilligan, author of George Cukor: A Double Life and
Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light
“William J. Mann’s biography of Katharine Hepburn deepens the focus on the singular life of this spectacular 20th century personality. An extraordinary job of research … This is solid craftsmanship, entertaining, well presented and completely satisfying.”—Marc Eliot, author of Cary Grant
"The time is ripe, the author is right, for this eye-opening biography. With humor and a sympathy unclouded by awe, Mann dismantles the elaborate charade that went into the Katharine Hepburn mystique. Not least fascinating is the ambiguous sexuality that lay behind the deceptively straightforward image, carefully crafted by Hepburn herself with the eager compliance of reporters and fans. " —Molly Haskell, author of From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies
EDGE OF MIDNIGHT: THE LIFE OF JOHN SCHLESINGER
John Schlesinger's extraordinary career in cinema, stage, opera, and television spanned half a century. It was, however, his films that made him famous, including such classics as Midnight Cowboy, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Marathon Man, Billy Liar, Darling, and Day of the Locust.
In Edge of Midnight, William J. Mann chronicles Schlesinger's life and career from his early documentary days at the BBC to his emergence as part of the New Wave of British film in the 1960s (along with Lindsay Anderson, Karel Reisz, and Tony Richardson), to his Academy Award for the X-rated Midnight Cowboy, to his glittering nights as a Hollywood host, and finally to his death on July 24, 2003, brought on by a massive stroke two years earlier.
In writing this biography, Mann received the full cooperation of Schlesinger himself, as well as that of his family and his companion of 36 years, Michael Childers. In addition, he was granted complete access to tapes, diaries, production notes, and correspondence. Many of Schlesinger’s actors, crew members, friends, and colleagues shared their thoughts and memories, including Eileen Atkins, the late Sir Alan Bates, Alan Bennett, Julie Christie, Sir Tom Courtney, Placido Domingo, Robert Evans, Sally Field, Melanie Griffith, Sir Peter Hall, Ed Harris, Dustin Hoffman. Shirley MacLaine, Ali McGraw, Sir Ian McKellen, Lynn Redgrave, Vanessa Redgrave, Nicolas Roeg, Isabella Rossellini, Roy Scheider, Martin Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Lily Tomlin, Brenda Vaccaro, Jon Voight, Robert Wagner, Billy Williams, Michael York, and Franco Zeffirelli.
“Mann understands Schlesinger’s complexities and brings him indelibly to life.” —The Guardian
"An entertaining, well-researched biography... It's time Schlesinger was given his due." —The Times (London)
"William J Mann is never afraid to ask questions, piecing together Schlesinger's story from interviews with colleagues and friends. The result is a loving portrait of a giant of film." —Total Film
"Expertly researched and highly readable." — Scotland on Sunday
“Mann's strength as a Schlesinger biographer is that he is properly alive to the homosexual sensibilities that pervade the director's career." — Sunday Times (London)
"John Schlesinger's best work possessed a rare fluency and power... Mann's book is affectionate but resists dissolving into hagiography." — Financial Times
WISECRACKER: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WILLIAM HAINES
In 1930, William Haines was the Number One box-office-star in America. By 1933, he was forgotten -- kicked out of an industry where he once was king. The reason was simple: he had refused to play the game. While he romanced leading ladies like Joan Crawford and Marion Davies onscreen, in real life he was unapologetically gay -- living openly with his partner, Jimmie Shields. Together they hosted some of Hollywood’s trendiest parties, in an era far more tolerant than most historians remember.
But once the Production Code was enacted, forever changing the political climate in the movie capital, the studios began insisting their stars live up to certain images. When MGM chief Louis B. Mayer insisted Haines give up Shields and get married for publicity purposes, Haines refused. Some three years before Edward VIII renounced his crown for the woman he loved, Billy Haines gave up his own Hollywood throne for the man he loved. William J. Mann brings back an important figure in both film and gay history, setting Haines fully in context with his times, illuminating a whole era of Hollywood, contrasting the free-living 1920s with the conservative backlash of the 1930s.
“Haines’ story is told solidly, even gracefully... Mann has dug into some pretty dusty old archives without getting buried by their contents... Anyone keen about film history will enjoy Wisecracker’s window on the celebrity milieu of the late silent era.” — USA Today
“An illuminating portrait of early Hollywood’s gay underground...a trenchant, sensitive bio.” — Entertainment Weekly
“A lively book that fans of Hollywood gossip will love.”— New York Times Book Review
“An authoritative and exhaustively researched examination of a singular life, Wisecracker also succeeds at illuminating an entire era in Hollywood history.” — The Advocate
“From cradle to grave, Mann pieces together Haines’ life like an archaeologist unearthing fragments of lost films buried in the studio vaults...To serious students of American cinema, as well as American gay history, Wisecracker is a godsend... a definitive sourcebook on both the era and the creation of Hollywood’s far-reaching censorship of sexuality in America.” — Lambda Book Report
“Haines’ story is more than a movie-star biography. Mann turns it into a distinctive portrait of 1930s Hollywood --one the movies haven’t given us yet.” — The Seattle Times
“For film buffs and those interested in gay issues Mann’s book is a must, but its appeal easily transcends those categrories...As much a love story as anything else, this often moving chronicle, liberally spiced with period flavor and beguiling though never salacious dish, gives extra dimension to the term ‘gay liberation.’” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In this breezy bio, Mann reveals what really transpired offstage when Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant and Claudette Colbert let their hair down at swell Beverly Hills soirees.” — Out
BEHIND THE SCREEN: HOW GAYS & LESBIANS SHAPED HOLLYWOOD
Hollywood hasn’t always been the menacing behemoth most studies and memoirs have made it out to be. While gay men and women certainly faced more than their share of struggles, they also experienced opportunities for creative self-expression unavailable anywhere else in the world at the time — and without necessarily compromising their integrity or hiding their authentic identities.
Until now, you’ve only heard one small piece of a vast and dynamic story. For every Rock Hudson or Tony Perkins forced to pretend to be straight, there were dozens of behind-the-scenes writers, designers, publicists and directors (and even occasionally some actors!) creating the magic for America’s Dream Factory — and doing so openly and without charade.
Behind the Screen follows in the tradition of such works as Neal Gabler’s An Empire of Their Own and Molly Haskell’s From Reverence to Rape, which looked at the experience of Jews and women in the film industry. Here — finally — William J. Mann does the same for gay men and lesbians, offering the first serious, thoughtful, non-sensational look at the gay experience in the Golden Age of Hollywood.
“Behind the Screen is an epic, a landmark. It has the makings of a miniseries.”— The Seattle Times
“The book of the moment... Mann’s meticulous sociocultural archaeology unearths the impact of gay film industry workers on American motion pictures.”— Salon.com
“A staggering amount of research... a motherlode for future writers on the subject.” — The Washington Post
“Excellent and tactful... Mann doesn’t overplay his hand when it comes to ‘outing’ the past.”— The Los Angeles Times
“In this compulsively readable new book, author William J. Mann reveals to readers the Wizard behind the curtain: the actors, dressers, set decorators, directors, writers, producers — the whole gay and lesbian cadre underpinning the film industry.”— Echo Magazine
“Breathtaking... a wide-angle, Panavision examination of how gay people helped form — and were formed by — the movies. An enormous achievement of cultural history.”— Philadelphia Gay News
“Just as Neal Gabler did in An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, Mann fleshes out a sociological schematic with great people stories. You won’t soon forget some of the ‘wild pansies’ or ‘girls with imagination’ evoked here.”— Baltimore City Paper
“In this fascinating tome, William Mann names names of sexual outlaws of the time... makes one nostalgic for the bad old days.”— Out
“Thoughtful but lively, dishy without being sensational, Behind the Screen is a fascinating tour of Tinseltown highlighting the innumerable contributions that gays and lesbians have made to the movie industry.”— Bay Windows
“Incredibly absorbing... written in a fast-paced, colloquial style that sounds just like the backlot at Universal.”— Baltimore Sun
“A compelling, thoughtful portrait of Hollywood — and by extension American — culture.”— The Boston Phoenix
“A nice companion to Vito Russo’s ‘The Celluloid Closet’... a terrific glimpse into the gay experience in Hollywood from the silent era to the 1960s.”— The Hackensack Record
“An astute and groundbreaking study of the impact of gay and lesbian actors, set designers, writers, costume designers, editors and producers on studio-era Hollywood. Sharp, original research and interviews offer a new lens for examining the complicated, sometimes contradictory relationship between sexual activity, identity and work.”— Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
“An engrossing study... Mann sets the homosexual subculture within the larger social context: the freedom of the 20s, the crackdowns of the 30s, the burgeoning of a gay community and consciousness during the war years, the anti-progressive lunacy of the 50s, and the liberation of the 60s. Complex but illuminating... a sophisticated understanding of Hollywood's indispensable gay and lesbian culture.”— Kirkus Reviews
“Mann gives us the book we've all been awaiting: a readable, slightly gossipy yet scholarly history of gays and lesbians in Hollywood. Important reading for anyone interested in the history of American film.”— Library Journal