Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them
By Frank Langella
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780062094476, 368pp.)
Publication Date: March 2012
List Price: $25.99*
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Rita Hayworth dancing by candlelight in a small Mexican village; Elizabeth Taylor devouring homemade pasta and tenderly wrapping him in her pashmina scarf; streaking for Sir Laurence Olivier in a drafty English castle; terrifying a dozing Jackie Onassis; carrying an unconscious Montgomery Clift to safety on a dark New York City street.
Captured forever in a unique memoir, Frank Langella's myriad encounters with some of the past century's most famous human beings are profoundly affecting, funny, wicked, sometimes shocking, and utterly irresistible. With sharp wit and a perceptive eye, Mr. Langella takes us with him into the private worlds and privileged lives of movie stars, presidents, royalty, literary lions, the social elite, and the greats of the Broadway stage.
What, for instance, was Jack Kennedy doing on that coffee table? Why did the Queen Mother need Mr. Langella's help? When was Paul Mellon going to pay him money owed? How did Brooke Astor lose her virginity? Why was Robert Mitchum singing Gilbert & Sullivan patter songs at top volume, and what did Marilyn Monroe say to him that helped change the course of his life?
Through these shared experiences, we learn something, too, of Mr. Langella's personal journey from the age of fifteen to the present day.
Dropped Names is, like its subjects, riveting and unforgettable.
“Splendid. . . . As much a memoir as a primer on the vicissitudes of an actor’s life, the book is a collage based on real-life situations that offer touching insights into stars like Rita Hayworth, and into the practical magic that informs Langella’s signature sensibility.”
-The New Yorker
“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.”
-Gay Talese, author of A Writer's Life
“A delightfully unabashed page-turner about people we wish we had known in the throes of work, love, and growing old.”
-A.R. Gurney, award-winning playwright
“Engaging. . . .Not just Langella’s “famous people I have known,” but a heartfelt love letter to the theater and to the days when stars were stars, not merely celebrities.”
“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.”
“ If Frank Langella’s memoir simply did what its title promises, it would be deep-dish gossip. But his memories of the stars he’s encountered during a lengthy career on Broadway and in film shed perceptive light on the costs of pursuing and maintaining fame.”
-Detroit Free Press
“Langella’s uncommonly eloquent book is enjoyable for the panoply of great names who turn up. . . . A natural raconteur, he seems to fit precisely Henry James’s famous description of the novelist as one ‘on whom nothing is lost.’”
-New York Times
“Frank Langella’s DROPPED NAMES is a different kind of memoir. . . . Not many of his peers could write such an eloquently dishy book.”
-Los Angeles Times