BIOGRAPHIES: There are so many I can’t do justice to more than a handful, but here are four you should definitely know about.
MAE MURRAY: THE GIRL WITH THE BEE-STUNG LIPS by Michael G. Ankerich; foreword by Kevin Brownlow (University Press of Kentucky) explores the life of the silent-screen star who was the subject of a 1950s as-told-to memoir called The Self-Enchanted. Ankerich has written extensively about personalities of this era and knows the territory well.
MARY WICKES: I KNOW I’VE SEEN THAT FACE BEFORE by Steve Taravella (University Press of Mississippi) puts the spotlight on one of film and television’s most durable and familiar character actresses, whose credits ranged from The Man Who Came to Dinner to Sister Act. The author tracked down family members, friends, and coworkers to tell her life story, and even gained access to extensive correspondence between Wickes and Lucille Ball.
MAUREEN O’HARA: THE BIOGRAPHY by Aubrey Malone (University Press of Kentucky) is an appreciative biography by an Irish author who did much research in the actress’ homeland. Significantly, he amends and corrects some of the stories O’Hara told in her autobiography (but not all: she claimed to have introduced Walt Disney to Mary Poppins, but it’s well established that Disney began pursuing author P.L. Travers in the 1940s).
WILLIAM WYLER: THE LIFE AND FILMS OF HOLLYWOOD’S MOST CELEBRATED DIRECTOR by Gabriel Miller (University Press of Kentucky) attempts to be both a biography and a critical study of the man who gave us Jezebel, The Best Years of Our Lives, Wuthering Heights, Roman Holiday, Ben-Hur, and so many other landmark films. Miller provides a history of each Wyler project in this hefty volume.