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Art Carney: A Biography Hardcover – April, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Fromm Intl; 1ST edition (April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880641738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880641739
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Capering into fame as Jackie Gleason's sidekick in The Honeymooners, Art Carney proved later that he was no mere television personality but a real actor. He originated the part of neurotic Felix in Neil Simon's 1965 Broadway smash The Odd Couple, and his dual role in Brian Friel's Lovers garnered a 1968 Tony nomination; he won an Academy Award in 1974 for his poignant performance in Harry and Tonto. Michael Seth Starr traces this varied career with perception and empathy, revealing a hard-drinking, introverted, extremely private man totally unlike the blithely goofy Ed Norton.

From Booklist

The story of Carney's career as a funnyman overlaps the story of his battle against alcoholism. Starr's workmanlike account of Carney's dual life adopts a friendly tone that jibes with Carney's comfy-old-shoe acting persona, which so well fit his role as a great second banana to Jackie Gleason that people were surprised when he became a star in his own right. Starr dismisses rumors that Gleason plotted to deny Carney recognition--indeed, dismisses them so often that you start to wonder. Carney's battle with the bottle furnishes a better clue to why proper recognition eluded him. Then again, even with the alcoholism, he won six Emmies fairly early in his career and later an Oscar and a Tony nomination. Because he created three classic comic characters--Ed Norton while with Gleason, The Odd Couple's Felix Unger, and Harry Combes in Harry and Tonto Carney demands a good biography. Starr's fills the bill very adequately, though not flashily. Mike Tribby

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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A pleasure to read! Starr's account of the life of this incredibly talented actor deserves great recognition! One has a true compassion for the trials of Art's life and how he has overcome adversity so completely. The casual observer will be surprised to learn of Carney's range as an actor(it could have been titled "There's More Than Norton"!). The only mild criticism is the jumbling of the storyline sequencing in both "Harry and Tonto" and "Going in Style". This book was a delight and I appreciate Mr. Starr taking the initiative to put this great chronicle together! Steve Schockow Brighton, NY
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It's hard to believe that someone could write a boring book about somebody as funny as Art Carney,but Michael Starr did it.I had to struggle to finish the book.You get almost no sense of what made Carney a comic genius.Starr instead prefers to write at length about Carney's drinking problem and depression.Frankly,it got tedious after awhile.You'll noyice that there's been only one other review of this book in the 3 years that it's been out.Other reader's must have followed the old maxim"If you can't say something nice,don't say anything at all."
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Format: Paperback
This might have been a wonderful, well-rounded chronicle of Art Carney's life, but it's rather disappointing because the author makes a dangerous assumption.

If you're looking for a "Honeymooners Companion," this isn't it. Although the front cover features a big mug shot of Carney as happy-go-lucky "Ed Norton," the actual text AVOIDS Norton in favor of Carney's overall career as a working actor. The author assumes that everybody knows Norton, and gives the character little more than casual mention and only one photograph. The author concedes that Norton was Art Carney's most famous character, but tells the reader nothing about what made him so special. No examples of Carney's comic cleverness and improvisations on the set, no descriptions of classic Norton bits, nothing about how the "Honeymooners" shows were staged. The entire life span of the series is introduced and then dismissed within only three paragraphs: it went on, it wasn't a huge hit first-run, it caught on in reruns. And that's all, because it is assumed that we know. Not one of the 39 episodes is described, or mentioned by title. Art Carney's pivotal character comes across as merely a footnote in his own biography.

Surprisingly for a comedian's story, there is little joy in the book. Most of the behind-the-scenes anecdotes dwell on Carney's problems with alcoholism and their effect on his personal and professional life. The author quotes many of Carney's colleagues, who offer their impressions of what went wrong. It is a measure of Carney's integrity that he always managed to pull himself back together and go from strength to strength. The reader admires how the actor battled his personal demons, but because the thrust of the book is distorted, the face of the subject is indistinct.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Baldassare on February 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written. Told of many parts of Art Carny's life I didn' know about. Not only was he great comic but a fine dramatic actor as well
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Shea on March 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Art Carney is so much more than just a foil for Jackie Gleason's Ralph Cramden. Without reading the biography of Art Carney, you would pass over the ability he had to make Gleason look good. The fact that he seems to be without an ego is the whole reason that those skits were so successful. He was the "wind beneath Gleason's wings". And who would ever have thought that a "second banana" would ever win an Academy Award?
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