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Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro (Hollywood Legends) Paperback


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Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro (Hollywood Legends) + Hollywood's Silent Closet: The Lusty Saga of America's First Star F*#%er
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Product Details

  • Series: Hollywood Legends
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (April 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604734574
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604734577
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mexican heartthrob Ramon Novarro (1899-1968) was one of early Hollywood's leading romancers. He got his big break in 1923's Scaramouche, went on to play the title role in 1925's Ben-Hur and later appeared with Greta Garbo in 1932's Mata Hari. However, despite these sizeable roles, today Novarro is chiefly remembered for how he died: he was beaten to death by two thieves. Now screenwriter and translator Andre Soares offers the thoroughly researched biography Beyond Paradise: The Life of Roman Novarro. Soares skillfully covers the actor's Mexican upbringing, his ascent to fame, his relationship with publicist and entertainment journalist Herbert Howe and the difficulties he encountered as a gay man. This is a straightforward and insightful account of one star's difficult life. 16-page photo insert not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

One of the most popular leading men of the 1920s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer player Novarro had a dark secret: he was gay. The Mexican-born star of such lushly romantic films as The Student Prince and The Pagan, as well as the worldwide sensation Ben-Hur, he tried to walk the fine line between concealing his homosexuality and refusing to play the Hollywood game (including a sham marriage) for the sake of appearances. A sensitive actor, he soon rose above the "Latin lover" stereotype and entered talking pictures with his stardom intact, especially in demand for roles featuring his pleasant singing voice. (He had hoped to be an opera singer.) Although his accent was not intrusive, his fame declined after a few years of poor roles, and he was forced to look to lesser studios and foreign countries to extend his career. In the early 1950s, Novarro returned to Hollywood for a few character roles and then was largely relegated to a life of wealthy retirement until his sordid 1968 murder by two hustlers. With this carefully researched, well-balanced, and intelligently written book, screenwriter Soares has probably produced the definitive Novarro biography. Recommended for all libraries.
Roy Liebman, California State Univ., Los Angeles
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in silent movies--or interesting biographies.
pgh girl
Andre Soares is a remarkable biographer with the extraordinary gift of getting to the heart of his subject.
Roy P. Bower
Ramon Novarro is my most favorite Silent Film actor and I have both this book and the one by Ellenberger.
So. Calif book reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This biography is written in the best style of biography. One learns not only about the subject but also about the era in which he lived. Andre Soares has uncovered and debunked many of the myths and legends that surrounded Ramon Novarro's life, career and eventual murder (being Valentino's lover and an art deco sex toy as a murder weapon among them).
Novarro is revealed in a very sympathetic light. The author writes eloquently and shows he has taken the time not only to research facts and present them here in plenty,like Novarro's movies (Ben Hur etc) and co-stars (Garbo, Crawford, Loy, Shearer) but also to understand Novarro himself. As well as is now possible after the passage of the years, he examines and reveals the stresses and pressures of being an international super-star who is also a homosexual in 1920's America.
The book is a fascinating story and a very good read.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Between 1925 and 1932 he reigned as one of the greatest stars of the screen, with enormous followings first in the United States and then in Europe and in Latin America. Then, as if on the release of a long-held breath, he suddenly fell--and few have fallen quite so far or landed quite so hard.
Arriving in Los Angeles as a refugee from Mexican civil war, Ramon Novarro had the burning ambition, remarkable good looks, and undeniable talent to create a great career, and for a time he succeeded. But he was a conflicted man, torn between his ambitions as an actor and his ambitions as a musician, and struggling between a deep-rooted Catholic faith and a sexual identity that his faith condemned. Perhaps out of uncertainty, perhaps out of fear, and sometimes out of desperation, even at the peak of his power he would be easily influenced, and in the process make one bad choice after another, ultimately precipitating his rapid slide into oblivion.
In the end, Ramon Novarro would make one bad choice too many--and it led to his brutal death and a court case that effectively splashed the very thing he had worked hardest to conceal from the public across the headlines of the world. And for all his great films and great performances, for all his stardom and talents, he is today best remembered by the public as the gay has-been-star who was tortured to death by two male prostitutes he invited into his home for sex.
Given Navorro's determined privacy, much about the man remains mysterious--but Andre Soares' BEYOND PARADISE seems to capture an essence of the man that far exceeds any other account offered thus far, giving us not the stuff of supermarket tabloids but the complexity of a human being who is by turns likable and unlikable, both an incredible success and a dismal failure.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Proving a thorough background of the times, cultures, and lifestyles, the author creates a vivid and three-dimensional narrative of the life of silent/early talkie star Novarro. Rather than accept heresay--especially about the movie star's drinking, horrendous death--Soares delves into the reality of the situations. An excellent book and a wonderful addition to cinema history.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Anyechka on September 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is an incredibly riveting compelling read, and beyond being entertaining and informative, it's also a balanced thoughtful sensitive portrait of a fascinating human being and actor. Some celebrity biographies seem to have been written by people who can't stand their subject and some are written by people who are too in love with the subject to think clearly, but this one gives a nicely balanced account. We see here a man who was a very fine gifted talented actor, but who eventually became a has-been, for various reasons, who didn't always give his all to selecting the best projects because of his conflicting desire to have a career as an opera singer, and who was deeply torn over his genuine deep committment to his family, his Mexican roots, and his Catholic faith, and how he was also a gay man in a time and a society where that subject was strictly taboo. Even at the time of his murder by two young hustlers, gayness was still considered a psychiatric disorder.Read more ›
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Simon Davis on August 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I would give this wonderful biography ten stars if that star rating was available. Being about a topic very dear to my own heart; the life and career of Ramon Novarro the first prominent Mexican star of movies in Hollywood, I was prepared to love this biography anyway however upon reading it I found so much more to appreciate, enjoy and learn from.
"Beyond Paradise", goes beyond just the story of one man's rise to stardom and his life in general, it provides a vivid snapshot of an early period of both Hollywood and American history, its mores, attitudes and views on life. Ramon Novarro's life was indeed one of contrasts, tremendous highs and very deep lows and filled along the way with tremendous film successes,huge adulation, fascinating costars right through to brushes with the law and a lifetime of trying to shield his homosexuality from the adoring public. Andre Soares has brought all of this vividly to life in a scholarly, informative, well researched and entertaining biography that deals objectively with all aspects of this complex and fascinating man. Many film star biographies can easily fall into the "hero worship" category, in particular if the subject is one dear to the author's heart however Andre Soares has managed an objective balance detailing the huge popularity of Ramon Novarro on audiences in the 1920's and early 30's with an honest look at how the passing of stardom and good looks and prevailing attitudes towards homosexuality affected such a performer later in life. The circumstances of Ramon Novarro's tragic death, long a popular subject for the scandal sheets is also handled in an honest, intelligent and non sensational manner.
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