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Swifty: My Life and Good Times By Irving Lazar Hardcover – March 23, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Brooklyn-bred son of Russian Jewish immigrants, brash, brawling Irving ("Swifty") Lazar, who died last year at 87, rose from mean streets to become one of the most successful Hollywood and New York agents. This breezy, star-studded, wisecracking and hugely entertaining autobiographical memoir, completed by freelance writer Tapert after Lazar's death, is filled with sly self-revelations and golden anecdotes about Lazar's clients, among them Cole Porter, Moss Hart, Ira Gershwin, Irwin Shaw, Truman Capote, Clifford Odets, Neil Simon, Alan Jay Lerner, Larry McMurtry, William Saroyan, Vladimir Nabokov. There are also gimlet glimpses of Lazar's friends and acquaintances?Bogart, Sinatra, Brando, Groucho Marx, Walter Winchell, Count Basie, Sam Goldwyn, etc. Leaving the impression that he was a showman who invented himself as he went along, Lazar spins juicy tales of deal-making and actors' inflated egos while defending his poaching of other agents' clients and his notorious non-reading of clients' manuscripts ("everybody worked from synopses"). Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

For Lazar, life was an anecdote and, appropriately, his autobiography reads like one. Dubbed "Swifty" by Bogart after he had made three deals in one day, Lazar graduated from his Brooklyn beginnings as a lawyer not above occasional loansharking to become a talent and literary agent extraordinaire. Lazar's clients included Noel Coward, Cole Porter, and Clifford Odets; he hobnobbed with legends such as Bogie, Sinatra, and Gershwin and sold ideas to studio titans Goldwyn, Mayer, and Warner. In the 1970s, Lazar introduced glitterati to the publishing world and went on to launch the TV mini-series phenomenon with Rich Man, Poor Man. In December 1993 he died after clinching his final deal: the sale of his own autobiography. Never modest and with a penchant for hyperbole, Lazar here offers a life story that belies his obsession with class trappings, but the hardboiled chutzpah of his youth still shines through. This anecdotal entertainment, rich with legendary names, is recommended for larger public libraries.
--Jayne Plymale-Jackson, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Athens
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (March 23, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684804182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684804187
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,838,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JasparLamarCrabb on September 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Irving "Swifty" Lazar's autobiography is a must read for those interested in the worlds of literature and entertainment during the second half of the twentieth century. Lazar knew EVERYONE there was to know and, as an agent, represented virtually everyone. Whether it's Truman Capote or Irwin Shaw or Joan Collins(!), Lazar worked deals for all of them. His book is a fast read, full of (mostly funny) anecdotes such as Lazar whooping it up in Paris with a very uncooperative and heavily intoxicated Humphrey Bogart, Lazar in a physical altercation with the director Otto Preminger (at "21" no less) and, of course, Lazar's famous Oscar night parties, where anyone who was anyone had to be seen. Full of laughs, useful info on the jet-set (if there is such a thing) as well as a bit of intrigue as Lazar dissects some of his most successful wheeling and dealing: securing a cash windfall for Moss Hart; shopping around a very unfriendly UN Ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick's autobiography; working on the Frost/Nixon interview. A great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By babyboomerlarry on May 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Swifty, excuse me- Irving's recounting of the many episodes of his life's experience make for great anecdotes. It may be possible that he imagined some of the stuff but who cares? You'll enjoy reading about his "Dirty Dozen"-like army experience as well as his admission to not being a professional sometimes going about his job as an agent.
You'll also get a more honest telling of the nature of the beast in Bogey, Bacall and Sinatra than from any hatchet job biographer.

Enjoy reading it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hey many stars and celebrities can I mention in one sentence, that was the key to this book. For people of a certain age, that's me it was fun to read,at least I knew who Swifty was talking about, from Moss Hart and Kitty Carlisle to Cole Porter and Bogey and Bacall etc ad nauseum
An ego maniac if not a meglomaniac, man was totally consumed with one thought...ME ME ME
Read if you want to know about life in the 40's throught the 80"s.
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