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Wallace Reid: The Life And Death of a Hollywood Idol [Hardcover]

by E. J. Fleming
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 8, 2007 0786428155 978-0786428151 annotated edition
For a decade Wallace Reid was the most recognized face in Hollywood, the most universally beloved actor in silent film. Today all that is widely remembered of "Wally" Reid is that he died in a padded sanitarium cell, the victim of a fatal morphine addiction. Of all the actors who have enjoyed great fame only to vanish from the public eye, Reid perhaps fell the fastest and hardest. This first full biography recounts Reid's complicated childhood, his disrupted family history and his rise to film stardom despite these restricting factors. It documents his myriad talents and accomplishments, most notably his gift for brilliant onscreen acting. The text explores in depth how the modern studio, however unconsciously, turned the popular star, a well-adjusted man with a loving family, into a drug-dependent mental patient within three years. His death rocked the foundations of Hollywood, and the huge new industry that he helped build nearly died with "Dashing Wally Reid."

Editorial Reviews


"Exhaustive...recommended." --Library Journal

"Excellent...loads of solid research...a book of riches...a must-read...well written, informative...get this book...will be a revelation to a lot of film fans." --Classic Images

"In-depth biography...extensive research." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

E.J. Fleming is also the author of Carole Landis (2005), The Fixers (2004), The Movieland Directory (2004) and Hollywood Death and Scandal Sites (2000). He lives in Barrington, Illinois.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company; annotated edition edition (February 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786428155
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786428151
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,552,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Research on a Long Forgotten Star November 8, 2007
By B. Corp
How Mr. Flemming was able to get so much information about a man who died so long ago is just amazing. I am so glad he chose Wallace Reid as a subject. I read bits and pieces about him, mostly about his morphine abuse, but didn't really know anything about Wallace as a person.
I did think that there was a little too much detail on the synopsis of Mr. Reid's pictures.

All Though the book is a bit expensive, any true fan of the silent era really should have this book in their collection
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOW THE SPOTLIGHT WILL ALWAYS SHINE ON HIM March 2, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've known about him all my life because he was my great grandfathers cousin. I know that he was a source of great pride to his family and much loved by his fans. Up until now the only book I had read about him was written by his mother who felt compelled to defend him after his death and wanted everyone to know who her son "Wally" really was. That and a few stories from my great grandparents were all I thought I'd ever know. I can't tell you what it means to me to have found this treasure! The picture on the cover just takes my breath away. And the answer to every question I could have asked is there. And so many priceless rare photos of the silent film era bring the story to life. This author just lays it all out brilliantly! Thank you Mr. Fleming for telling his story with so much empathy and respect. As an aside I was also thrilled to find out that Amazon sells his films too-I bought them all of course!
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm crying too... May 1, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
McFarland has just released E.J. Fleming's "Wallace Reid,The Life and Death of a Hollywood Idol". Wallace Reid(April 15,1891-January 18,1923) was an actor in silent films referred to by Motion Picture Magazine as the screen's No. 1 lover. Today, in 2007, Wallace Reid is almost unknown. William Wallace Reid was born in St. Louis, Missouri into a show business family. Reid performed on stage at an early age. An all-around athlete, Reid engaged in sports, and also maintained an interest in music, the piano, banjo, drums, and the violin. Reid was drawn to the burgeoning motion picture industry by his father. In 1910, 19-year-old Reid appeared in his first motion picture, "The Phoenix", filmed at Selig Polyscope Studios in Chicago. Reid approached Vitagraph Studios hoping to be given a chance to direct. He did, and also worked as a writer and a cameraman. Comfortable behind the camera, he was never really at ease in front of it. But he was soon acting, his natural good-looks perceived by early film mogul, Allan Dwan. He was featured in "Birth of a Nation(1915)" and "Intolerance(1916)", both directed by D.W. Griffith, becoming one of Hollywood's major stars. Involved in more than a hundred one-reelers, Reid was signed by producer Jesse Lasky and then acted in another sixty films for Lasky's Famous Players film company, later known as Paramount Pictures. In 1914, Jesse Lasky's first film, "The Squaw Man", became a great hit. It was the first epic western; it's success helped make Hollywood a center for film-making. Then Lasky merged with Adolph Zukor to form Famous-Players, a major silent-era studio. Lasky was instrumental in molding Reid into a matinee idol. Sadly, Reid's movie image and celebrity lifestyle intersected. Read more ›
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Biography February 27, 2007
E.J. Fleming has done it again! He has written another fabulous biography about a forgotten classic star. This is a well-researched, well-written, and very entertaining book about silent actor Wallace Reid. It is a fascinating look at the early days of Hollywood and the agony of drug addiction. The book includes some rare photos and a complete filmography. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Wallace Reid, loves classic movies, or just wants to read an interesting biography. It's a little pricey but it's worth every penny. I can't wait until E.J.'s next book :-)
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars April 6, 2007
I became a big fan of E.J. Fleming after my daughter gave me his fabulous Carole Landis biography. I love that E.J. writes about stars how haven't already had a million books published about them I did not know much about Wallace Reid before reading this - I feel like I am an expert now! This is a fascinating look at the early days of Hollywood and the agony of drug addiction. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Wallace Reid, loves classic movies, or just wants to read an interesting biography.

You should also check out E.J.'s book Carole Landis: A Tragic Life In Hollywood
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wally Reid: Early Film Star Explodes July 23, 2013
Somewhere along the way, Wally Reid was introduced to morphine and alcohol and began his decline that eventually led to his death.

I just finished the Wallace Reid bio by E.J. Fleming and I recommend it highly. Again, Fleming has meticulously researched his subject and delivered a book that must be considered required reading for any serious movie fan.

Wally Reid was one of America's earliest big box office draws, between 1917 and 1922. Good looking and athletic, women adored him and men didn;t feel threatened. He was a man's man, who rode horses, drove race cars and, seemingly, had it all. Including a drug habit that picked apart his life, little by little, until there was nothing left.

Fleming has done a wonderful job detailing Reid's, now mostly, lost films and chronicled the life of on of Hollywood's first and biggest stars, separating fiction from fact, giving us the most complete story of Reid we will ever get.
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