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Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 27, 2012
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“Rarely have I read a book about celebrities that is as insightful, candid, revealing, and as well-written as this one. Frank Langella’s memoir is not the usual author’s ego trip, but rather his remembrances of the many accomplished men and women that he has come to know.” (Gay Talese, author of A Writer's Life)
“A delightfully unabashed page-turner about people we wish we had known in the throes of work, love, and growing old.” (A.R. Gurney, award-winning playwright)
“Engaging. . . .Not just Langella’s “famous people I have known,” but a heartfelt love letter to the theater and to the days when stars were stars, not merely celebrities.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Dropped Names is a sizzling platter of stellar vignettes—pungent, for sure, but poignant too. . . . Mr. Langella is surgically precise, and eloquent. . . . The human condition in most of its vagaries is beautifully rendered between these pages.” (Liz Smith)
“ If Frank Langella’s memoir simply did what its title promises, it would be deep-dish gossip. But his memories of the stars he’s encountered during a lengthy career on Broadway and in film shed perceptive light on the costs of pursuing and maintaining fame.” (Detroit Free Press)
“Langella’s uncommonly eloquent book is enjoyable for the panoply of great names who turn up. . . . A natural raconteur, he seems to fit precisely Henry James’s famous description of the novelist as one ‘on whom nothing is lost.’” (New York Times)
“Frank Langella’s DROPPED NAMES is a different kind of memoir. . . . Not many of his peers could write such an eloquently dishy book.” (Los Angeles Times)
“The 65 chapters in this satisfyingly scandalous memoir paint Broadway and Hollywood as teeming with vulgar, neurotic and irresistible company, and Langella as relentlessly affable in the face of nonstop groping by celebrities in far-flung locations.” (Paperback Row, New York Times)
From the Back Cover
Rita Hayworth dancing by candlelight in a small Mexican village; Elizabeth Taylor devouring homemade pasta and tenderly wrapping him in her pashmina scarf; streaking for Sir Laurence Olivier in a drafty English castle; terrifying a dozing Jackie Onassis; carrying an unconscious Montgomery Clift to safety on a dark New York City street.
Captured forever in a unique memoir, Frank Langella's myriad encounters with some of the past century's most famous human beings are profoundly affecting, funny, wicked, sometimes shocking, and utterly irresistible. With sharp wit and a perceptive eye, Mr. Langella takes us with him into the private worlds and privileged lives of movie stars, presidents, royalty, literary lions, the social elite, and the greats of the Broadway stage.
What, for instance, was Jack Kennedy doing on that coffee table? Why did the Queen Mother need Mr. Langella's help? When was Paul Mellon going to pay him money owed? How did Brooke Astor lose her virginity? Why was Robert Mitchum singing Gilbert & Sullivan patter songs at top volume, and what did Marilyn Monroe say to him that helped change the course of his life?
Through these shared experiences, we learn something, too, of Mr. Langella's personal journey from the age of fifteen to the present day.
Dropped Names is, like its subjects, riveting and unforgettable.
Top Customer Reviews
At first, they don't seem to be arranged in any particular order, but Langella points out in the preface that they appear according to the date they died. The pieces range from two pages to 16 pages (Liz Taylor). Most are 4-5 pages.
Many of the pieces are poignant and sad. Much of the sadness comes from people thinking they're still stars when their time has passed. Langella is perceptive, sensitive and honest. Langella is a fine writer, one who can paint a picture and turn a phrase. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Here are some of his observations of famous people he has known:
Lee Strasberg: Cruel and rather ridiculous demigod; arrogant and insufferable.
Rita Hayworth: One of God's lost souls; She is the single most tragic example of how far from the real person an image can be; From the moment I met her, she haunted my imagination.
Tony Perkins: A book with such a beautiful cover on whose pages were most likely written crippling and indelible words of shame and guilt.
Dinah Shore: An extraordinary example of what a woman can accomplish without a man and still retain her femininity; a person of soft Southern demeanor, full of integrity and honest curiosity.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis: Not shy but canny; skilled in the art of mystery and allure; someone for whom money was an aphrodisiac.
Raul Julia: Defined real masculinity.
Ida Lupino: Needed to be loved and nurtured.Read more ›
When I head he'd written a memoir I thought. "Okay, finally I'll get to know the person behind the actor." But that's not what happened with this book. I got his viewpoint all right. I got to know who he loved, who he dislikes, to whom he remains indifferent. But I got to know very little about Frank Langella, the man, and despite the fact that I enjoyed the read, and the viewpoints, at the end of the book I was left feeling a bit flat.
I'm hoping he does write another book. But if he does? I want to hear more about HIM and less about he's met. As name dropping tomes this one is amusing, I can almost hear his voice in my head talking reading it and of course his love of his profession comes shining through, but at the end I knew practically nothing more about the writer and the man than I could have gleaned from reading a few well chosen interviews over the course of his career and that's kind of sad because I think, just from what I've read here that Frank Langella has likely led one h-ll of a life on his own. Gee, I'd really love to hear more about it and HIM sometime. This book I read and I enjoyed, but I'm still waiting on a real auto bio from Frank Langella....
Oh and just in case the guy ever reads his reviews. On one point I'm afraid must firmly disagree.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Frank Langella is one of my favorite artists. He is possessed with the kind of rare intelligence and giftedness that always makes any acting or writing project he takes on a... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Tiwanna Ellerbe
Langella, one of our greatest living actors, tells his stories of the rich and equally famous and his friendships amorous and otherwise. A fun read.Published 20 days ago by Amazon Customer
I have been a fan of Frank Langella's for years. I first saw him in, "The Diary of a Mad Housewife" years and years ago. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Susan Haase
Brilliant and touching A look at several generations of celebrities through the eyes and talented pen of one of our great stage actors, Frank Langella. Read morePublished 29 days ago by J Bellington
Was ok read. A lot of the people he talks about must have been more relevant to the theater than movie stars. His anctidotes about most of them were weak. Not clever or witty. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Lovely writer offering us precise anecdotes of charm, empathy, and humor. I hope he is working on Book 2 as he said he might in an earlier interview. Read morePublished 1 month ago by scattered21
This was is very amusing "light" reading. Each "name" is a short chapter, so I kept it next to my bed to read while watching TV shows with commercials- I read a... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Rongo Rongo