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Francis X. Bushman: A Biography and Filmography

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0786404858
ISBN-10: 078640485X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"a complete homage to a one-of-a-kind performer...authentic" -- The Silents Majority On-Line Journal

"a detailed and abundantly illustrated work" -- AB Bookman's Weekly

"this affectionate biography is supplemented by a well-detailed filmography...also a good listing of the actor's...appearances...a worthy tribute" -- Past Times

"well documented...the filmography provides complete credit information...together with synopses and contemporary comment" -- Classic Images

About the Author

Writers Richard J. Maturi and Mary Buckingham Maturi conducted interviews with Bushman family members who provided them with family stories and photographs for this work. They live in the Laramie Range of the Wyoming Rockies.
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Product Details

  • Library Binding: 264 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company (July 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078640485X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786404858
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,323,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Library Binding
Despite the joy at finding this book available, as I had always wanted to know WHO Francis X Bushman was, I did not find it completely satisfying. It seemed more a disjointed essay than a thorough biography. There was interesting information but there was no real "sense" of him as a man. For example, considering that his marriages were pivotal to his career it is frustrating not to really get any insight to them. I left the book barely knowing anything about his first wife or her take on the hiding of their marriage and children, which I think would have been a reasonable expectation in picking up the book in the first place.
It is generally assumed that there will be difficulties in writing the biography of a silent star. Will there be enough information considering fresh first hand accounts are next to impossible to source and the tremendous task of sorting fact from publicity? These are sources of difficulty, but considering the recent excellent biographies of Florence Lawrence and Ramon Novarro, it does seem possible to conquer them.
I am glad that there is finally a biography of Francis X Bushman as he was indeed an important figure in silent film and he deserves more than relegation to being a footnote of his era. I'm just disappointed I left the book wishing for more.
gabby_talmadge@yahoo.com
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Format: Library Binding
Richard and Mary Maturi's biography of Francis X. Bushman
is excellent. There has been a great need for this first ever biographical portrait of American film history's very first superstar.
The Maturis' book provides the general reader and also scholar with a wealth of detailed information about Bushman's life from his youth growing up in Baltimore, Maryland and through his silent film career when he was the greatest name in movies from 1911-1918. Louis B. Mayer had Bushman's film career blacklisted after an altercation with him. Today Bushman is primarily famous for portraying Messalla in the 1925 feature film version of "Ben Hur". After this classic silent movie Francis X. Bushman made relatively few film appearances. He appeared in some talking movies and on a few television programs until his death in the 1960's. He also had a radio program acting career.
My great-grandfather Boston Fear gave Francis X. Bushman his very first job in life when Bushman was a boy in 1890's Baltimore. I present film lectures about the life of Francis X. Bushman. The Maturis' biography has been greatly beneficial to me in my research upon Bushman's life. This book has a wonderfully extensive listing of all of the film and television appearances of Bushman. The book's bibliography and annotational footnotes are also impressive.
A great "what-if?" question in the history of film superstars is the following query: How much more complete and enriched would we scholars and laymen be if Francis X. Bushman had written his own autobiography? Tragically, this never occurred. However the Maturis have produced a fine biographical homage to this superstar. Their book is analogous to discovering an oasis in a desert.
It is very strange that today few people know who Francis X. Bushman was.
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Format: Library Binding
Francis X. Bushman was probably the first male "sex symbol" of the movies. He was good looking and was in such good physical shape that he modeled for many statues before his film career took off. Female moviegoers loved him so much that the studio kept his marriage a secret, otherwise they might not love him so much. When he became one of the first big movie stars to get a divorce, his career suffered.
The authors have done a good job of tracking down some of the many statues that Bushman modeled. And they have done exhaustive research using movie fan magazines and trade magazines to document his career. The authors also interviewed some Bushman relatives and they provide a few stills of him in later life. Still, the book does not go into much detail on particular films (with the notable exception of BEN HUR) and you really don't get a sense of what kind a person Bushman really was, other than his body-builder interests. It may be that there just are not enough sources left to document the missing parts of his life.
The filmography is excellent and very detailed. It lists Bushman's film roles, TV roles, and radio roles, as well as the professional activity of his offspring. My only complaint is that neither the text nor the filmography list which films survive or are available for viewing.
This book is not perfect, but I would recommend it to anyone interested in silent film stars.
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