New Book On Elaine Stritch Headed For Release
Author John Bell announces the release of his memoir Elaine Stritch: The End of Pretend, a book about an extraordinary life and the first book about the Broadway actress who died in 2014. The End of Pretend chronicles the twilight of actress Elaine Stritch's career offering a rare first-person and no-holds-barred glimpse into the private persona behind the Broadway icon.
Beginning with a 2009 interview conducted with Stritch at the Carlyle Hotel in New York and spanning her remaining years in New York and her final fourteen months in Birmingham, Michigan, a series of regular visits turned into an odd and intimate friendship between the author and this brassiest of Broadway babies. As friends, they were a study in contrasts: Bell polite and patient; Stritch short-fused and demanding. But they came to learn they were kindred spirits with a shared affinity for unexpected opportunity. Told primarily in Stritch's own words, The End of Pretend provides an unvarnished portrait of the brutal and most honest truth-teller. Her personality commands the page with full force. Both hysterical and mesmerizing, John Bell renders Stritch in a fashion that is true to life, punctuating his narrative with her infamous humor, her infamous foul mouth, and her infamous foul-mouthed humor.
The End of Pretend features Elaine's recollections of her career highlights, working with Noel Coward, Edward Albee, and Stephen Sondheim as well as her golden age in the 70's in London doing theater and TV and falling in love with and eventually marrying the actor John Bay. The memoir touches on every aspect of Stritch's career, a virtual personal history of 20th century entertainment industry featuring her thoughts, anecdotes, and opinions on a wide range of people including: Agnes DeMille, Rock Hudson, Marlon Brando, Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, Richard Rodgers, Mary Tyler Moore, Bill Cosby, Harold Prince, James Gandolfini, Liz Smith, Irving Berlin, Gower Champion, Ethel Merman, Meryl Streep, and Rosie O'Donnell among others.
What makes The End of Pretend particularly fascinating are the moments when Bell takes the reader into this most public of celebrity's more private moments. "Elaine was a consummate artist whose dedication to acting I found wholly compelling. She gave all of herself onstage, demanding the audience to keep up and commanding their arrested attention. She was similarly absorbing in private - her razor sharp wit and strong opinions made for lively, entertaining conversation," says Bell.
"As our friendship deepened, Elaine shared wild anecdotes from her storied career and how her family background, filled with Irish humor and a high alcohol-fueled propensity for truth, inspired her skill for finding and communicating truth," says Bell. As Elaine confided, "a lot of people think I'm difficult because I'm direct and I tell it like it is, but the thing you have to know is that telling the truth off stage builds courage for truthfulness on stage - and vice versa."
Most fascinating is Bell's ability to get Stritch to talk, with harrowing honesty, about her journey through increasing states of vulnerability: facing the end of her career, leaving New York, battling alcoholism, and navigating the gauntlet of physical ailments that led to the end of her life.
With its life affirming messages about survival and remaining vital in elder hood, The End of Pretend is a must-read for the legion of Elaine Stritch fans as well as any serious student of the theater. The End of Pretend overflows with Elaine's voice, in all its power and irascible glory. Ultimately, The End of Pretend is a treatise on mortality. Readers will be surprised by Stritch's quest to "make friends with the end of pretend" and "leave the building with a little dignity."
Elaine Stritch: The End of Pretend will be available in August 2019 on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos