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Elaine Stritch Biographies

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Elaine Stritch Biographies#1
Posted: 11/4/19 at 2:07pm

I'm wondering what everyone is thinking about the 2 Elaine Stritch biographies that came out.

"Still Here" by Alexandra Jacobs seems to be promoted on Sirius Radio, different Broadway stars mentioning it on Instagram, and even on list of books to read on some websites. Andrea Burns is even recording the audio book. 

Elaine Stritch: The End of Pretend" by John Bell was mentioned to have been written with Elaine's knowledge and interview with the author. However, the first review on Amazon claims to be from a friend of Elaine's, and say she would be mortified if she knew about what was written. Seems to be focused on the end of her life. I haven't heard anything or anyone mention this book.

Did anyone read either one, and can contribute something? It seems weird to have one so publicised and the other nothing...it's almost like its 2000 and this is The Wild Party!

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Elaine Stritch Biographies#2
Posted: 11/5/19 at 10:43am

I read "Still Here" a couple of weeks ago.  I was disappointed, frankly.   There just wasn't enough in-depth analysis of why Stritch behaved so badly to everyone.  Her family life was portrayed as loving.  She really didn't have a lot of personal drama.  She made some bad career decisions and maybe that was the reason she drank so much and was just such a demon to people, but that's my interpretation, not the author's.  For someone who could be so dynamic on stage and the subject of a million juicy Broadway anecdotes, the bottom line for me was that offstage, there really wasn't much going on, and that made for a curiously static, staid biography where she simply comes off as a mean bully most of the time, with no reason.  I think you needed Stritch to tell her own story - as she told so many stories, not so much sticking to the truth but so very entertaining--to make it really sing.  And of course, she didn't, not in a memoir.  

kofler22
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Elaine Stritch Biographies#3
Posted: 11/5/19 at 10:46am

Nothing like At liberty!!

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Elaine Stritch Biographies#4
Posted: 11/5/19 at 11:03am

Or the fantastic 2014 documentary ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME.  Done with her full cooperation and involvement. 

 

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Elaine Stritch Biographies#5
Posted: 11/5/19 at 12:08pm

I read "Still Here" a couple of weeks ago.  I was disappointed, frankly.   There just wasn't enough in-depth analysis of why Stritch behaved so badly to everyone.  Her family life was portrayed as loving.  She really didn't have a lot of personal drama.  She made some bad career decisions and maybe that was the reason she drank so much and was just such a demon to people, but that's my interpretation, not the author's.  For someone who could be so dynamic on stage and the subject of a million juicy Broadway anecdotes, the bottom line for me was that offstage, there really wasn't much going on, and that made for a curiously static, staid biography where she simply comes off as a mean bully most of the time, with no reason.  I think you needed Stritch to tell her own story - as she told so many stories, not so much sticking to the truth but so very entertaining--to make it really sing.  And of course, she didn't, not in a memoir. 

Full disclosure, I know the author of the lesser known, "The End of Pretend" and aside from the bad review posted by someone who obviously was not close to Elaine, they had a very special bond and there is nothing "mortifying" at all in that book- that of course wasn't also filmed for the documentry around the same time this book was being complied. What you do get is a loving portrayal from a fan who became a great friend to her in her later years- I mean the man stayed at her home, met her family and friends, and accompanied her to appearances- she also supported his work as noted in the book, attending workshops of his musical, visiting his college to mentor students, etc. What he was able to glean from his time with her really is more valuable then any second-hand account included in "Still Here", it's her words on those pages, not anyone else's, she's telling her story.  I think it is less popular because it was not released by a huge publishing house, and the author isn't someone who previously worked for the NY Times, but is instead, the Head of a College Theatre Department in rural PA.  For your money, go for "The End of Pretend" which is also something Elaine explains in the book, something that is quite poignant. 

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Elaine Stritch Biographies#6
Posted: 11/5/19 at 6:54pm

I read Elaine Stritch: The End of Pretend" by John Bell, and its like he recorded every moment of their meetings.  It's kinda creepy and I can't believe Stritch would have ok'd this book....

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Elaine Stritch Biographies#7
Posted: 11/5/19 at 8:34pm
^its not a very glamorous time in her life, but neither was the documentary- however, it is important to realize that the documentary and “The End of Pretend” she had direct input in- the other book is secondhand and interviews, if you want it from the horse’s mouth, those are the better options.
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Elaine Stritch Biographies#8
Posted: 11/6/19 at 8:23pm

I've read 'Still Here' and I will say I was underwhelmed.  I've enjoyed Stritch's work for decades and her 'At Liberty' CD is one of the most entertaining listens I've ever had.  I also think she was an incomparable interpreter as a song stylist, and I'm not talking just Sondheim here.  She also was a damned good actress.

Still, I expected more from this book.  Stritch could be caring and thoughtful when so inclined, but there are countless stories of her neediness, abrasiveness, thoughtlessness and downright cruelty.  I would have liked a little window into where this dichotomy might have come from.  She was talented and eccentric, and lovable in her way, but she burned bridges needlessly, at times.  It would have been interesting to have a clue why.

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Elaine Stritch Biographies#9
Posted: 11/7/19 at 12:24pm

If you haven't seen it, watch the hilarious tributes to her by Nathan Lane, Hal Prince and others at her memorial, on YouTube. One of my faves: Nathan remembering her coming backstage and her first words after seeing him in the Addams Family: "Whatever they're paying you, it's not enough!"

 

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