Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the world that made him (M) by David Henry
“The latest biography of “the world’s most brilliant stand-up comedian” is the culmination of a project that took more than a decade (originally intended as a three-act screenplay) by screenwriter Henry and his brother, musician Joe.
Born in 1940 in Peoria, IL, Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor III was raised by his grandmother, who ran a brothel in which his mother “also turned tricks.” Raped at five by a teenage bully (who, decades later, appeared with his son seeking Pryor’s autograph), Pryor found respite from his oppressive childhood by acting in local theater. Leaving the first of six wives and his first two (of seven) children, Pryor arrived in New York City in 1963, embarking on a career that spanned clubs, television, and film, finding unparalleled success as a black performer in a racially stratified industry. Universally lauded as a genius, Pryor never overcame his drug addictions, spectacularly exemplified by his 1980 freebasing-induced self-immolation. More a compilation of assiduous research than a narrative-with irreverent profanity that echoes Pryor’s performances-this book should succeed in introducing a legend to new generations. Readers raised on dystopia will find Pryor’s life tragically epic.” – Library Journal
“One day you’re the sexiest man alive, and another day your face is like a flattened road-killed bird in the worst mug shot of all time.
In a career spanning five decades, Nick Nolte has endured the rites of Hollywood celebrity. Rising from obscurity to leading roles and Oscar nominations, he has been both celebrated and vilified in the media; survived marriages, divorces, and a string of romances; was named the Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine; and suffered public humiliation over his drug and alcohol issues, including a drug-fueled trip down a long road of nothingness that ended in arrest. Despite these ups and downs, Nolte has remained true to the craft he loves, portraying a diverse range of characters with his trademark physicality and indelible gravelly voice. Already 35 when his performance in the 1976 miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man launched him to stardom, Nolte never learned to play by Hollywood’s rules…” – publisher
“*Starred Review* If you’ve been paying attention for the last few decades, you’re probably familiar with the career of Billy Crystal: his stand-up roots, his controversial role on the sitcom Soap, his run on Saturday Night Live, his Oscar-hosting turn, his movies (City Slickers and When Harry Met Sally, among many others). Why, you might be wondering, do I need to read the book when I already know the guy? Here’s one reason: the book is massively laugh-out-loud funny. Here, on the very second page, for example, he writes about getting older: Why does God make everything small that should be big and everything big that should be small? Like my nuts, why are they now HUGE? Every time I sit on the toilet, I make tea with my balls. If you’re not laughing, then you didn’t read that right. Crystal, who turned 65 in March 2013, reflects on his life and career and the joys of aging, and the book has a lot of surprises, ranging from the story of how he created the character of Fernando (the You look mahvelous guy) to his brief stint as a player with the New York Yankees. Hollywood memoirs don’t come much more entertaining than this one, and the book reinforces one thing we’ve always known about Crystal: he’s a genuinely funny, genuinely nice guy” – Booklist
“A revealing and incisive account of the King of Late Night at the height of his fame and power, by his lawyer, wingman, fixer, and closest confidant. From 1962 until 1992, Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show and permeated the American consciousness. In the ’70s and ’80s he was the country’s highest-paid entertainer and its most enigmatic. He was notoriously inscrutable, as mercurial (and sometimes cruel) off-camera as he was charming and hilarious onstage. During the apex of his reign, Carson’s longtime lawyer and best friend was Henry Bushkin, who now shows us Johnny Carson with a breathtaking clarity and depth that nobody else could. From the moment in 1970 when Carson hired Bushkin (who was just twenty-seven) until the moment eighteen years later when they parted ways, the author witnessed and often took part in a string of escapades that still retain their power to surprise and fascinate us.” – publisher
“Relying on years of extensive research and interviews with insiders who know Nicholson best, acclaimed biographer Marc Eliot sheds new light on Nicholson’s life on and off the screen. From Nicholson’s working class childhood in New Jersey, where family secrets threatened to tear his family apart, to raucous nights on the town with Warren Beatty and tumultuous relationships with starlets like Michelle Phillips, Anjelica Huston, and Lara Flynn Boyle, to movie sets working with such legendary directors and costars as Dennis Hopper, Stanley Kubrick, Meryl Streep, and Roman Polanski, Eliot paints a sweeping picture of the breadth of Nicholson’s fifty-year career in film, as well as an intimate portrait of his personal life.” – publisher