When it comes to living life to its fullest, Rosalind Russell's character Auntie Mame is still the silver screen's exemplar. And Mame, the role Russell (1907-1976) would always be remembered for, embodies the rich and rewarding life Bernard F. Dick reveals in the first biography of this Golden Age star,Forever Mame: The Life of Rosalind Russell.
Drawing on personal interviews and information from the archives of Russell and her producer-husband Frederick Brisson, Dick begins with Russell's childhood in Waterbury, Connecticut, and chronicles her early attempts to achieve recognition after graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Frustrated by her inability to land a lead in a Broadway show, she headed for Hollywood in 1934 and two years later played her first starring role, the title character inCraig's Wife.
Dick discusses all of her films along with her triumphal return to Broadway, first in the musicalWonderful Townand later inAuntie Mame.Forever Mamedetails Russell's social circle of such stars as Loretta Young, Cary Grant, and Frank Sinatra. It traces an extraordinary career, ending with Russell's courageous battle against the two diseases that eventually caused her death: rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Russell devoted her last years to campaigning for arthritis research. So successful was she in her efforts to alert lawmakers to this crippling disease that a leading San Francisco research center is named after her.
Bernard F. Dick is a professor of communication and English at Fairleigh Dickinson University and is the author ofHal Wallis: Producer to the Stars,Engulfed: The Death of Paramount Picturesand the Birth of Corporate Hollywood, and other books.
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