Warren Beatty: A Private Man (Random House Large Print)

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9780375434624: Warren Beatty: A Private Man (Random House Large Print)
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“Whatever you have read or heard about me through articles or gossip, forget it. I am nothing like that Warren Beatty. I am nothing like what you have read.” —Warren Beatty

Warren Beatty guarded his privacy even before he became a movie star, when he burst onto the screen in 1961 as the earnestly handsome all-American boy in Splendor in the Grass. When he started acting, Beatty kept secret the fact that actress Shirley MacLaine, already a star, was his older sister. Over time, he has cultivated a mystique, giving few interviews and instructing others not to talk about him. Until now.

Through years of groundbreaking research, lauded biographer Suzanne Finstad gained unprecedented access to Beatty’s family, close friends, and film colleagues, including such luminaries in the arts and politics as Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Leslie Caron, Robert Towne, Mike Nichols, and Senators John McCain, George McGovern, and Gary Hart. Weaving hundreds of these candid interviews, photographs from private albums, personal letters, diaries, and the previously unpublished papers of the late Natalie Wood and mentors such as directors Elia Kazan and George Stevens, playwrights Clifford Odets and William Inge, and agent Charles Feldman, Warren Beatty unveils the real Beatty—a complex, sensitive visionary torn between the “fairly puritanical, football-playing boy” from Virginia and his Hollywood playboy image.

Finstad paints a rich, fascinating portrait of the secretive film legend, taking us back to the “unrealized genius” parents who molded arguably the most famous brother and sister in Hollywood history, tracing the family influences and events in Beatty’s past that directly inspired McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait, Reds, Ishtar, Dick Tracy, Bugsy, Love Affair, and Bulworth, and led to his political activism, culminating in a near-bid for the White House. Finstad constructs the definitive, myth-shattering account of Beatty’s evolution from Hollywood’s enfant terrible to producer of the revolutionary Bonnie and Clyde, launching him as the premier actor/director/writer/producer of his generation, the only person to twice earn Oscar nominations in all five major categories.

Here also is the truth about Beatty the lover, setting the record straight on his storied relationships with such iconic actresses and beauties as Jane Fonda, Joan Collins, Natalie Wood, Leslie Caron, Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn, Michelle Phillips, Diane Keaton, Isabelle Adjani, and Madonna. Finstad’s astute insights illuminate Beatty’s private struggle to attain happiness, his complicated bond with his sister, Shirley, and the deeper reasons why, at fifty-four, the archetypal bachelor married actress Annette Bening.

Stunningly researched, engrossing, and exquisitely detailed, Warren Beatty: A Private Man gives us a new understanding of the enigmatic, fiercely intelligent star who embodies the American dream.

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Amazon.com Exclusive: Joe Laitin and Warren Beatty Excerpted Interview
Excerpt and photographs courtesy of the author, Suzanne Finstad, by permission of Peter Laitin.


Beatty with Joe Laitin
JL: There apparently aren't that many people who really know you anyway. I don't know whether you deliberately keep people at arm's length. I suppose you do...

WB: I am finding more and more that it's really very hard to please a lot of people. And I would say it's impossible. And so I have been allowing that need to try to please a lot of people to slip away from me in the past couple of years. So that I realize now that there will be a lot of people that dislike me just on principle, there will be a lot of people that will resent me, there will be a lot of people that will like me, and there'll be an awful lot of people that just don't really care one way or the other. So if I allowed myself to be upset by that, then I'd be a pretty upset person.

So I've got to just enjoy my own work. My business is not exploitation and my business is not selling pictures. My business is not figuring out good angles for press and so forth. My business, or my work, is acting right now. And once I forget about that, I'm gonna be a boring actor and I'm not gonna have any fun at it. And that's why I hire people to do--that's why I have an agent, that's why I have somebody who's a press representative, and that's why I have a business manager. Because I don't want to think about those things. And I find that if I try to think about them, I don't do it well. All I know is when I'm enjoying my work in acting and when I'm not, when I think I'm doing well and when I don't.

It's like the more attention that is brought to you, the more obstacles that are put in your path, just doing an honest day's work creatively. There are more obstacles.


With sister Shirley Maclaine
It's nice to have a guy from Time magazine want to come and talk to you on the set. On the other hand, he wouldn't want to come and talk to you if you were doing a play off-Broadway somewhere, and maybe you would be able to concentrate a little better. And if he comes onto the set, you've gotta either be polite to him and acknowledge his presence and talk to him, or you have to forget about him--if he tries to talk to you, ignore him and just think about your work. In which case, he's gonna think you're a nut, or that you're trying to be rude to him or offend him in some way. And that's why, when a lot of strangers come on the set, I usually go to my dressing room or something. But there can be an awful lot of those obstacles, and those obstacles, I think they can just eat you up.
JL: Are these quotes of yours and Shirley's [Maclaine] in print without any direct communication between you, is that widening whatever breach there is between you, Warren?

WB: Not on my part, it certainly isn't, and I don't feel that there's a specific breach between us. And I'm sure that she feels the same way...

JL: Now this is the only part that I'm really interested in, because if you don't really want to communicate with her, I'm very curious to know why. It may explain a part of your character that I don't know anything about.

WB: Well, I don't blame you for being curious, but that doesn't mean that I've got to, you know, go into my sister.

About the Author:

Suzanne Finstad received the Frank Wardlaw Prize for her first book, Heir Not Apparent. Her most recent, Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood, was a New York Times bestseller and named the best film book of 2001 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Several of her works have been made into films. She lives in California and has a law degree.

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