No, not the astronomical variety, but the performers who have contributed their numerous talents in the Business known as Show. On stages around the world and on screens large and small, these multitalented folk exemplify the show biz anthem, “That’s Entertainment.”

One of the earliest movie stars—dating back to the silents—was swashbuckling John Gilbert, “the great lover,” who rivaled even Rudolph Valentino at the box office. After appearing in small roles, he moved to MGM in 1924, where he became a full-fledged star. Eve Golden’s John Gilbert details this Lothario’s colorful life and career.

“Legendary” is justifiably used in the case of Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star, indeed. Not only did this diva (1899–1983) rule with an iron fist, her most famous film—1950’s Sunset Boulevard—has lived on as an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which played nearly 1,000 performances on Broadway.

Even the most skilled performers need guidance—enter the director. Born in 1902, William Wyler received his first Best Director Oscar nomination for Sinclair Lewis’s Dodsworth, in 1936. Eight nominations followed (he’s the most nominated director in the history of the Academy Awards), plus three gold statues. Both Bette Davis and Lillian Hellman considered him America’s finest director; read Gabriel Miller’s William Wyler and see why. Jack O’Brien’s The Accidental Education of an Unintentional Director is nothing if not modest—this uncommonly versatile stage director has done impressive work across the U.S., winning three Tony Awards and nominated for seven other productions.

Jimmy Stewart: A Wonderful Life limns the star’s self-effacing manner and down-home drawl; many of his 70-plus films are visions of America as it wanted to be seen. Harry Truman once said, “If Bess and I had a son, we’d want him to be just like Jimmy Stewart.”

Not an easy subject to pin down, Dennis Hopper—actor, filmmaker, artist. The myriad interviews in Tom Folsom’s Hopper describe him as a rebel, a madman, and more. After a stint at the Actors Studio, he appeared in two James Dean films, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. Easy Rider (1969) still stands as his pivotal achievement.

Unsinkable is right on: not only did Debbie Reynolds receive an Oscar nomination for her performance in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (and some 60 other movies), but the singer/dancer/actress/comedienne, born in 1932, clearly is on a roll. Just as the Titanic’s Molly Brown wasn’t sinkable, Reynolds tells it like it is.

Not unlike the Energizer Bunny, Cherilyn Sarkisian, aka Cher, keeps on ticking. The beat goes on and on for this superstar entertainer who’s still going strong in her 60s, while improbably transforming herself from an artificial, glossy “fashionplate” singer into one of the most enduringly successful stars of our time. Check her out onscreen in Burlesque, and in the pages of Backbeat’s tome.

In TV’s early days, one celebrated show spawned its own quartet of stars—not only did The Mary Tyler Moore Show launch its star’s career, but Mary’s pals became household names as well—Rhoda (Valerie Harper), Lou (Ed Asner), and Ted (Ted Knight) enjoyed an eight year run at the top of the charts—now read their stories in Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted.

Broadway’s take on Oscar, the Tonys, are hotly contested, as viewed in Peter Filichia’s Strippers, Showgirls, and Sharks: A Very Opinionated History of the Broadway Musicals That Did Not Win the Tony Award, and it isn’t all pretty.

PW’s Top 10: Performing Arts

John Gilbert: The Last of the Silent Film Stars. Eve Golden. Univ. Press of Kentucky, Mar.

Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star. Stephen Michael Shearer. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, June

William Wyler: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s Most Celebrated Director. Gabriel Miller. Univ. Press of Kentucky, June

Jack Be Nimble: The Accidental Education of an Unintentional Director. Jack O’Brien. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June

Jimmy Stewart: A Wonderful Life. Jonathan Coe. Arcade, Mar.

Hopper: A Journey into the American Dream. Tom Folsom. It Books, Mar.

Unsinkable. Debbie Reynolds and Dorian Hannaway. William Morrow, Apr.

Cher: All I Really Want to Do. Daryl Easlea and Eddi Fiegel. Backbeat Books, Mar.

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made the Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic. Jennifer Armstrong. S&S, May

Strippers, Showgirls, and Sharks: A Very Opinionated History of the Broadway Musicals That Did Not Win the Tony Award. Peter Filichia. St. Martin’s, May

Performing Arts Listings

Antique Collectors' Club

Masterpieces of Russian Stage Design: 1880–1930 by John E. Bowlt et al. (Feb. 1, hardcover, $95, ISBN 978-1851496884) features an introduction by top academics in the field and charts the most important interludes within the Russian cultural renaissance of the early 20th century.

Applause Theatre & Cinema Books

Doctor Who FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Most Famous Time Lord in the Universe by Dave Thompson (Mar. 1, trade paper, $22.99, ISBN 978-1557838544) tells the story of this popular program’s first American airings on PBS in the 1970s, following its megasuccess on U.K. TV.

What Were They Thinking? Carrie, from Book to Movie to Musical by Lawrence D. Cohen (May 1, trade paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1476874623). What indeed? Book and movie were swell, but the 1988 Broadway musical played five performances, became an instant fiasco, and launched a 1992 book, Not Since Carrie: 40 Years of Broadway Musical Flops.

Bob and Ray, Keener than Most Persons by David Pollock (May 1, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-1557838308) traces the origins and development of this comic pair’s singular sensibility that defined their dozens of radio and TV series, later motion picture roles, Carnegie Hall gigs, and a hit Broadway show—they were together for 43 years..


Katharine Hepburn: An Independent Woman by Ronald Bergan (Mar. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1611457148) provides a glimpse into the life of this enigmatic Hollywood legend by charting both her seven-decade career and her off-screen relationships with a number of her leading men.

Jimmy Stewart: A Wonderful Life by Jonathan Coe (Mar. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1611457124). From leading man to national icon, this actor typified the quintessential American male. In a career that spanned 43 years and 77 films, he was nominated for four Academy Awards, including It’s a Wonderful Life, and won Best Actor for 1940’s The Philadelphia Story.

Atlantic Monthly

Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison by Michael Daly (July 2, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0802119049). Rich in period Americana, this touching tale centers on a famous circus pachyderm who met an unusual end. In 2003, a memorial for Topsy was erected at the Coney Island Museum.

Atria Books

VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave by Nina Blackwood et al. (May 7, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1451678123). The original MTV VJs offer a behind-the-scenes oral history of the early years of MTV (circa 1981–1985), when it was exploding, reshaping the culture, and forming the “MTV generation.”

Backbeat Books

(dist. by Hal Leonard)

Cher: All I Really Want to Do by Daryl Easlea and Eddi Fiegel (Mar. 19, trade paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1617134524) takes readers through the ups and downs of a career that spans more than 50 years in show business—singer (100+ million records sold), actress (Oscar-winner for Moonstruck), TV star, etc.

Bene Factum Publishing

(dist. by IPG)

It’s All Going Terribly Wrong: The Accidental Showman by Michael Parker (Apr. 1, hardcover, $32.95, ISBN 978-1903071656). Parker, a typical young 1960s British army officer, became, surprisingly, a remarkable international showman, staging myriad events in Europe, America, and the Middle East.

John Blake

(dist. by IPG)

Game of Thrones A–Z by Martin Howden (Apr. 1, trade paper, $12.99, ISBN 978-1857829969) explores the combination of political intrigue and family dysfunction against the epic fantasy background of this highly successful series—and provides a pop culture overview.

Daniel Day Lewis: The Biography by Laura Jackson (May 1, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1857826050) portrays one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars—recently Oscar-nominated for Best Actor in Lincoln—as a complex figure, a chameleon Method actor about whom little is really known.

Booth-Clibborn Editions

Anna Pavlova: Twentieth Century Ballerina by Jane Pritchard and Caroline Hamilton (Mar. 5, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1861543356) celebrates the life of the world’s most famous ballerina. Originally from the Imperial Russian Ballet, Pavlova performed for various impresarios, including Sergei Diaghilev, creator of the Ballets Russes, and formed her own dance company in 1912.


Rita Moreno: A Memoir by Rita Moreno (Mar. 5, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0451416376). The legendary film, TV, and stage performer shares her life story—both personal and professional—from her early years in Puerto Rico to her success on Broadway and her Oscar-winning role in West Side Story. She was the first Hispanic to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony.

Chicago Review Press

(dist. by IPG)

The Man Who Seduced Hollywood: The Life and Loves of Greg Bautzer, Tinseltown’s Most Powerful Lawyer (May 1, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1613745793). In addition to serving as billionaire Howard Hughes’s lawyer, Bautzer was romantically linked to Lana Turner, Ginger Rogers, Joan Crawford, and many others.

The Best Film You’ve Never Seen: 35 Directors Champion the Forgotten or Critically Savaged Movies They Love by Robert K. Elder (June 1, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1569768389) offers a “something for everyone” treasure trove—an unsung noir (The Chase), a famous flop (Can’t Stop the Music), a misbegotten theatrical adaptation (The Homecoming), and more.

Disney Editions

The Art of Oz The Great and Powerful by Grant Curtis (May 5, trade paper, $40, ISBN 978-1423170914) looks at the new film version’s cast and crew (James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, director Sam Raimi) and provides behind-the-scenes stories plus pre- and post-production details.

Duke Univ. Press

Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style, and the 1960s, edited by Lauren M.E. Goodlad et al. (Mar. 4, trade paper, $27.95, ISBN 978-0822354185). Scholars explore the groundbreaking drama of this hit series in relation to fashion, history, feminism, civil rights, consumerism, etc.

New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut by B. Ruby Rich (Mar. 12, trade paper, $25.95, ISBN 978-0822354284). Rich has been involved with queer filmmaking—as critic, festival curator, publicist, and champion—since its emergence in the 1980s; she collects the best of her writing.

Thomas Dunne Books

Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star by Stephen Michael Shearer (June 11, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-1250001559). As Hollywood’s first successful glamour queen, Swanson in the 1920s became a keen businesswoman, choosing her scripts (and her on- and off-screen leading men), and extending her career more than 60 years. Her astounding comeback in Sunset Boulevard (1950) is the stuff of Hollywood legend.

ECW Press

(dist. by IPG)

When Variety Was King: Memoir of a TV Pioneer—Featuring Jackie Gleason, Sonny and Cher, Hee Haw, and More by Frank Peppiat (Apr. 1, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1770411579). This influential producer created myriad celebrated TV shows using a cast of Hollywood celebrities and turning entertainers into household names.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Jack Be Nimble: The Accidental Education of an Unintentional Director by Jack O’Brien (June 18, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0865478985). This widely respected director has worked in regional theater and on Broadway, where he’s won Tony Awards for such diverse works as Henry IV, Hairspray, and Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia.


I Think I Love You by Shirley Jones (July 2, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1476725956). From her Oscar-winning turn in Elmer Gantry (playing a prostitute) to the Partridge Family’s mom, Jones dishes the dirt in a memoir ranging from heartwarming and hilarious to shocking and intimate, including her relationship with rock star stepson David Cassidy.

Gotham Books

Lucky Me: My Life With—and Without—My Mom, Shirley MacLaine by Sachi Parker (Feb. 7, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1592407880). The only child of the renowned Oscar-winning actress (who recently acted up a storm in PBS’s Downton Abbey) offers a novel look at Hollywood from an uncommon perspective.


The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir by William Friedkin (Apr. 9, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0061775123). The distinguished director reflects on his career, including 1971’s The French Connection, which won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director, and The Exorcist (1973), considered by many critics to have revolutionized the horror genre. 40,000-copy announced first printing.

The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines by Shohreh Aghdashloo (June 4, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0062009807). The Oscar nominee and Emmy Award–winning actress, best known for 2003’s House of Sand and Fog, shares her journey—from a childhood in the Shah’s Iran to Hollywood’s red carpets—in this memoir of family, faith, and revolution. 35,000-copy announced first printing.


Alex Ko: From Iowa to Broadway, My Billy Elliot Story by Alex Ko (Apr. 30, hardcover, $16.99, ISBN 978-0062236012). Despite numerous odds to overcome—his dad’s death from cancer, financial difficulties, and serious injuries, Alex landed the title role in Broadway’s Billy Elliot at age 13.

Harper Design

Audrey in Rome by Luca Dotti et al. (Apr. 2, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0062238825) collects some 200 candid photos of the actress and style icon—many never published before and selected by Audrey Hepburn’s son, Dotti—during the 20 years she lived in Rome. 30,000-copy announced first printing.

Liberace Extravaganza! by Connie Furr Soloman and Jan Jewett (Apr. 2, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0062202550). This lavish showcase of the renowned musician’s dazzling, over-the-top wardrobe is timed to coincide with a Broadway musical, a movie, and a traveling exhibit. 40,000-copy announced first printing.


Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos (Apr. 2, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0062231833). Writer and star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Vardalos tells her hilarious and poignant road-to-parenting-through-adoption story that eventually leads her to her three-year-old daughter, reveals the chaos of parenting, and prompts her to become an advocate for adoption. 50,000-copy announced first printing.

IT Books

Hopper: A Journey into the American Dream by Tom Folsom (Mar. 5, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0062206947) charts— through the lens of the landscape of American popular culture—the rollicking career of Dennis Hopper, actor, artist, and wild man who died in May 2010.

Let Me Tell You Something: Life as a Real Housewife, Tough-Love Mother, and Street-Smart Businesswoman by Caroline Manzo (Mar. 26, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-0062218872) sets forth lessons for creating a happy and fulfilling life from the tell-it-like-it-is breakout star of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. 75,000-copy announced first printing.

Limelight Editions

Shakespeare for American Actors and Directors by Aaron Frankel (Apr. 1, trade paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-0879104511). To Brit or not to Brit, that is the question. According to writer/director Frankel, Shakespeare’s dramatic forte and the core of American acting make a perfect match.

Little, Brown

Vanished Years by Rupert Everett (Apr. 1, trade paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-0349000213). Following the British star’s 2007 memoir, Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins, this work offers stories from childhood to the present—surprising encounters, vivid portraits of friends and rivals, observations of celebrities and show business, and more.

Metropolitan Books

My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles by Peter Biskind (July 9, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0805097252). Based on long-lost recordings, America’s foremost film historian reveals conversations between director Jaglom and America’s great cultural provocateur and Oscar-winning filmmaker.

William Morrow

Unsinkable by Debbie Reynolds and Dorian Hannaway (Apr. 2, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0062213655). As befits this ebullient, legendary performer, her memoir tells an entertaining and moving tale of enduring friendships and family bonds, of hitting bottom and rising to the top, offering a deeply personal perspective on Hollywood from the MGM glory days to the present. 150,000-copy announced first printing.

Newmarket Press

Zero Dark Thirty: The Shooting Script by Mark Boal (Feb. 5, trade paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-0062276346). Boal, who won a passel of awards—including a 2008 Oscar—for his widely lauded Hurt Locker script, has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Zero Dark Thirty.

W.W. Norton

On My Way: The Untold Story of Rouben Mamoulian, George Gershwin, and "Porgay and Bess" by Joseph Horowitz (July 29, hardcover, $26.95 ISBN 978-0393240139) details the origins of this operatic masterwork, focusing not only on composer Gershwin but on its original director, the controversial Mamoulian, whose reviews, reports Horowitz, were both laudatory and scathing.

Oldcastle Books

(dist. By IPG)

Screenplays: How to Write and Sell Them by Craig Barry (May 1, trade paper, $29.95, ISBN 978-1842435038) guides readers through the necessary stages of writing and development, offering practical models, paradigms, and creative tasks.


(dist. by hal leonard)

Shakespeare on Theatre by William Shakespeare, edited by Nick de Somogyi (Apr. 23, trade paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1623160326) draws together familiar set pieces—“All the world’s a stage,” Hamlet’s encounters with the Players, Bottom’s amateur theatricals, and others—along with further insights into theater practice by the Bard’s contemporaries and rivals.

Chekhov on Theatre by Anton Chekhov, trans. by Stephen Mulrine, compiled by Jutta Hercher and Peter Urban (Apr. 23, trade paper, $19.95, ISBN 9781623160289). Complete with all of the playwright’s work, this title presents a vivid portrait of theatrical life in Moscow at the turn of the century.

Palgrave Macmillan

Tennessee Williams: A Literary Life by John Bak (Mar. 15, hardcover, $95, ISBN 978-0230273528). draws extensively from the playwright’s correspondences, notebooks, and archival papers to offer an original angle to the discussion of Williams’s life and work, and the times and circumstances that helped produce it.

Penguin Press

Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution—From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad by Brett Martin (July 25, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1594204197) analyzes breakout shows that have ushered in a new golden age for television— emerging from the shadow of film to become one of America’s most significant art forms.

Phaidon Press

Marlon Brando: Anatomy of an Actor by Florence Colombani (May 21, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-2866429232). Organized chronologically, this survey explores the actor’s life and work through 10 of his most celebrated film roles.

Random House

The Ordinary Acrobat: A Journey into the Wondrous World of the Circus, Past and Present by Duncan Wall (Feb. 26, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0307271723). As a college student in Paris, Wall became so enchanted with the circus that he applied on a whim to the training program at the École Nationale des Artes du Cirque—and was accepted.

Running Press

Family Guy: Hall of Shame, Featuring Wicked Sweet Sounds by Running Press (Apr. 2, hardcover, $16.95, ISBN 978-0762448678) includes eight sound buttons so fans can relive the best lines and hear memorable lines from fan favorites.

A Brief Guide to Jeeves and Wooster by Nigel Cawthorne (Apr. 23, trade paper, $13.95, ISBN 978-0762448050). This comic pair—Reginald Jeeves and his valet, Bertie Wooster—are among the best-known characters created by British humorist P.G. Wodehouse (1881–1975); the duo have appeared in novels, plays, and—of course—the BBC.

Santa Monica Press

(dist. by IPG)

Rainer on Film: Thirty Years of Film Writing in a Turbulent and Transformative Era by Peter Rainer (May 1, trade paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-1595800770) surveys the author’s criticism of films both well-known and obscure that are drawn from a wide range of publications.

Simon & Schuster

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made the Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic by Jennifer Armstrong (May 7, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1451659207) chronicles the making of a classic, groundbreaking TV show—which aired from 1970 to 1977—by its producers, writers, and cast.

Square One

Black Broadway: African Americans on the Great White Way by Stewart F. Lane (May 27, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0757003882). This illustrated history of African-American struggles and triumphs highlights the rocky road that black actors have traveled to reach Broadway recognition.

St. Martin’s

Strippers, Showgirls, and Sharks: A Very Opinionated History of the Broadway Musicals That Did Not Win the Tony Award by Peter Filichia (May 28, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1250018434). Filichia, theater critic for the Newark Star Ledger, takes a look at Broadway musicals by turning the prestigious Tony Award on its head.

SUNY Press

Hollywood’s New Yorker: The Making of Martin Scorsese by Marc Raymond (Apr. 1, hardcover, $85, ISBN 978-1438445717) probes the career of the distinguished director, producer, and screenwriter, who in 1990 founded the Film Foundation (a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation) and in 2007 established the World Cinema Foundation.

Theatre Communications Group

(dist. by Consortium)

The Adventures of Eugene Lee by Eugene Lee, foreword by Oskar Eustis and Lorne Michaels (Apr. 16, trade paper, $30, ISBN 978-1559364201) offers an illustrated autobiography by one of the theater’s foremost professional set designers, whose credits, dating back to 1970, include such hits as Ragtime, Wicked, On the Waterfront, and Merrily We Roll Along.

Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, Revised and Complete Edition by Tony Kushner (Mar. 19, $30, hardcover, ISBN 978-1559363952). Originally published in 1993 (and premiering that year on Broadway), this two-part, Pulitzer Prize–winning play, set in New York City 1985, has become a singular touchstone of the AIDS epidemic.

Transaction Publishers

The American City in the Cinema by James A. Clapp (June 30, hardcover, $39.95, ISBN 978-1412851480) explores the reciprocal relationship between the city and the cinema within the dimensions of time and space. Exploiting the increasing popularity of large cities and urban lifestyles, movies chronicled cities and the stories they generated.

Univ. Press of Kentucky

John Gilbert, the Last of the Silent Film Stars by Eve Golden (Mar. 1, hardcover, $39.95, ISBN 978-0813141626). Gilbert (1897–1936) was among the world’s most recognizable stars during the silent era—a swashbuckling figure on screen and off, accompanied by torrid tales of romance with Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich.

William Wyler: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s Most Celebrated Director by Gabriel Miller (June 1, hardcover, $39.95 ISBN 978-0813142098). During his 45-year career, Wyler (1902–1981) pushed filmmaking boundaries with innovative cinematography; he received Best Director Oscars for Mrs. Miniver, The Best Years of Our Lives, Ben-Hur. and Funny Girl.

Univ. Press of Mississippi

Mary Wickes: I Know I’ve Seen That Face Before by Steve Taravella (June 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1604739052). This salty, scene-stealing comedienne perfected her loudmouth persona in every medium for more than 60 years. Particularly choice was a 1951 I Love Lucy episode in which she tormented Lucy at the ballet bar (cf. YouTube).

Visible Ink Press

(dist. by IPG)

The Horror Show Guide: The Ultimate Frightfest of Movies by Mike Mayo (Apr. 1, trade paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1578594207) reviews 1,000 of the wickedest and wackiest from every age of horror—including such overlooked and underappreciated gems as Alice, Sweet Alice and Daughters of Darkness.

Wayne State Univ. Press

Time of Our Lives: Dirty Dancing and Popular Culture, edited by Sian Lincoln and Yannis Tzioumakis (Mar. 1, trade paper, $29.95, ISBN 978-0814336243) considers the phenomenal adulation surrounding the 1987 movie that made Patrick Swayze a megastar and grossed $10 million in 10 days.