Hank and Jim: The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart

Scott Eyman. Simon & Schuster, $29 (416p) ISBN 978-1-5011-0217-2
Henry Fonda (The Grapes of Wrath) and James Stewart (It’s a Wonderful Life), from their days as starving stage actors to their primes as Hollywood stars and into their twilight years, maintained a steady, unwavering friendship that sustained both men. In this breezy, entertaining dual biography, Eyman (John Wayne: The Life and Legend) avoids hagiography, though he clearly admires his subjects. Fonda was liberal and Stewart conservative, but both came from small-town stock, were decidedly professional, often insecure, and, together, boyishly fun loving, bringing out the best in each other. They first became friends as roommates in New York City after spending time with the University Players, a summer theater troupe. Eyman highlights WWII’s importance in both men’s lives—Fonda served in naval intelligence and Stewart in the Army Air Corps, and Stewart remained in the Air Force Reserves after the war, rising to the rank of brigadier general. Fonda’s fraught relationship with his children also comes to the fore, especially through quotations from the extensive interviews Eyman conducted with family and friends of both Fonda and Stewart. Balanced analyses of their film and stage performances pepper the study, as Eyman perceptively charts the courses of two legendary Hollywood careers. Agent: Mort Janklow, Janklow & Nesbit. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/24/2017
Release date: 10/24/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Library Binding - 978-1-4328-4420-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-68168-962-3
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