cover image Swifty: My Life and Good Times

Swifty: My Life and Good Times

Irving Lazar, Author, Annette Tapert, With Simon & Schuster $23.5 (288p) ISBN 978-0-684-80418-7

The Brooklyn-bred son of Russian Jewish immigrants, brash, brawling Irving (``Swifty'') Lazar, who died last year at 87, rose from mean streets to become one of the most successful Hollywood and New York agents. This breezy, star-studded, wisecracking and hugely entertaining autobiographical memoir, completed by freelance writer Tapert after Lazar's death, is filled with sly self-revelations and golden anecdotes about Lazar's clients, among them Cole Porter, Moss Hart, Ira Gershwin, Irwin Shaw, Truman Capote, Clifford Odets, Neil Simon, Alan Jay Lerner, Larry McMurtry, William Saroyan, Vladimir Nabokov. There are also gimlet glimpses of Lazar's friends and acquaintances--Bogart, Sinatra, Brando, Groucho Marx, Walter Winchell, Count Basie, Sam Goldwyn, etc. Leaving the impression that he was a showman who invented himself as he went along, Lazar spins juicy tales of deal-making and actors' inflated egos while defending his poaching of other agents' clients and his notorious non-reading of clients' manuscripts (``everybody worked from synopses''). Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)