As noted in the Playbill Vault, Jeanne Eagels began her legendary Broadway run as Sadie Thompson, “a prostitute at odds with a jungle missionary in Rain, primarily based on a W. Somerset Maugham quick story,” on this day, November 7, in 1922. We’re now just three years away from its centenary. Continue reading
As autumn leaves began to fall in the New York of 1929, Jeanne Eagels was recovering at home after eye surgery and seeking treatment from her physician at his Park Avenue hospital for a ‘nervous disorder’. After seeing him on October 3, she decided that an evening out might lift her spirits. She slipped into an evening gown complemented by several strands of pearls, and finally put on a fur coat to warm herself in the chilly night air.
However, her condition quickly worsened. A little before 7 pm, she left with her maid, and was driven some 60 blocks to Park Avenue, where her doctor was called from his downstairs residence, and she was escorted into a 5th floor examination room by a nurse. Jeanne removed her coat and was sitting on the bed when she suddenly went into convulsions. The nurse ran into the hall calling for the doctor’s assistant, but by the time they returned, it was too late.
Jeanne Eagels was dead at thirty-nine.
Exactly 89 years later, I am proud to announce that a revised and updated edition of Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed, the 2015 biography co-authored by myself and Eric M. Woodard, will shortly be published by Bearmanor Media. We retrace the life and career of the woman who rose from the streets of Kansas City to become a Broadway sensation, and lit up the silver screen: with new material on her loving, if troubled family background; her acting triumphs, including Rain and The Letter; her ill-starred marriage to athlete Ted Coy, and much more.
“Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed offers a startling look at the actress and her times … packed with detail and drama, and does bring Jeanne Eagels into 21st century focus as an ambitious, driven woman who often fought the system, but could not defeat her own demons.” – Liz Smith, New York Social Diary
“Their research, to this reader, sparkles and shines . . . the kind of meat one likes with this rich meal of a book.” – Stephen Michael Shearer, author of Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star
“What you are about to read is nothing short of remarkable.” – Michelle Morgan, author of The Ice Cream Blonde and Carole Lombard: Twentieth Century Star
Beautiful Stranger, Catholicism, Confessions on a Dancefloor, Desperately Seeking Susan, Evita, Ghosttown, Into the Groove, Jump, Like A Prayer, Live Aid, Live to Tell, Living for Love, Lucky Star, Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, Marvin Gaye, Material Girl, Ray of Light, Secret, Smash Hits, Wembley, Who's That Girl, William Orbit
From the age of eleven, my Saturdays would often include a trip to the record department at Boots to buy a 7-inch single. One of these was ‘Lucky Star’ by Madonna. Along with ‘Holiday’, it was one of her earliest songs played on the radio. Each weekend I stopped to gaze at her gorgeous album cover, but my savings rarely stretched to LPs. When I finally bought it, it had a different cover and my best friend (who wasn’t a fan) borrowed and never returned it. Continue reading
#Bronte200, Andrea Arnold, Anne Brontë, Brontë Parsonage, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Haworth, Kate Bush, Kathryn Hughes, Lily Cole, Making Thunder Roar, Muriel Spark, Poetry, Stella Vine, To Walk Invisible, Victorian Literature, Virginia Woolf, Wuthering Heights, Yorkshire
Last weekend, the historian and literary biographer Kathryn Hughes wrote for The Guardian about ‘The Strange Cult of Emily Brontë and the “Hot Mess” of Wuthering Heights,’ arguing that the middle Brontë sister was “no romantic child of nature but a pragmatic, self-interested Tory,” and that her only novel (which Hughes read as a teenager and struggled to finish) was a “screeching melodrama.” Published on the eve of Emily’s bicentenary, this clickbait sensation was only the latest in a long line of outraged and baffled responses to the writer and her work. Whereas her sisters Charlotte and Anne have been embraced by feminists, Emily – about whom little is known – remains something of an outcast. Continue reading
One of the finest movies ever made, Casablanca, celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. As I joined a nearly full house at the Duke of York’s in Brighton last Sunday, I wondered whom in the audience were watching it for the first time, and how many had seen it numerous times on television. Most chuckled in recognition of its oft-quoted dialogue, whether familiar from past viewings or references in popular culture. Continue reading
As the curtain falls on 2017, this blog also approaches its tenth anniversary. I’d like to thank everyone who has read (and hopefully enjoyed) my posts. This month I’ve been thinking a lot about Christine Keeler, who inspired my first novel and so much more. Wishing everyone a beautiful 2018 – and whatever this new year may bring, keep a dream in your hearts.
In 1991, Madonna’s fame was at its height. Truth or Dare, her behind-the-scenes documentary filmed during the Blond Ambition tour a year earlier, caused a sensation with its revealing take on the star. After reaching her pop apotheosis with Like a Prayer, she had struck out in new directions with ‘Vogue’ and ‘Justify My Love’ (a sultry, experimental track produced by Andre Betts, with a video banned by MTV.) Continue reading
My first memory of Diana is visual: that blue suit she wore and the sapphire ring, on the day of her engagement. When she married Charles in 1981 I was nine years old; she was twice my age, but still hardly a woman. Continue reading
Ella Fitzgerald was born a century ago today, on April 25, 1917. Her voice was like sunshine, or a glass of champagne. As a woman, she had great warmth and dignity. She was also a friend to Marilyn Monroe, who had been introduced to her work by jazz pianist and arranger Hal Schaefer in 1953. Continue reading
John Cecil Pringle was born on July 10, 1897, in Logan, Utah. His parents were both stock company actors, and after their divorce his mother married Walter Gilbert. After many years on the road, the family settled in California. Jack, as he was nicknamed, began working at Thomas Ince’s studio in 1915, graduating from bit parts to more substantial roles over the next five years. He married Olivia Burwell in 1918, but they separated a year later. Continue reading