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About Shawn Levy
Shawn Levy is the author of eleven books, including the bestsellers "Rat Pack Confidential," "Paul Newman: A Life," and "The Castle on Sunset." He served as film critic of The Oregonian from 1997 to 2012 and KGW-TV from 2009 to 2016. A former senior editor of American Film and a former associate editor of Box Office, he has published stories in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, The Black Rock Beacon, The Independent, Interview, Film Comment, Movieline, and Sight and Sound, among many other publications. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he serves on the board of directors of Operation Pitch Invasion (www.pitch-invasion.org). To get a peak into his head, visit www.shawnlevy.com.
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Books By Shawn Levy
For nearly ninety years, Hollywood's brightest stars have favoured the Chateau Marmont as a home away from home. Filled with deep secrets but hidden in plain sight, its evolution parallels the growth of Hollywood itself.
Perched above the Sunset Strip like a fairy-tale castle, the Chateau seems to come from another world entirely. An apartment-house-turned-hotel, it has been the backdrop for generations of gossip and folklore: 1930s bombshell Jean Harlow took lovers during her third honeymoon there; director Nicholas Ray slept with his sixteen-year-old Rebel Without a Cause star Natalie Wood; Anthony Perkins and Tab Hunter met poolside and began a secret affair; Jim Morrison swung from the balconies, once nearly falling to his death; John Belushi suffered a fatal overdose in a private bungalow; Lindsay Lohan got the boot after racking up nearly $50,000 in charges in less than two months.
Much of what's happened inside the Chateau's walls has eluded the public eye - until now. With wit and prowess, Shawn Levy recounts the wild parties and scandalous liaisons, creative breakthroughs and marital breakdowns, births and untimely deaths that the Chateau Marmont has given rise to. Vivid, salacious and richly informed, the book is a glittering tribute to Hollywood as seen from the suites and bungalows of its most hallowed hotel.
A scandalous story of money, drugs, fast cars, high politics, lowly crime, hundreds of beautiful woman and one man, Porfirio Rubirosa from the celebrated author of RAT PACK CONFIDENTIAL.
The Dominican playboy Porfirio Rubirosa died at 8:00 am on July 5, 1965, when he smashed his Ferrari into a tree in Paris. He was 56 years old and on his way home to his 28-year-old fifth wife, Odile Rodin, after a night's debauch in celebration of a victorious polo match.
In the previous four decades, Rubirosa had on four separate occasions married one of the wealthiest women in the world, and had slept with hundreds of other women including Marilyn Monroe, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Ava Gardner, and Eva Peron. He had worked as aide-de-camp to one of the most vicious fascists the century ever knew. He had served as an ambassador to France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Argentina and Vichy. He had been a jewel thief, a forger, a shipping magnate, a treasure hunter. He had held his own with the world's most powerful and notorious men including John F. Kennedy, Josef Goebbels and Juan Peron. He ran comfortably celebrity circles, counting among his friends Frank Sinatra, Ted Kennedy, David Niven, Sammy Davis Jr., and fellow playboy Aly Khan.
He lived for the moment and, at his death, faded without a legacy: no children, no fortune, no entity – financial, cultural, even architectural – that bore his name. There will never be anyone else like Porfiro Rubirosa. Indeed, the really amazing thing is that there ever was. Shawn Levy – celebrated author of RAT PACK CONFIDENTIAL, and READY, STEADY, GO – has been given unique access to primary material including FBI and CIA files in his search for the last playboy.
The first biography of the Rat Pack – Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop et al – the original Swingers. Brilliant and beautifully written story of their rise and fall, and their connections with the Kennedys and the Mafia.
This edition does not include illustrations.
They alit in Las Vegas for a month to make a movie and play a historic nightclub gig they called the Summit; they hit Miami, the Utah desert, Palm Springs, Chicago, Atlantic City, Beverly Hills, Hollywood back lots, illegal gambling dens, saloons, yachts, private jets, the White House itself.
It was sauce and vinegar and eau de cologne and sour mash whiskey and gin and smoke and perfume and silk and neon and skinny lapels and tail fins and rockets to the sky.
It was swinging and sighing and being a sharpie, it was cutting a figure and digging a scene.
It was Frank and Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin and Peter Lawford for a while and Joey Bishop when they asked him and Jack Kennedy and Sam Giancana and tables full of cronies and who knew how many broads.
It was the ultimate spasm of traditional showbiz – both the last and the most of its kind.
It was the Rat Pack.
It was beautiful.
‘Rat Pack Confidential’ – you’re never far from a cocktail, a swingin’ affair and a fist-fight.
SUNDAY TIMES FILM BOOK OF THE YEAR
'Uproariously readable ... Levy is a master of the group biography' Sunday Times
'Teeming with satisfying gossipy details' Guardian
'Exalts the intoxicating, beguiling dreaminess of Rome in its celluloid heyday' TLS
1950s Rome. From the ashes of war, the Eternal City is reborn as the epicentre of film, style and boldfaced libertinism. Movie stars including Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor flock to Cinecittà studio and mix with blue bloods and bohemians at the bars on Via Veneto, while behind them trail street photographers in pursuit of the most unflattering and dramatic portraits of fame.
In a fast-paced, kaleidoscopic narrative, Shawn Levy recreates Rome's ascent with compelling tales of its glitterati and artists, down to every last outrageous detail of the city's magnificent transformation into 'Hollywood on the Tiber'.
Paul Newman, who died in 2008, achieved superstar status by playing charismatic renegades, broken heroes, and winsome anti-heroes in such classic films as The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Verdict and The Color of Money. And for all the diverse parts he played on the silver screen, Newman occupied nearly as many roles off it. He was a loving husband and family man, a fund raiser, sold his own brand of pasta sauce to make millions for charity, drove racing cars, and much more.
Shawn Levy reveals the many sides of this legendary actor in the most comprehensive biography of the star yet published. We see Newman the consummate professional, a stickler for details and a driven worker. In his private life he played the roles of loyal son and brother, supportive husband – married to Joanne Woodward for 50 years – and responsible provider for six children. But Levy shows that Newman and his life were by no means perfect: there was a dalliance with another woman and failings as a father. The death of his only son Scott from a drug overdose in 1978 would haunt Newman for the rest of his life.
Ultimately, the author reveals how Newman was able to blend his many roles and become a man of great integrity who was successful at almost everything he tried. It is a fascinating portrait of an extraordinarily gifted man and will leave readers feeling that they have slipped through the security gate and got to know a movie star who was famously guarded about his private life.
There's little debate that Robert De Niro is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, screen actors of his generation, perhaps of all time. His work, particularly in the first 20 years of his career, is unparalleled. Mean Streets, the Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, the Deer Hunter, and Raging Bull all dazzled moviegoers and critics alike, displaying a talent the likes of which had rarely--if ever--been seen. De Niro become known for his deep involvement in his characters, assuming that role completely into his own life, resulting in extraordinary, chameleonic performances.
Yet little is known about the off-screen De Niro--he is an intensely private man, whose rare public appearances are often marked by inarticulateness and palpable awkwardness. It can be almost painful to watch at times, in powerful contrast to his confident movie personae. In this elegant and compelling biography, bestselling writer Shawn Levy writes of these many De Niros--the characters and the man--seeking to understand the evolution of an actor who once dove deeply into his roles as if to hide his inner nature, and who now seemingly avoids acting challenges, taking roles which make few apparent demands on his overwhelming talent. Following De Niro's roots as the child of artists (his father, the abstract painter Robert De Niro Sr., was widely celebrated) who encouraged him from an early age to be independent of vision and spirit, to his intense schooling as an actor, the rise of his career, his marriages, his life as a father, restauranteur, and businessman, and, of course, his current movie career, Levy has written a biography that reads like a novel about a character whose inner turmoil takes him to heights of artistry. His many friendships with the likes of Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Harvey Keitel, Shelley Winters, Francis Ford Coppola, among many others, are woven into this extraordinary portrait of DeNiro the man and the artist, also adding a depth of understanding not before seen.
Levy has had unprecedented access to De Niro's personal research and production materials, creating a new impression of the effort that went into the actor's legendary performances. The insights gained from DeNiro’s intense working habits shed new perspective on DeNiro’s thinking and portrayals and are wonderful to read. Levy also spoke to De Niro's collaborators and friends to depict De Niro's transition from an ambitious young man to a transfixing and enigmatic artist and cultural figure.
Shawn Levy has written a truly engaging, insightful, and entertaining portrait of one of the most wonderful film artists of our time, a book that is worthy of such a great talent.
Shawn Levy, author of ‘Rat Pack Confidential’ brings alive London in the swinging Sixties with a gripping, groovy story of those who created the scene that changed the world.
This edition does not include illustrations.
For a few years in the 1960s, London was the coolest city on earth: a spontaneous, dizzying stew of pop music, fashion, film, scandal, drugs & sex, crime, the avant garde underground and the tabloid obsession with fame. The rest of the world watched in awe.
Snaking through it are such eminent swinging Londoners as The Dreamer (actor Terence Stamp), The Chameleon (Rolling Stone Mick Jagger), The Loner (Beatles manager Brian Epstein), The Snapper (photographer David Bailey) and The Blue Blood (art dealer Robert Fraser), as well as such figures as comedian Peter Cook; hairdresser Vidal Sassoon; singer Marianne Faithfull; fashion designer Mary Quant; supermodels Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy; gangsters Ron and Reggie Kray; actor Michael Caine; actresses Catherine Deneuve, Lynn Redgrave and Julie Christie; pop groups The Beatles, The Who and The Kinks; filmmakers Roman Polanski, Richard Lester and Michelangelo Antonioni; as well as the various participants in the Profumo scandal, the Great Train Robbery, the rise of LSD, the radical underground, the heyday of the gambling club and the fashion boutique and various and sundry scandals, scenes and sensations.
Due to a combination of massive talent and sheer luck, they dominated the world scene. But the party was to end – after seven short years it seemed that everyone was now a Swinging Londoner and the same vibe was found in Paris, New York and San Francisco.
‘Ready, Steady, Go’ recreates the whole show and contrasts a series of emblematic lives with the great events that shaped the time. Through these stories, Shawn Levy, author of ‘Rat Pack Confidential’, shows how the city reinvented cool and then seemed to lose its swing altogether.
A hilarious and moving account of the trailblazing women of stand-up comedy who broke down walls so they could stand before the mic—perfect for fans of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Hacks
Today, women are ascendant in stand-up comedy, even preeminent. They make headlines, fill arenas, spawn blockbuster movies. But before Amy Schumer slayed, Tiffany Haddish killed, and Ali Wong drew roars, the very idea of a female comedian seemed, to most of America, like a punch line. And it took a special sort of woman—indeed, a parade of them—to break and remake the mold.
In on the Joke is the story of a group of unforgettable women who knocked down the doors of stand-up comedy so other women could get a shot. It spans decades, from Moms Mabley’s rise in Black vaudeville between the world wars, to the roadhouse ribaldry of Belle Barth and Rusty Warren in the 1950s and '60s, to Elaine May's co-invention of improv comedy, to Joan Rivers's and Phyllis Diller’s ferocious ascent to mainstream stardom. These women refused to be defined by type and tradition, facing down indifference, puzzlement, nay-saying, and unvarnished hostility. They were discouraged by agents, managers, audiences, critics, fellow performers—even their families. And yet they persevered against the tired notion that women couldn’t be funny, making space not only for themselves, but for the women who followed them.
Meticulously researched and irresistibly drawn, Shawn Levy's group portrait forms a new pantheon of comedy excellence. In on the Joke shows how women broke into the boys’ club, offered new ideas of womanhood, and had some laughs along the way.