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How to Be a Movie Star

William J. Mann

“I don’t pretend to be an ordinary housewife.” So said Elizabeth Taylor, and therein lay her secret.

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From her days as a youthful minx at Metro Goldwyn Mayer to her post-studio reign as America’s lustiest middle-aged movie queen, Taylor has defined the very essence of Hollywood stardom.

How to be a Movie Star is a different kind of book about Elizabeth Taylor: an intimate, up-close look at a girl who grew up with fame, who learned early-and well-how to be famous, and how that fame was used and constructed to carry her through more than sixty years of public life. Indeed, one might say Elizabeth went to school to learn how to be famous, her education courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer, the greatest, most glamorous movie studio of all time.

Critic Reviews

A richly enjoyable biography ... Mann has some terrific stories.

The Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

Mann's biography intensely researches choice moments from the eight-times-married star's most twinkling era (1941-81). Much of it is devoted to juicy on-set gossip from classic movies such as Cleopatra and Giant ... The Taylor that emerges is gutsy, spoilt and foul-mouthed, with as voracious an appetite for diamonds and sex as the peanut butter and bacon sandwiches she kept in her handbag ... It's a bonkbuster aimed at film buffs ... An enjoyable and informative biography.

Critic Reviews

Mann's wickedly entertaining biography of Elizabeth Taylor ... Mann cleverly forsakes a conventional biography and instead deconstructs a series of chapters of Taylor's life, deploying both well-known and freshly uncovered tales ... Mann has a dramatists eye, well suited to Taylor's grand entrances, exits and set-pieces ... Mann captures a vivacious, determined actress who fought successfully to live in the public eye on her own terms. The reader is left in little doubt how bruising - as well as immensely fun and dripping in diamonds - the roller-coaster has been. Today's cosseted, risk-averse celebrities simply pale in comparison.

the Times
Critic Reviews

Mann's unconventional but highly entertaining biography ... Hers is a fabulous story and Mann more than does it justice in a lengthy book that is stuffed to bursting with diverting stories which proove that nothing succeeds like excess.

Daily Express
Critic Reviews

Well researched and keenly observed ... Meticulously researched, brightly written.

Sunday Business Post
Critic Reviews

Mann grapples with the desadence and madness of the girl who became a woman under the spotlight. It's a book of incidental pleasures, dizzying anecdotes and attempts to skewer the cultural zeitgeist that was Taylor in those years. It is also the closest anyone has come to capturing the essence of this troubled screen queen.

The List
William J.Mann

Wiliam J. Mann has written for the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the Hartford Courant, Salon, and other publications. He is the author of Kate: The Woman Who Was Katharine Hepburn; Edge of Midnight: The Life of John Schlesinger; Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood; and Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines. He lives…

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William J.Mann