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Gottlieb (formerly editor in chief of Simon and Schuster and editor of The New Yorker) has collected here his remarkable sketches (and then some) of well-known figures mostly from the literary and entertainment worlds. The first, and longer, section takes us into the (often intimate) lives of people whose names we all know, from Judy Garland and Harry Houdini to Bruno Bettelheim and the Mitfords. The Letters include an essay on the crime novels of two First Daughters (“White House Whodunits”) and “Analyze That: H.D., Bryher, and Freud”—all are witty, informative, and, of course, beautifully written. A lot of fun with, at imes, a delicious whiff of gossip.
The product of a lifetime immersed in the literary, performing arts, and entertainment worlds, Lives and Letters spotlights the work, careers, intimate lives, and lasting achievements of a vast array of celebrated writers and performers in film, theater, and dance, and some of the more curious iconic public figures of our times.
From the world of literature, Charles Dickens, James Thurber, Judith Krantz, John Steinbeck, and Rudyard Kipling; the controversies surrounding Bruno Bettelheim and Elia Kazan; and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and her editor, Maxwell Perkins.
From dance and theater, Isadora Duncan and Margot Fonteyn, Serge Diaghilev and George Balanchine, Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse.
In Hollywood, Bing Crosby and Judy Garland, Douglas Fairbanks and Lillian Gish, Tallulah Bankhead and Katharine Hepburn, Mae West and Anna May Wong.
In New York, Diana Vreeland, the Trumps, and Gottlieb's own take on the contretemps that followed his replacing William Shawn at The New Yorker.
And so much more . . .