Read How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood by William J. Mann Online


Elizabeth Taylor has never been short on star power, but in this unprecedented biography, the spotlight is entirely on her—a spirited beauty full of magic, professional daring, and wit. Acclaimed biographer William Mann follows Elizabeth Taylor publicly as she makes her ascent at MGM, falls into (and out of) marriages, wins Oscars, fights studio feuds, and combats America'Elizabeth Taylor has never been short on star power, but in this unprecedented biography, the spotlight is entirely on her—a spirited beauty full of magic, professional daring, and wit. Acclaimed biographer William Mann follows Elizabeth Taylor publicly as she makes her ascent at MGM, falls into (and out of) marriages, wins Oscars, fights studio feuds, and combats America's conservative values with her decidedly modern love affairs. But he also shines a light on Elizabeth's rich private life, revealing a love for her craft and a loyalty to the underdog that fueled her lifelong battle against the studio system. Swathed in mink, disposing of husbands but keeping the diamonds—this is Elizabeth Taylor as she lived and loved, breaking and making the rules in the game of supreme celebrity....

Title : How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780547134642
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 496 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood Reviews

  • Petra X
    2018-11-20 23:51

    I don't find many movie stars interesting. Quite the reverse. The desperate attempts for publicity of people like Angelina Jolie from her vampire routine to her present reinvention as mother earth, or Tom Cruise's fake madness (view spoiler)[I know it's fake, I had lunch with him, his mother and sister some years ago and he was a nice, unassuming person, not at all like his public persona (hide spoiler)] neither interest nor impress me. Anything their agents can concoct for celebrity, for branding their goods is just to add monetary value, to suck people in to spending more money on seeing and reading about these phenomenally interesting people who live life larger than they do. But Liz was different.The first anecdote in the book proves just how different. Age 74 and in a wheelchair, the spin machine had her dying of her physical ailments and gaga from Alzheimer's. So what does she do to counteract this? Issue a press release? Be seen on the red carpet? What she does is get a little boat out into the Pacific and wearing a white swimming costume, a snorkel and mask, climb into a shark cage and go swimming with sharks. She said it was the most exciting thing she'd done in her life. It also stopped the gossip.This is going to be good!

  • judy
    2018-11-27 23:45

    Relax. This is not some sappy tale about the inner Elizabeth Taylor and her feelings on her life and loves. With the exception of the end, where Elizabeth really isn't performing anymore, its a fascinating study of how Hollywood operated back in the day. Elizabeth might be at the center but what you're really seeing is the people around her. I'd compare it to pulling back the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. Where Elizabeth, who had every advantage even before she became a child star, comes in is how she makes her way through the swamp and becomes a Hollywood icon. That may give her too much credit. She wants what she wants when she wants it and she won't give in--ever. I'm not sure she thinks or strategizes--she just does. I have to admit that when I'm reading GWTW, it's Elizabeth I see not Vivien Leigh. Turns out there's some justification for that. She operates just like Scarlett. Husbands can be picked for being useful. If they happen to belong to someone else--oh fiddle-de-de. The exception, of course, is Rhett Butler. A case of mutual but wonderful insanity. Richard like Rhett just wants to give his love everything she could possibly want. But that's not the real story. The real story is that with her single-minded determination to have everything her way--she ends up smashing the Hollywood rules one by one. She's a pivotal figure. This is a well-written, fun and fascinating read!

  • SarahBattersby
    2018-12-01 23:40

    Quite fascinating, and a bit of breath of fresh air after reading the snarky Kitty Kelley bio of Liz.

  • Richard Kramer
    2018-12-08 20:40

    HOW TO BE A MOVIE STAR is William J Mann’s miracle of a book that is both about Elizabeth Taylor and not about her, too. Its actual subject is how Taylor, who began as a pretty piece of MGM chattel, managed to author the story of her stardom over the twenty-five-plus crucial years that Mann investigates, from NATIONAL VELVET to VIRGINIA WOOLF, with an agreeable epilogue for her successful stage turn in THE LITTLE FOXES, (Re WOOLF ... it’s hard to believe she made the film when she was 33. Albee wanted Bette Davis and James Mason; I happen to have a “secret” DVD collection of movies that were never made with the actors originally envisioned for the roles, or whom the author would have preferred. Claudette Colbert in ALL ABOUT EVE brings colors to Margo that Davis didn’t, although, in the end, Davis wins. Judy Garland’s ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, Jane Fonda’s CHINATOWN, Marilyn Monroe’s BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S … Anyone who wants to borrow one of these dvds, just cover the postage and let me know.)Anyway — Mann’s book isn’t a biography of an actress, but a biography of the world’s (and Hedda Hopper’s) RESPONSE to an actress who either was, or wasn’t, one of the most brilliant manipulators of her own image in human history, and who challenged, consciously or unconsciously, the ruling totems of discourse about what you could, or couldn’t do, and got away with everything. What makes Mann unique as a biographer, I think, is that he’s both a fan and a sophisticated analyst of what fandom is; Taylor gives him plenty to work with, as did Hepburn in his book KATE, and Streisand, in HELLO, GORGEOUS. They’re all books about need, I think, and how three brilliantly gifted women met (or didn’t meet) their needs through their manipulation of strangers’ ideas of them . This is a subject; this is worth writing books about. Mann — equally skilled as writer, fan, un-earther, and historian — meets the challenge he sets for himself, here as in his other work.And, in the end, I found the book both elegant and emotionally generous. He deconstructs the Taylor legend and, in his love and respect for it, and for the inspired effort that went into its creation, leaves it glowing brighter than ever.

  • Tara
    2018-12-07 18:43

    Looks at Taylor's career in terms of how she was promoted during the studio era, and how she made the transition into the celebrity culture we recognise today. Interesting material on Hedda Hopper, her shifting relationship with Taylor and her impact on public opinion during the more scandalous moments in the star's many marriages. I liked how the author focussed on the highlights (and lowlights) of Taylor's very public life, though I was a bit disappointed that he stopped at The Little Foxes. Although the book is about her film career, I felt he could have written more about her stint in rehab and work for AIDS victims, which brought her fame a new dimension. I felt the book could have been shorter, as a lot of it had been covered before, and for all his claims to be a different take on Taylor, it did come across as a fairly conventional celeb biography and he seemed somewhat in awe of his subject.

  • Lynn Kearney
    2018-12-19 00:38

    Fairly engaging trash.

  • Bear52
    2018-12-04 02:57

    Very enjoyable.

  • Shanyn Money
    2018-11-30 22:58

    Good, juicy unauthorized bio.

  • Meghan
    2018-12-05 18:49

    Mann's writing style when it comes to biographies could be seen as manipulative and even fictional at times; I certainly understand the negative reviews on Amazon saying as much about this book and his Katharine Hepburn bio, which I'm also currently reading. But leaving aside his tendency to re-enact conversations he could not possibly have witnessed, Mann paints a thorough and excellently-documented picture of his subjects. He doesn't make up any facts. The theme examined in this portrait of Elizabeth Taylor's life, namely, the actress's ambitious pursuit of an existence that one could argue she could not possibly have avoided, is at once fascinating and extremely well-evidenced. Even more interesting is the broad look at the massive upheaval of Hollywood's studio system in the 60s, in no small part due to Elizabeth's actions and influence. We get behind-the-scenes drama between agents, Louis B. Mayer, gossip columnists, actors, Jack Warner, and writers and directors from Ernest Lehman to Mike Nichols, from the days of Gone with the Wind in 1939 to Night Watch in 1973. We understand through her experiences, like her first marriage, a studio-manufactured disaster designed to sell a film, why the studio system was one that was always destined to implode, as soon as the products it sold--the actors--realized they were worth more as free agents than as live studio puppetry. Elizabeth was everywhere in Hollywood, and did everything and worked with everyone, so this book is essentially as good a look at Hollywood as it is a look at what might be the most fascinating person--most fascinating, perhaps, because, in spite of a life and studio-created career focused on anything but the craft of acting, she was in fact an excellent actress and a consummate professional--ever to inhabit it.

  • Chasia Lloyd
    2018-12-02 19:03

    Different kind of autobiography with a focus on "what is fame?" and "what does it mean to be famous?", using different points of Elizabeth Taylor's life to answer the questions. Not a thorough biography, there are plenty of those - this is something else. Hedda Hopper's role was interesting, too, and I'm always here for biographies that shine light on the roles gossip columnists played back in the day.

  • Jennifer
    2018-12-17 18:46

    A rich and wonderfully well-written book on the iconic Elizabeth Taylor. It doesn't have a year by year timeline of her life, but it hits all the important parts and made me feel like I had gotten to know her. I loved reading this book and highly recommend it to Liz fans or for anyone who has an interest in how Old Hollywood morphed into New Hollywood.

  • E.H. Nolan
    2018-12-16 22:39

    Elizabeth Taylor was an actress hailed and remembered for many qualities. Her beauty, talent, iconic films, many and memorable marriages, and activism. She was also the first movie star to create a perfume line. The most incredible and lasting legacy of Elizabeth Taylor is the subject of William J. Mann’s fantastic biography: She was the first modern movie star.Movie stars, as we know them today, are involved in romantic scandals, act wild at parties, represent several perfume labels, and are followed by paparazzi constantly. Before Elizabeth Taylor’s heyday, Hollywood studios did everything they could to cover up any hint of scandal involving their stars. If someone had an extramarital affair, homosexual preferences, a bar brawl, or a drunken scene at a nightclub, studios paid the press to cover it up. They wanted the public to think stars were “stars”, without imperfections. Elizabeth Taylor changed everything. Her homewrecking affairs were announced across the world; her marriages were full of drama, and the public learned the details. When she traveled abroad, the paparazzi followed her and climbed up the walls of her hotel to take and sell photographs of her. This isn’t shocking at all nowadays, but it certainly was back in the 1950s and 1960s.I absolutely loved this book, and I continually recommend it to all my friends who are Liz Taylor fans. Her journey to stardom was so fascinating. Depending on your point of view when you read the book, she can seem like an innocent bystander or a calculating woman who knew how to gain and keep fame. No matter which stance or shade of gray you take, it’s easy to appreciate her lively and vivacious personality. Mann includes colorful anecdotes from film sets and writes romances that belong in a novel. It’s a wonderfully fun read, and I wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone who likes dramatic movie star biographies. I actually wasn’t the biggest Elizabeth Taylor fan before I read the book; I grew to love her as I read her life story.The only downside some might find with the book is the ending. Mann doesn’t chronicle her later years. There’s virtually no mention of her AIDS activism, or her journey through the 1980s and 1990s. I didn’t mind the large omission because it reflected Mann’s theme. The book chronicles her journey in becoming the first modern movie star. Once the title has been achieved, Mann stops writing. If you’re looking for a book about Liz’s later life, look elsewhere. But if you want to read the ups and downs, passion, charm, and intelligence of Liz from the 1940s-1970s, this is probably the best book out there.

  • Moppet
    2018-11-20 21:59

    William J. Mann's book is less a biography, more a study of Taylor's public image over the decades. As such, he chooses to focus on key moments in her career and has space to devote to the workings of the publicity machine which made her a star.MGM trained Taylor from childhood to play a sanitised, glamorised version of herself. Mann describes her first wedding to hotel heir Nicky Hilton as "more like an extended photo opportunity for a picture that needed to be promoted." The trousseau was provided by the studio, from a wedding dress designed by Helen Rose to bedroom slippers stored in a box covered with white satin studded with seed pearls. Unfortunately the carefully staged marriage rapidly fell apart. Taylor later saw her decision to divorce as the beginning of independence. Ultimately, she would choose to live her life to please herself, not her public. The paradox was that, far from killing her career, the scandal attached to her serial marriages sent it into the stratosphere.While Mann explores the changes in press coverage and in mindset that ensured a turbulent private life would not exile Elizabeth Taylor from Hollywood as it had Ingrid Bergman, he gives Taylor herself full credit for her choices. I was slightly disappointed that the book ends in the 1980s, before some of Taylor's greatest achievements - her building up of a multi-million-dollar cosmetics business, and her work for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. But I would highly recommend this intelligent analysis of the nature of celebrity, the Golden Age of Hollywood, and the life of a woman who has had to deal with a level of fame most of us are fortunate enough never to achieve.

  • Kat Hagedorn
    2018-12-12 00:45 actually agree with this author's thesis: that the studio system, the actress's own proclivities, and the public created the star we know as Elizabeth Taylor. I just found it difficult to wade through the gossip to get there.Normally I would never pick up a book like this because of all its dish, but my book club foisted it on me. (Don't kill me, TS!) I wasn't all that interested in it for the same reason I'm not all that interested in Us Weekly. Actually I loathe Us Weekly, and thankfully this book is not loathsome. Just somewhat boring.One of my biggest problems was the repetition. On nearly every page, he pushes the importance of understanding that Taylor grew up in the star-making system, and consequently knew no other way to live. First: I don't need to hear this ad nauseum, I got it the first couple times. Second: it's a little hard to believe that we were in awe of a woman who didn't know how to cook her own breakfast. I should appreciate this for what reason? I understand that movie stars = royalty in this country, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with how we treat them.I also understand that he missed certain large aspects of Taylor's life. He tells us up front that he's going to do this. But when he tells us off-the-cuff that Burton re-married and that Taylor and Burton starred in something together long after their divorce, it just makes our antennae stand on end. If he's going to give us the play-by-play of their marriage, for what reason does he withhold more juicy gossip? I, for one, am not dying to know, but I can imagine others feeling exasperated.

  • Bookworm1858
    2018-12-03 02:59

    How to Be a Movie Star by William J. MannHoughton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009406 pagesBiography3/5 starsSummary: Not a traditional biography, How to Be a Movie Star examines Elizabeth's life in the star system taking particular interest in how she became a movie star while also touching on her infamous love affairs.Thoughts: I just reviewed Furious Love about Elizabeth and Richard but I wanted to read this too because I've always been fascinated by her. In fact my favorite Barbie as a child was named Elizabeth Taylor (because I thought it was the most beautiful name in the world) and I desperately wanted violet eyes like her (or rather like she allegedly had; also Meg in Hercules fueled that desire).I appreciate Mann's mission but I didn't think he did a very good job. The biographic parts were good but he didn't tie it back to how she was a movie star very well. She had "it" and that's not easily quantifiable. I also think it may have suffered in not being as interesting as "Furious Love" since I read them so close together.There was also an awful lot about Hedda Hopper who declined as Liz rose. I understand that she was influential for a time and Mann had access to her archives but she was probably the second most mentioned person in the book and I don't see that she's important enough.Overall: Interesting for those who didn't live through Liz's life.Cover: Um, gorgeous? Liz is SOOOOOO beautiful.

  • Robin
    2018-12-17 19:40

    This book offered an interesting take on the story of Elizabeth Taylor. The author focused on the business of Hollywood and the way that Taylor seemed to blaze the path from the tightly controlled studio system of press manipulation to modern media saturation and the art of spin so ubiquitous today. Frankly, I got the impression that Ms. Taylor was not much of a spin master, but the people around her truly worked the system to her advantage. So I'm not sure how much of a trailblazer she was in that respect, but Taylor sure set the bar for movie stardom and diva-ness! I enjoyed reading about the movie-making mythos and the husbands and the rise of Taylor to Hollywood royalty. However, the author really beat a dead horse with his whole trail-blazing business conceit. Lots and lots of repetition, and despite the lengthy array of footnotes and attributions at the back of the book, I felt like he was taking a fair amount liberty in his storytelling and his supposed understanding of the inner workings of the mind of Elizabeth Taylor... I just couldn't buy in.

  • Kristin
    2018-11-23 21:39

    2.5 starsI am plodding through this; I find Elizabeth Taylor fascinating and I am loving the anecdotes, so I am not sure what I am finding troublesome about this writer's style. It may be that the chapters are a little too long, or it could be that he skips around chronologically. I don't usually have trouble with fiction that jumps around in a timeline, but keeping up with all the people that surrounded Liz and the ones that are being quoted is somewhat difficult. Overall, though, very interesting; this book makes me want to have a Liz movie marathon. Update...the last two chapters were disappointing. As much detail as the author gave in previous chapters to people around Liz and even the foods that she ate throughout, I couldn't believe that the book ended in the 1980s. It didn't go into her work with AIDS, or her fragrance line, or even name her last husband. I get that she wasn't a "movie star" anymore....but she was still a star, and still used her fame and influence for herself and others. I also wanted to know more about her children.

  • Laurel Beth
    2018-12-18 00:37

    This book taught me Hedda Hopper is a stone cold ugly chapeaux'd bitch!My mom surprised me on Xmas with this book. Surprising because I knew nothing about it, even though it combines many of my interests - namely, knowing the correct order of all Elizabeth Taylor's husbands, bombshell behavior, and feminism through the lens of the Hollywood star machine. This book has plenty of gossip anecdotes, but the truly phenomenal part of this book is that it doesn't presume to be a full biography, just a contextual peek at the way Elizabeth Taylor took her career by the reins while high on Demerol or faking pneumonia. This book made me rewatch Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and made me regret selling my DVD of National Velvet for beer money. I mostly read this book in the nude, in the tub or under the duvet.BTW - Nicky Hilton, Michael Wilding, Mike Todd, Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton, Richard Burton, John Warner, Larry Fortensky.

  • Benjamin
    2018-11-21 20:40

    William J Mann is one of the best Hollywood historians, if not the best. This is not a biography in the traditional sense, but rather focusses on important passages in Elizabeth Taylor's career to examine her ascendance to becoming one of the most famous movie stars and celebrities in the world. Mann vividly presents how Taylor's stardom evolved and bridged the transition from the old studio system to a more contemporary form of celebrity, which she has defined like no other. He also argues that Taylor's main goal in life was to achieve a certain, exclusive lifestyle, to which fame and movies where a means, rather than an end in themselves, as it is so often nowadays.Always a consummate professional in every aspect of her (very public) private life, Elizabeth Taylor is a fascinating subject, making this book a fantastic look behind the scenes of the machinations of fame.

  • Shawn Thrasher
    2018-11-19 00:54

    Early on, Mann writes that this isn't going to be a traditional birth-to-death biography with everything in between; there were plenty of those about Elizabeth Taylor. This was -- and indeed and gloriously is - the biography of Elizabeth Taylor's stardom. It's handbook really - on how to court publicity, cut movie deals, conduct various affairs, seduce the paparazzi, keep the public alternately in love and in hate with you, and maintain your glamor. When we think of today's celebrities, most of what we (and they) take for granted Elizabeth Taylor pioneered. Mann really proves that there was a time before Liz and after Liz, and the two eras couldn't be any more different. An absolute pleasure to read from beginning to end.

  • Eleanor
    2018-12-05 20:40

    This is not a how-to book. Rather, it is a fascinating business-oriented (but still, deliciously entertaining) look at Elizabeth Taylor's life. SPOILERS:My favorite part was the author's account of Debbie Reynold's reaction to Eddie Fischer leaving her for Liz. Apparently, Debbie called Eddie from Los Angeles (he was in New York City) and he told her that yes, he was in love with Liz and he wouldn't be returning to LA the next day as he had planned. In a master move, Debbie showed up, the paparazzi following, at the airport, all cute and spiffy. She waited and waited. After it was shockingly (to everyone but her) apparent that Eddie wasn't coming, she left the airport alone. Like I said - MASTER MOVE.

  • Daniel Freedman
    2018-11-20 23:45

    If there is such a thing as a superstar Liz was it. This biography goes into all the graphic details of the making of a child star who was fully mature by age fourteen. She was one of those people that the Studio was always challenged how to market. Almost too beautiful to play some parts, and even when she was three inches too short for National Velvet she went on a growing campaign to get her the added height. Nothing stopped her. The first chapter with Elizabeth, Eddie Fisher and Burton is hilarious. The picture of Debbie Reynolds starring off into space is really hilarious, as if she knew exactly where Eddie was going. Sure Liz set the mold, but I doubt if anyone will ever fill it.

  • Jan
    2018-11-25 21:45

    This book is fascinating for those who are over about 50-55 or those who are in the film industry and interested in the history of the studios and the old movie stars, or... those who are transfixed by Elizabeth Taylor and her life and loves. She basically grew up on the studio lot, never out of the limelight, a la Michael Jackson or Jody Foster. She loved food, expensive things, living a life of extreme consumption, and having her own way. She also understood the relationship between her public persona and her success at the box office. The shift in control over stars' lives and in the publicity machine that fueled the movie business is very interesting and "Liz" was at the center of those changes. Really enjoyed this.

  • Ariadna73
    2018-11-28 23:47

    Check out what I wrote in my spanish blog: liked the way the author tried to give every aspect of Elizabeth's life a new sense of goal: everything she did since the moment she woke up to the moment she went to sleep was intended to perfect her status as a movie star. It is just fantasy and theory; but it is very interesting to see how an exercise like this gives a total new sense to everything she did in her life. She had a goal; she had a business; and she worked hard for it. At least it is how it looks like after reading this book.

  • Brenda Mannino
    2018-12-02 02:59

    This book is mostly a rehashing of information about Liz Taylor previously written up in the movie magazines of yesterday, which I read as a very young teeenager thanks to a friend's older sister who passed her old magazines on to me. I grew up reading celebrity news that was 5 years old by the time I read it. It gave me a head start on understanding some of the issues discussed in this book. Living so close to the Canadian border , I was also able to read more detailed accounts of the lives of "movie stars' in the Canadian newspapers that my father often brought home. I enjoyed reading this book to see how it approached the "news" that I had read about decades ago.

  • Randy
    2018-12-09 18:38

    I enjoyed the exploration of Elizabeth Taylor as a star who moved our culture into the celebrity drenched culture of the present moment. It is an interesting thesis that Elizabeth Taylor moved us from a sense of stars as not being like us to way too much information about star's lives. Ms. Taylor's long and positive association with gay men is also interesting. What is missing is much information about her relationship to her children and what they have become in the limelight of their mother's excessive media focus. Finally, I have enjoyed every book of Mr. Mann's. He is an effective and gifted writer. If you haven't read his biography of Billy Haines, you must.

  • Abby
    2018-12-20 01:38

    I thought the Hedda Hopper angle was pretty unique. Other than that, it was a pretty standard Liz biography. I felt that some things were skipped past or hardly mentioned, while others, like the filming of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf were covered in depth. I knew enough about her life to fill in the gaps, but it may have been confusing for readers who weren't as familiar. The look at how Liz became a star, and stayed a star was an interesting take rather than the book being a standard biography. I would recommend it to anyone interesting in learning about Liz the movie star, but maybe supplement it with another book if you are interested in learning about the life of Elizabeth Taylor.

  • Deodand
    2018-11-29 22:57

    I enjoyed this but it shouldn't be the first book you read about Taylor's life. Mann focuses on her first 40 years, and hits the highlights, so if there are gaps in your knowledge of La Taylor's timelines you may find this book confusing.This was appropriately juicy and rich, and it gives us a view of the savvy people working behind the scenes with Taylor to create and sustain her stardom. Plus, it is full of detail about Taylor's desire for the most and best of everything, which is some good greed porn.

  • Jamie
    2018-11-27 01:54

    In light of her recent passing, I picked this up because is there a more glamorous, actual true real movie star? The book basically goes through her movie career so it is not an actual biography. I was a little disappointed because it did not go into much detail with the Richard Burton marriages, which to me are the most interesting...but, it provides ample information on the other marriages, which lasted longer, I guess. Fascinating glimpse also, of how she defied the studios frequently and got her way. Quite the fighter!

  • Patricia
    2018-11-30 23:53

    As a Liz Taylor fan I found this an interesting read. Neither a dish-the-dirt read ala Kitty Kelly nor an adoring fan tribute it shows Ms Taylor as a resilient strong woman. Insights and background about her many marriages and romances (ends with Burton) and how they were influenced by and influenced her career. Liz to her credit is no self pitying victim, despite being a child star of the old Hollywood system. No modern actress has ever achieved her glamour and beauty. Sorry Angelie et al, you gals just don't cut it!