WALT DISNEY

HOLLYWOOD'S DARK PRINCE

Muckraking, unauthorized biography of Disney that nonetheless paints such a rending picture of his childhood and young manhood that one forgives most of his later lapses. Eliot (Down Thunder Road, 1991, etc.) thinks that Disney was a great artist—which may account for what turns out to be a largely sympathetic biography of the filmmaker's dark side. Disney's fundamentalist father, Elias, was such a monster to his sons, whom he beat mercilessly, that Walt came to believe he wasn't his father's child—nor would Walt's mother protect him from Elias's savagery. These trials, and especially the anxiety about his parentage, became the template for Disney's later cartoon stories, Eliot says, and account in part for the mogul's endless troubles with his stable of animators, whom he underpaid and refused to give any power to. Nor would Disney grant Mickey Mouse's real creator, fellow animator Ub Iwerks, his proper credit, though Iwerks was Disney's oldest friend aside from the filmmaker's brother, Roy. On his marriage night, Disney found himself impotent, Eliot says, a state that later recurred during times of stress, which were exacerbated by a drinking problem and bouts of depression. Meanwhile, Disney's father had instilled in the boy a hatred of Jews, and Walt never curbed his tongue about Jews among his animators—and especially not when talking about fellow studio heads. He felt cut out of the real money in Hollywood since he could only produce movies with his own money while other studios monopolized distribution and exhibition. Following WW II, Disney helped organize resistance to the studio monopolies and in many ways brought about the downfall of the studio system. Earlier, he had become an informant for the FBI—according to Eliot, Disney wanted J. Edgar Hoover to investigate whether he really was the son of his alleged father—and, here, the author draws from some 500 pages of Disney's reports to the Bureau. Very readable, actually quite laudable, work. (Sixteen pages of photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 1-55972-174-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Birch Lane Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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