Suggested Reading List
CAESAR'S HOURS: MY LIFE IN COMEDY, WITH LOVE AND LAUGHTER
Author: Caesar, Sid & Eddy Friedfeld
Description: In the 1950s, Caesar was to comedy what Marlon Brando was to drama. Gifted in dialects, double-talk, linguistic logistics, mime, music, monologues and satirical sketches, all executed with razor-sharp timing, Caesar created "comedy based on truth" and received acclaim as a comic genius. His fade-out from the tube by the end of that decade left many wondering where he went. Caesar answered that question in his autobiography, Where Have I Been? (1982). Now, collaborating with film critic Friedfeld, he offers a satisfying salmagundi of memoir mixed with a probe into the mechanics of merriment. He opens with memories of saxophone lessons during his Yonkers, N.Y., childhood, followed by comedy in the Catskills. After studying at Juilliard, he played in several orchestras, and his WWII Coast Guard shows led to Hollywood, Broadway and TV's Admiral Broadway Revue (1949). On his legendary Your Show of Shows (1950-1954) and Caesar's Hour (1954-1957), he worked with the era's top comedy writers (Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon), and one chapter echoes the chortles and chaos of the famed Writers' Room (later recreated in films by Brooks, Reiner and Simon): "The energy in the Writers' Room was like a cyclotron.... No one ever finished a sentence that I can remember." Detailing many of his classic routines (some with script excerpts), Caesar's prose is appealing, informal and fun to read. Chapters like "The Art of Sketch Comedy" make this required reading for directors, writers and performers.
WHERE HAVE I BEEN? AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Author: Caesar, Sid & Bill Davidson
Description: What would you do if you earned millions of dollars and were famous throughout the world before the age of thirty? In the 1950's Sid Ceasar's critically acclaimed weekly comedy "Your Show of Shows" ruled Saturday night televison, and brought him world fame and a fortune to match. His authentic, true to life and 100% live and unedited comedy brought a never before attempted challenge to televison that has not been re-created before or since- and people went mad for it. In the eight years Caesar had a slot on the air, ratings sky-rocketed and televison sales (then the latest "must have") went through the roof. This should've been the perfect life for any man...but it wasn't. Unable to deal with the tremendous pressures of his high profile career, Caesar turned to alcohol as a "stress reliever". This eventually turned into a battle with alcoholism that lasted many years and sent Caesar plunging into what he calls his "dark period," which left him unable to recall or enjoy most of the professional milestones he became famous for. After being given drugs to help rid him of his alcohol addiction, Caesar then took on the role of alcoholic-addict, a well hidden secret that nearly cost him his job, his family and his life. Near death, and on the verdge of total ruin, Caesar realizes he must make a change. "Where Have I Been?" is the creatively written, dramatic account of Caesar's own life and times and his rocky journey down the road to recovery. A sure comfort for anyone who has experienced the traumatic realities of substance abuse, and a great book for anyone with a general interest in celebrities.
DANNY KAYE - KING OF JESTERS
Author: Koenig, David
Description: You remember the red-haired zany from the holiday favorite White Christmas ... the lovable storyteller Hans Christian Andersen ... the daydreamer Walter Mitty ... the tongue-tied Court Jester ... Now step behind the camera during the making of these classic movies.
Packed with never-before-published anecdotes and photos, Danny Kaye: King of Jesters takes the first-ever behind-the-scenes look at the creation of his film, TV, radio and stage work, and at the secret life of the incredible performer behind them.
As the first performer ever to be personally requested by His Highness to headline a Command Performance, Danny Kaye was literally both King of Jesters and Jester of Kings. But his was a life built on much more than buffoonery, for he could conceivably master any discipline he committed himself to singing straight or scat, dancing, comedy, even the culinary arts and humanitarian efforts, indeed anything he put his mind to.
It took years for him to be discovered in show business because he could do too much and proved impossible to classify. So, too, his particular genius required absolute concentration, so absolute that everything and everyone around him usually vanished. Consequently, he ceded management of his career to others, finally hyper-aggressive songstress Sylvia Fine, who would catapult Kaye to stardom and become his lifelong coach, content provider, and wife.
Although he reached princely heights as an entertainer, his six-decade career in show business never resulted in an accurate biography or analysis of his work. Danny Kaye: King of Jesters provides both. Based on decades of research and interviews, the book clears up previous misconceptions about Kaye, right down to his birthday. Even more, it is a fun, backstage look at the making of his greatest roles, recounting the production of all of his films, his weekly TV series, radio series, Broadway roles, and the best of his work off-Broadway, in audio recordings, and TV specials.
I REMEMBER ME
Author: Reiner, Carl
Description: "I Remember Me" weaves an American tapestry of colorful tales, beginning with the timid musings of a young boy on the verge of becoming a man in the Jewish section of New York's Bronx neighborhood, and bringing us up to date with the mature insight of a man whose remarkable trajectory has sent him to the top of Hollywood's elite and sparked the careers of dozens of household-name entertainers. Along the way, Reiner treats his loyal readers to everything from the ordinary to the truly unforgettable: a family trip to a nude beach, French lessons with Mel Brooks, a chapter dedicated to Rinnie the dog who unfortunately mistakes a skunk for a cat, a surprise early-morning visit from the McCarthy era FBI, a heart wrenching story of loss describing the day of his wife's passing, and then in a revealing chapter of Reiner's character, he describes "the most theatrically triumphant day" of his young career.
Through his memoir, we meet the man behind the success in roles rarely seen before: son to Romanian immigrant Irving Reiner, husband to fellow Bronx native and renowned singer Estelle Reiner, father to the prolific filmmaker Rob Reiner, Dr. Annie Reiner psychoanalyst & gifted singer, and Lucas Reiner, a globally recognized fine artist.
Written with the same combination of playful jest and modest humility that has garnered the love and respect of fans for generations, "I Remember Me" remembers the creative and inspiring journey of one of the most revered comedic icons of the past hundred years.
IT'S GOOD TO BE THE KING:THE SERIOUSLY FUNNY LIFE OF MEL BROOKS
Author: Parish, James Robert
Description: This book traces the extraordinary life and career of Mel Brooks, who has ridden a wave of show business success perhaps unsurpassed by anyone of his generation. Offering many insights into the wacky world of Brooks and his many collaborators, as well as an intimate look into his successful marriage to the brilliant and beautiful actress Anne Bancroft, It's Good to Be the King might just be the most delightful, engaging, and entertaining biography you'll ever read.
MY ANECDOTAL LIFE: A MEMOIR
Author: Reiner, Carl
Description: More than once, Carl Reiner has had friends say, Hey, Reiner, you ought to write those things down. And at eighty, he finally has.
In this funny and engaging memoir, one of the best raconteurs on the planet recalls his life in show business in short comic takes. Reiner tells of how, after answering an ad for free acting classes on his brother Charlies advice, he forsakes a budding career as a machinist for an acting career. In Sidney Bechet and His Jazz Band Meet Franz Kafka, he captivates the legendary jazz man and his band with an unusual reading of The Metamorphosis, during a thunderstorm at a Catskills resort in 1942.
Reiner also recalls the highlights of the succeeding decades: his first sweaty audition, impersonating a dog impersonating movie stars; his forays into the theater; his work on Your Show of Shows and The Dick Van Dyke Show during TVs golden days; and his long friendship and collaboration with Mel Brooks which gave birth to the Two Thousand Year Old Man.
In A Recipe to Remember, he recites a recipe for cream cheese cookies to a star-studded audience that includes Paul Newman, Leonard Bernstein, and Barbra Streisand. In The Gourmet Eating Club, he gives an insiders take on the now-legendary group that included Mario Puzo, Joseph Heller, Zero Mostel, and other luminaries.
Mary Tyler Moore, Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, Johnny Carson, Cary Grant, Dinah Shore, Ann Bancroft, Jean Renoir the list goes on and on also appear in what Reiner calls the literary variety show that captures the highs and lows of his extraordinary life. Through it all, Reiner displays the wit and warmth that have made him one of the most beloved figures in the entertainment business. This charming memoir will delight anyone who wants a behind-the-scenes look at five decades of Hollywood and television history.
Author: Gottfried, Martin
Description: A portrait of the entertainer Danny Kaye giving an insight into his private life. The book discusses his marriage and his affairs and explores the charges made that he was a paedophile and Laurence Olivier's lover.
SEESAW: A DUAL BIOGRAPHY OF ANNE BANCROFT AND MEL BROOKS
Author: Holtzman, William
Description: Theirs is the rarest of relationships--a marriage of two highly individualistic professionals that survived their widely divergent and successful careers in the uncertain world of show business. This book is a parallel account of how these two grew separately but came together in an at times difficult, if often exemplary, marriage. Will Holtzman has written a delightful "seesaw" portrait of Mel Brooks and Bancroft.
THE 2000 YEAR OLD MAN GOES TO SCHOOL
Author: Reiner, Carl and Mel Brooks
THE SECRET LIFE OF DANNY KAYE
Author: Freedland, Michael