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Laughter's Gentle Soul The Life of Robert Benchley (Paperback)

Author:  Billy Altman
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FORMAT: Paperback
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Learn more about Laughter's Gentle Soul:

Format: Paperback
ISBN-10: 0393333353
ISBN-13: 9780393333350
Sku: 206554598
Publish Date: 11/26/2007
Pages:  384
Age Range:  NA
In this sympathetic and wittily written biography, Altman explores the man behind the mirth as he chronicles Robert Benchley's journey, from the glittering lights of Broadway and wit of the Algonquin Round Table to the glamorously decadent Hollywood of the 1930s and 1940s. 25 photos.
From the Publisher:
A definitive portrait of Robert Benchley examines his diverse roles as humorist, author, actor, and leading light of the Algonquin Round Table, discussing his relationship with his fellow members of the Round Table and analyzing the man behind the myth.Few American writers have ever achieved the widespread acclaim and multidimensional popularity attained by Robert Benchley (1889-1945) during the first half of this century. A charter member, along with close friends Dorothy Parker, Robert Sherwood, and Harold Ross, of the Notorious "Vicious Circle" that held court at the Algonquin Hotel in the Roaring Twenties, Benchley was many things to many people: a best-selling author of hilarious books chronicling the comic futility of the human condition, a sharp-witted theater critic whose reviews graced the pages of the original Life and The New Yorker for nearly two decades, and a much sought-after radio personality and feature film actor who starred in his own series of classic comedy shorts. In this sympathetic and witty biography, Billy Altman explores the man behind the mirth as he chronicles Benchley's journey from the glittering lights of Broadway and the dim ones in the rollicking speakeasies of New York during prohibition, to the infamous Garden of Allah apartments and the glamorously decadent Hollywood of the 1930s and 1940s.
Author Bio
Billy Altman
Billy Altman's work has appeared in "The New York Times", "Rolling Stone", "Esquire", and "People", among other publications.


New Yorker
"I was a keen consumer of popular culture when Benchley was part of it....Popular culture was then more compact and less dumbed-down; it is hard to imagine any contemporary literary figure becoming such a media celebrity. Benchley represented something to the masses, and as a member of those masses, more than a half century ago, I fell betrayed in reading how careless a custodian he was of his health and his talents. He died at 56. Altman's biography, more vividly than the others, gives the details....[and] Altman is excellent on Hollywood. He has looked at most of the footage, most of it distinctly workaday. - John Updike 04/07/97

New York Times Book Review
"Though [Benchley's] work was anthologized during his lifetime in 12 different volumes--and posthumously in five or six more--almost all of them are out of print. So are the two Benchley biographies, the first published by his son Nathaniel in 1955, the second by Babette Rosmond in 1970. For this, if no other reason, Billy Altman's 'Laughter's Gentle Soul' is a welcome addition." - David Nasaw 04/20/1997

Product Attributes

Product attributeBook Format:   Paperback
Product attributeNumber of Pages:   0384
Product attributePublisher:   W. W. Norton & Company
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