By John Lahr
First released in 1969, Notes on a Cowardly Lion has tested itself as one of many best-ever exhibit enterprise biographies. Drawing on his father's reminiscences and at the stories of these who labored with him, John Lahr brilliantly examines the background of recent American express enterprise throughout the lengthy and wonderful occupation of his father--the raucous low-comic megastar of burlesque, vaudeville, the Broadway revue and musical, Hollywood videos, and the valid level. right here in wealthy element is Lahr evolving from low--dialect comedian to Ziegfeld Follies sophisticate, hamming it up with the Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman at the set of The Wizard of Oz, and debuting Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot in the USA, which Kenneth Tynan referred to as "one of the main noble performances i've got ever seen." within the exam of Bert Lahr's power lack of confidence and self-absorption, the breakdown of his first marriage, and the affectionate arm's size he saved among himself and his adoring moment relations, John Lahr's ebook additionally brings the reader nearer than the other theater biography to the personal torment of a superb humorous man.
This variation of the publication comprises the award-winning essay "The Lion and Me," John Lahr's intimate reflections on relatives lifestyles together with his far-off, brooding, yet adorable father. a first class stylist, John Lahr takes the reader past the magic of express company to a blinding exam of the way a appearing self is built and staged earlier than the paying clients. either as theater background and biography, Lahr's booklet is superb.
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Extra resources for Notes on a Cowardly Lion: The Biography of Bert Lahr
The heads of the viewers jutt out from their seats like bleached rock faces, indifferent from their our bodies. The glare of the level lighting blurs their identities. this is often my father’s global, and the place he comes mysteriously alive. The scene is the production of S. J. Perelman; however the personality, Nelson Smedley, elderly ice-cream mogul, turns into Lahr’s particular invention. He can by no means ensure how the nature developed. “I simply play in it; then it’s virtually intuitive. ” His cue comes. He strikes from the shadows into the white mild of heart degree, and the transformation is rapid and entire. His physique unearths new rhythms. His legs, light and spindly at domestic, churn with livid strength. His palms, soft and langorous off degree, lash out, researching the violence of senility. “Get your paws off me! i will be able to stroll pretty much as good because the subsequent guy! ” Nelson Smedley casts off his nurse, starts to take his first steps, and topples to the ground. The viewers roars in reaction. “Pushed me back, didn’t you? continuously pushing—push, push, push, puuuuuusssssh! ” To the viewers, he's a slick professional—smooth, direct, with impeccable timing. they've got constantly laughed at my father. They shaggy dog story approximately his face—full of crags and mysterious angles, with a nostril swollen like a gherkin. Even his eyes, penetrating and deep-set beads, may be manipulated into anything outrageous. From the wings, his buffoonery, at sixty-eight, turns out a way more own and painful fight than he permits somebody, even himself, to think. If he hardly ever ventures outdoors his condo, on level he is taking huge actual and emotional hazards. He falls; his physique unravels in flurries of contorted stream. The pratfall turns into the flesh’s humiliation, and its redemption is laughter. The job is hypnotic and surprisingly grotesque; what's observed so matter-of-factly at domestic as “business” turns into disciplined and regulated paintings. The gales of laughter that greet Nelson Smedley aren't loads the made of the discussion as of the gymnastics of his face, the bellowing and the slapstick antics that extend the phrases. Lahr howls on the viewers. The spittle from his slurred phrases sprays out opposed to the darker history of the mezzanine. He has howled in his personal means on and off the degree for a few years. Gnashing his tooth, shivering in Smedley’s paranoic rage, he crouches towards the viewers, screaming. “Stop thief! cease thieieieiefff!! ” The noise isn't rational. It leaps from his abdominal like an animal’s screech. phrases are decreased to frequencies of worry. Like his theatrical trademark—“Gnong, gnong, gnong”—experience merges right into a deepest language, a random conjunction of gutteral expressions. This by no means occurs at domestic. The impression on an viewers is magnetic. on the finale, Lahr strikes off to a volley of applause. As he comes towards me his heavy make-up shines with sweat; his dress is grey with it. “It went good this night, Pop. ” there is not any solution. He passes me. it's not strange for him to be silent after a functionality. he's exhausted from play, and the transition among worlds is simply too quickly.