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Madeline Kahn

Being the Music, A Life

William V. Madison (author)

ISBN: 9781496809599

Publication Date: Sep 2016

Format: Paperback

Also available as: Hardback  

Best known for her Oscar-nominated roles in the smash hits Paper Moon and Blazing Saddles, Madeline Kahn (1942-1999) was one of the most popular comedians of her time - and one of the least understood. William V. Madison examines Kahn's film career, including not only her triumphs with Mel Brooks and Peter Bogdanovich, but also her overlooked performances.
£25.50

Temporarily out of stock: usually despatched in 10-14 days

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Best known for her Oscar-nominated roles in the smash hits Paper Moon and Blazing Saddles, Madeline Kahn (1942-1999) was one of the most popular comedians of her time - and one of the least understood. In private, she was as reserved and refined as her characters were bold and bawdy. Almost a Method actor in her approach, she took her work seriously. When crew members and audiences laughed, she asked why - as if they were laughing at her - and all her life she remained unsure of her gifts.

William V. Madison examines Kahn's film career, including not only her triumphs with Mel Brooks and Peter Bogdanovich, but also her overlooked performances in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother and Judy Berlin, her final film. Her work in television - notably her sitcoms - also comes into focus. New York theater showered her with accolades, but also with remarkably bad luck, culminating in a disastrous outing in On the Twentieth Century that wrecked her reputation on Broadway. Only with her Tony-winning performance in The Sisters Rosensweig, fifteen years later, did Kahn regain her standing.

Drawing on new interviews with family, friends, and such colleagues as Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett, Gene Wilder, Harold Prince, and Eileen Brennan, as well as archival press and private writings, Madison uncovers Kahn's lonely childhood and her struggles as a single woman working to provide for her erratic mother. Above all, Madison reveals the paramount importance of music in Kahn's life. A talented singer, she entertained offers for operatic engagements long after she was an established Hollywood star, and she treated each script as a score. As Kahn told one friend, her ambition was "to be the music.

Reviews

When I started out in New York, in the late 60's, one of my earliest friends and fellow performers at Upstairs at the Downstairs was the inimitable Madeline Kahn. As young and struggling artists, we bonded as great friends, and remained friends for thirty years. Even back then, I knew her talent would take her far. She was so gifted in so many ways, it's difficult to summarize her genius. I'm delighted that William V. Madison's book has perfectly captured her irreverent humor as well as all the challenges she faced as a single working woman. Madeline continues to influence younger artists today, and her performances are a treasure for all of us." - Lily Tomlin, "Below the Belt" revue, Upstairs at the Downstairs.

"Bids to become the surprise biography of the year. A great untold story intriguingly revealed. Superbly researched, digs deep into the life and times of its subject and captures her essence." - Dan Rather.

"For everyone who found her an enigmatic delight on stages and screens, the book is a resonant must-read, evoking its subject and the golden age of theater and film in which she lived." - Tom Shales, Pulitzer Prize-winning television critic.

"Madeline Kahn is the best comic or dramatic actress, the best singer - serious or comic - and the best I've worked with, or known in my life." - Gene Wilder.

"Madeline was bright, committed, thoughtful, and one of the most remarkable actresses I have ever worked with. William V. Madison's biography captures Madeline's complexity and finely documents her career and personal life." - Jane Alexander, actress, author, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and wildlife conservationist.
Illustrations 48 b&w photos, filmography
Pages 372
Dimensions 229 x 152
Date Published 26 Sep 2016
Publisher University Press of Mississippi
Series Hollywood Legends Series
Subject/s Films, cinema   Individual actors & performers   Biography & True Stories   Theatre: individual actors & directors  
William V. Madison, New York, New York, USA is a former producer at CBS News and a former associate editor of Opera News; he was the lone production assistant on the Broadway musical Rags in 1986. A graduate of Brown University and of Columbia's School of Creative Writing, he is a native Texan.

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