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Act One: An Autobiography by Moss Hart

Act One: An Autobiography

by Moss Hart

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344631,845 (4.29)12
  1. 00
    The Street Where I Live by Alan Jay Lerner (johnredmond)
    johnredmond: Similar subject matter (American theatre and musical theatre); similar period (mid 20th-century); and similar dramatis personae (Hart worked with Lerner on My Fair Lady and Camelot)... but most of all similar delightfully humorous memoirs
  2. 00
    Diary of a mad playwright by James Kirkwood (SomeGuyInVirginia)

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Moss Hart is best known for writing and directing successful Broadway plays in the early to mid 20th Century, including My Fair Lady, You Can't Take is With You, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Merrily We Roll Along, and George Washington Slept Here, among others. He doesn't cover any of that in his autobiography, however. True to the title, it is just "Act One" of his life: growing up in poverty in Brooklyn, bouncing from one crappy job to another in hopes of making a career in the theatre, and the long and painful process of getting his first play, Once in a Lifetime, to Broadway.

While it was really interesting to read about the professional theatre world from an insider's perspective, I couldn't help but feel like there was something a bit off about the book the whole time I was reading. I can't pinpoint exactly what because the individual parts of the book are all fine, and Hart is obviously a very talented writer. It's just that the book as a whole that didn't really do anything for me. Hart definitely has a sense of humor (as evidenced by his antics as social director for various summer camps). He also has an ego and is a big name-dropper (although he has no problem admitting to both of these traits). It also bothered me that before becoming wealthy and famous he would blow money on silly luxuries even through he was supporting his family who lived in poverty. There's a fine line between following your dream and being selfish, and Hart danced back and forth across it quite a bit. After checking out his Wikipedia page, I found that he lied about some of the details in this book. Obviously the reader always has remember that an autobiography will be extremely biases, but blatantly making things up is going a bit far, in my opinion. I still can't give the book a completely bad review, though, because for some reason I can't figure out, I didn't think it was a bad book. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Fairly entertaining, but Hart's descriptions of George S. Kaufman were more entertaining than those of his own life. ( )
  AliceAnna | Sep 9, 2014 |
A favourite of mine. Still reread it regularly. Some incredibly funny scenes and a great story.
  johnredmond | Mar 20, 2010 |
A book I read many, many years ago. Quite enjoyable as a portrait of the theater of its day. I especially remember the stories about Hart's collaboration with Kaufman on the comedy 'Once in a Lifetime'. ( )
  ffortsa | Dec 22, 2009 |
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For my wife, Kitty Carlisle The book that she asked for
First words
That afternoon, I went to work at the music store as usual.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312032722, Paperback)

Moss Hart was in the thick of American theater when everyone wore black tie on opening night and the world's most witty people entertained each other around a grand piano at late-night supper parties. It's an era of glamour that will never come again, but we have Hart's words on paper, and that is no small thing. A renowned director and theatrical collaborator, the brilliant Hart died too soon after the curtain went up on Act Two. If you want to know what it was like to be on the inside track in NYC in the '30s, '40s and '50s, here's a good place to find out.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The author, a successful playwright, recounts his lifelong involvement in the theater.

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