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Underfoot in Show Business (1961)
by Helene Hanff
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In her spirited, witty and vastly entertaining memoir, Helene Hanff recalls her ingenuous attempts to crash Broadway in the early forties as one of "the other 999." Naive, nearsighted, frequently penniless but hopelessly stage-struck, she found her life governed by Flanagan's Law: "No matter what happens to you, it's unexpected." Therefore, as a prize-winning Theatre Guild protégée with a brilliant future, Helene naturally found that all the producers who were going to produce her plays didn't, and all the agents who were going to sell her plays couldn't. Together with her best friend Maxine, an aspiring actress consigned to playing the comedy-ingénue in plays that regularly folded after five performances, she cultivated the "delicate, illegal art of getting everything for nothing"-from free seats to every Broadway show and neighborhood movie and borrowed outfits from Saks to voice lessons for Maxine and Greek lessons for Helene. To keep body and soul together until Broadway fame arrived, they devised an economic survival system that embraced such unlikely jobs as taking street-corner.
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