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v2.1 Reference


A Biography

A forgotten legend, Alla Nazimova was an electrifying Russian-born actress who brought Stanislavksy and Chekhov to American theatre, who was applauded, praised, adored—an icon of the stage and screen for forty years, before fading into the shadows of time. Gavin Lambert unearthed Nazimova's unpublished memoirs, letters, and notes, writing an evocative retelling of her extraordinary life.

Nazimova began her career on stage. Her shockingly natural approach to acting transformed the theatre of her day. She thrilled Laurette Taylor. The first time Tennessee Williams saw her he knew he wanted to be a playwright ("She was so shatteringly powerful that I couldn't stay in my seat"). Eugene O'Neill said of her that she gave him his "first conception of a modern theatre". She introduced the American stage and its audience to Ibsen's New Woman, a woman hell-bent on independence. It was a role Nazimova embodied offstage as well. When she toured in a repertory of A Doll's House, The Master Builder, and Hedda Gabler from 1907 to 1910, she earned the then unheard-of sum of five million dollars for theatre manager Lee Shubert.

Eight years later she ventured into film, going to Hollywood and signing a contract with Metro Pictures (before it was MGM) and becoming the highest-paid actress in silent pictures, ultimately writing, directing, and producing her own movies (Revelation, Stronger than Death, Billions, Salome). Nazimova was also a remarkable businesswoman. Four years later she formed her own film company. She was the only actress, other than Mae West, to become a movie star at forty, and was the first to cultivate the image of the "foreign" sophisticate, soon to be followed by Pola Negri, Greta Garbo, and Marlene Dietrich.

Lambert also delves into Nazimova's complex and dramatic personal life, from her tense relationship with her family to the numerous partners and lovers (both men and women) she had later in life. Nazimova: A Biography is a brilliant re-creation of the life and work of this complex, dark, glamorous, and important figure.

About the Author

Gavin Lambert was was a British-born screenwriter, novelist, and biographer. His film biographies include: On Cukor (G.P. Putnam's Sons), Norma Shearer: A Life (Knopf), Mainly About Lindsay Anderson (Knopf), and Natalie Wood: A Life (Knopf).

9780813153421 : nazimova-lambert
Paperback / softback
November 16, 2021
$24.95 USD

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