Double Life: A Love Story from Broadway to Hollywood
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Double Life: A Love Story from Broadway to Hollywood

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  90 ratings  ·  22 reviews

Gay marriage is at the forefront of America's political battles. The human story at the center of this debate is told in Double Life: A Love Story, a dual memoir by a gay male couple in a 50 plus year relationship. With high profiles in the entertainment, advertising and art communities, the authors offer a virtual timeline of how gay relationships have gained acceptance i

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published November 15th 2011 by Magnus Books (first published October 1st 2010)
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"Double Life" refers to the fact that the two authors of this memoir, Norman Sunshine and Alan Shayne, lived quietly as a not-quite-out gay couple in the entertainment and advertising industries for 50 years. The great accomplishment of their life together may be the fact that they never overtly hid their relationship, but instead lived together for most of these decades, in a time when most gay high-powered Hollywood and New York City professionals stayed on the down low in separate homes or li...more
Holly Cline
I won this through First Reads, and it ended up being the 2nd great memoir I've read recently. It was an ambitious concept to treat this as a dual memoir of a life shared, but it worked. Both Alan & Norman had successful lives independently but just as great of a story is the one they had together. Reading through the 50+ years covered in this book reminds us that as far as we have to go regarding equality in this country (and world), we've come a very long way. Also, both authors are forthc...more
David Sweeney
When one considers that Edward Carpenter, socialist, political activist and poet lived as an openly gay may with George Merrill from 1898 to 1928 (when Merrill died) and endured a great deal more in Victorian England, this book is really very slight. At times just celebrity gossip, but really not much insight into the changing attitudes of the last 50 years. Very glad that they have had a great relationship and it is celebrated. (One major peeve is the appalling editing that saw a story repeated...more

A success on many levels. Easily the best non-fiction book I've read this year.
Sean Kennedy
This is actually way closer to a four, but there were times when it fell into celebrity gossip (which is fun to hear) but the reason why I wanted to read this book was to know more about the couple writing it - and these frequent little trips down memory lane distracted from their story and took up valuable space which could have been devoted to them.

Because it is a fascinating story. A gay couple that have been together for fifty years, and lived semi-openly but quietly despite the nature of th...more
Julia Reed
Double Life is a really enjoyable memoir of the 50-plus year relationship of Norman Sunshine and Alan Shayne, two people who are very much in love, and lucky enough to share their very rich lives together.

To use my favorite (borrowed line), Alan and Norman were "gay before it was fashionable." They meet in the late 1950s/early 60s, when Alan was a struggling actor and Norman was a freelance illustrator, both living in New York. Both are veterans of failed marriages with women and difficult earl...more
Patrick Challis
For the full review please follow the link.


With the whole equality and marriages being in the news so much these days, I was a little worried that this book may come across as a little bit preachy but that wasn't the case.

The problem with this site and rating books is that you can't give half stars. Rating it a 3 makes it sound like the book isn't as good as it actually is yet I wouldn't say it's good enough for a four, hence the 3.5 score on my site.

Bobby Simic
Chronicles the 50-year relationship of now-married gay couple, Alan Shayne, an aspiring actor who eventually becomes a TV and film exec, and artist Norman Sunshine.

Despite it's subtitle, this isn't so much a story of the couple than two stories in one book, as chapters alternate between Shayne and Sunshine's recollections of mostly professional setbacks and successes. Obviously, their stories intersect, but it really focuses more on the two men's separate stories with the other as the supporting...more

This book is about many things, but at its core is the 50+ year long marriage of two interesting people: Alan Shayne, an actor turned producer, and Norman Sunshine, an artist in many areas. Parts of the book describe their friendships with a great many famous people, so, fun to read. the heart of the book, though, is the love Alan and Norman share, practically from the moment they met, the bickering and misunderstandings that are part of any relationship, and of course, the double life they had...more
Christoph Fischer
"Double Life by Alan Shayne Double Life: A Love Story from Broadway to Hollywood" by Alan Shayne is a memoir, a love story and an important piece of gay literature. The media couple met in 1958 and were together since, now they got married in 2011.
This is their story, told in alternating viewpoints, beautifully and in much detail about how politics, attitudes, legislation and their friends and colleagues changed over the 50 years of their love.
While homosexuality was cast out many had no role mo...more
I saw the two handsome men on the cover; one gazing towards the distance, the other staring intensely forward. I was intrigued by them and needed to read their love story that promised to be so candidly revealed. I wanted to find out how they navigated the early years when even Broadway and Hollywood whispered about gay relationships.

I found that the authors related the same ups and downs, initial comic blunders and poignancy or all marriages yet with a backdrop of glamorous singers, theater ico...more
This was more life story than love story. I was hoping for more glimpses into the maintenance of a forty year relationship. The premise was engaging, the author's story interesting, I just wanted more them and less Hollywood insider stories. I suppose it's all in why you first pick a book up and your expectations therein. It was well written, a little slow paced at the beginning, but kept my interest throughout. It was definitely a story of the times and gave a lot of insight into the Hollywood...more
Dave Radtke
It was a good book and an enjoyable read. However, it did start to drag on a bit at the end. They are both interesting people, but there wasn't much story to keep the reader interested. Perhaps seeing how "normal" this gay couple was through their 50 years was the point. I'm very happy I read it, but I was very happy when it was over.

They do seem like amazing people. It would be awesome to meet them in real life. I wish them many more years of happiness.
Ene Riisna
Have you ever read a book abut a love between two men that lasts over 50 years? This is a fascinating, profound, and important book. It is also hilarious, I laughed out loud, and then at the end I cried.

A friend who read it said it should be a textbook in schools! I agree.

I recommend it, you wont want to put it down.

Ene Riisna
Probably the most detailed account of a love story spanning decades I've ever read. Simply beautiful and very relevant. Theater, movies, and art lovers alike will enjoy the dual coast accounts of their days in Hollywood and New York. My favorite parts are the last few chapters. Bravo to these two authors for their honesty.
Marianne Fanning
It was an interesting book. I found the stories and mention of Hollywood's elite fun and I think it livened the book up a bit. They did a nice job of going back and forth ... Alan writing a chapter from his perspective and then Norman's perspective.
A straightforward and ultimately heart-warming account of two men who prove that soul mates do indeed exist. At times mundane considering the colorful past of these two men, I am left content knowing about the existence of their relationship.
I enjoyed this book, mainly because I was in both show business and the ad business in the 70s and 80s, so a lot of the names resonated with me. The book didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, but it was a lovely pleasant read.
Brian Nystedt
I truly enjoyed sharing the life's journey to these to gentlemen. Great heart, realy love and affections - not to mention friendship, and fun name-dropping tales...
Steven Kruger
Rather simplistic writing, but a sweet story.
this book sounds great i would love to read it!!
Avery good read
Marissa marked it as to-read
Aug 07, 2014
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Alan Shayne, co-writer of the memoir Double Life with Norman Sunshine, was President of Warner Brothers Television for ten years, where he shepherded such hit shows as Alice, The Dukes of Hazard, Night Court, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Head of the Class and Growing Pains. In addition to holding other positions at the Warner Brothers Studio, he has been an independent film and television producer wit...more
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“After 50 years together as a couple:

"Look how fast the leaves are falling now," Alan says. "The trees will be bare in a couple of days. Do you realize that we have watched the leaves fall together for more than fifty autumns?"

I stand quietly, looking at Alan, letting his words sink in. I am suddenly so moved.”
“We both grew up at a time when homosexuality was not even spoken about. There were certainly no books that could help a young person understand that two people of the same sex could build a happy, productive and loving life together. When we entered our 50th year, another same sex couple told us we were ‘an inspiration’, so we began to feel we had the responsibility to make what we’ve experienced available to others. We also wanted to show people who were not gay that our life was not unlike theirs. We are all pretty much the same, so we deserve equal protection under the Constitution.” 3 likes
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