Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them
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Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  868 ratings  ·  251 reviews
Rita Hayworth dancing by candlelight in a small Mexican village; Elizabeth Taylor devouring homemade pasta and tenderly wrapping him in her pashmina scarf; streaking for Sir Laurence Olivier in a drafty English castle; terrifying a dozing Jackie Onassis; carrying an unconscious Montgomery Clift to safety on a dark New York City street.

Captured forever in a unique memoir, F...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Harper (first published March 20th 2012)
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I generally am not much of a fan of celebrity memoirs. A little too much "Chapter one: I am born" for me. Frank Langella bypasses all of that by writing an episodic memoir composed solely of his interactions with the famous (some of whom he met fleetingly and a few not at all.)

As the subtitle says and as Langella has pointed out in interviews, these are famous people as he experienced them, not necessarily as they actually were. He elected to only feature the deceased and dedicates a chapter to...more
Title is accurate - you don't learn much about Frank except that he has a way of ingratiating himself with people and he likes to screw. The sexual tidbits weren't all that salacious or interesting - I thought the subject of who and when presented rather boorishly. Frank redeems the book when he talks about his deepest friendships and about loss. There he allows himself to become a bit vulnerable and it can be touching, if just momentarily so. Not many people can come across as silmutaneously se...more
Ian W. Hill
A quick, enjoyable read, but not as much fun as I expected from the Times review. I've seen this called "Places My Penis Has Been," and there are indeed many wonderful stories of the women Langella has known, but the overall sense of the book is of great melancholy -- not for nothing are the chapters placed in the order in which their subjects died. He tells more than a few stories of great S.O.B.s he has known, but even the people he liked and loved come off as hugely flawed and deeply unhappy,...more
Bill Breedlove
I came to this book not as die-hard "fan" of Mr. Langella's work--I have liked some of his performances, and others not so much, he was never "the deciding factor" for me in seeing a film or play. He has played Dracula and Nixon, as well as Skeletor and Dog the Bad Pirate. His career has spanned five decades, which is impressive as a stand alone fact. In fact, it provides a good entry point to this book, which is filled with his memories of time spent with other well-known folks in theatre, movi...more
Langella's huge ego gets in the way of this guarded book, which tells stories about dead famous people he supposedly knew. He rarely gives enough details in any story to make it interesting and uses much of it to look down upon names much bigger than his. He is downright mean at times. How he thinks he's greater than Paul Newman and Charlton Heston we'll never know, but he says they can't act (despite their Academy Awards).

There are almost no self-revelations here, carefully preserving Langella'...more
I thought this book would be a little like listening to a grocery store tabloid but it wasn’t. Langella gives a well written, insightful and sensitive voice to some great stories he shared with other famous people. That is not to say he takes the warts off,,, not even for himself. Not only are his memories told in almost elegant prose but his narration is splendid

I must admit that I’ve been in love with Mr. Langella since I saw The Twelve Chairs and again when I saw the Sphinx (he says it was a...more
Cindy Knoke
This is the kind of book you read when you want your brain to veg a bit with some really useless gossip.
Like when you are in the dentists office or in the waiting room for your colonoscopy.
Except it was a bit better than that.
Mainly because Langella is so honest about himself.
I guess he was kind of a pretty boy actor. He is unflinching about his sexual peccadilloes and those of the great actors of the day.
He says Paul Newman was an asshole.
With all those charities helping dying kids an...more
T Fool
Langella's acting is intense and dangerous. He's a guy you'll do your best to be careful around. I didn't know him as a writer until this. The writing comes across as the acting does. It's got the same quiet snap in its smart put-downs, and enough of those to make a reader grateful for the praise that goes out when it goes out.

With a single exception all the celebrities he accounts for have died, the contents set up in order of decease. He's met some you'd expect and some you wouldn't. JFK in ye...more
This is one of the better celebrity memoirs that I have read. Langella is witty,articulate and quite a good writer. He was a young Italian boy who had grown up in New Jersey and was working at the Cape Playhouse when he became friends with Bunny Melon's daughter. Through his warm relationship with her family, he met people like John and Jackie Kennedy. As an actor on the stage in both the U.S. and London, he has known fascinating people from the entertainment business. As he tells about his impr...more
Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them by Frank Langella

Not only is Frank Langella a marvelous and talented actor, it turns out he is a gifted writer as well. His turn of phrase is a delight to read. His candid stories of the wide array of famous people he has known, both casually and intimately, are fabulous. This is definitely not a kiss and tell book. Langella remains a gentleman at all times. The few intimate encounters he does mention are told with sensitivity and discretion.

(I had written a lengthy review earlier, lost to a computer "hiccup" at the last minute)

If you're expecting to learn more about Langella himself, you get a feel for who he is, but not a lot about his own off-screen life; however, that may be as he's careful about respecting others' privacy. What you get here are highlights (although a few are a bit drawn out) of his interactions with famous names, usually film stars, some stage names, and a few other less-commonly known folks as well. I think th...more
I don't usually read auto-biographies, and I have never before read anything autobiographical by any actor. I made an exception with this book by Frank Langella, because he is someone I recently discovered and I felt intrigued about him and because I like the concept of his book: a collection of short chapters about the people, more or less well known, he has met during his life.

Some reviews, like the one by the New York Times, can be misleading. This is not a book about his sexual conquests, as...more
Frank Langella as an actor is one of those guys who doesn't go in for a lot of rigmarole; he just does the job. I happen to think he does it quite well--check out the 1979 version of Dracula, or The Ninth Gate, where he stood out well against Johnny Depp's scenery chewing performance if you don't know what I'm talking about.

On to the book review, though (one gets the impression Mr. L. wouldn't stand for too much ass kissing about his accomplishments, "Get it done." he might say.)

As a memoir, thi...more
Susan Eisenberg
Frank Langella's new memoir, DROPPED NAMES, is a fast-paced, juicy tell-all about the actor's relationships with many famous colleagues over the past 35 or so years. Though the book is receiving publicity for Langella's critical comments about fellow actors including Laurence Olivier, and his affairs with Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor, and possibly Jackie Kennedy just before she married Ari Onassis (their relationship remains unclear on the page), I was moved by Langella's accounts of three ai...more
A perfect summer book -- fun, low intellectual investment, and full of juicy gossip. Pick it up, take a few minutes to read a single chapter devoted to Langella's encounter with a given notable -- a tasty reading snack. Then put it down for several days and come back to it again when you are looking for something to help you pass a few lazy minutes with no worries about having to remember where you were.

In the end though, it's outlook is nostalgic and sad. So many tales of his are of wounded and...more
Mary Lois Timbes
Langella is a bit of a sly fox, opening the curtain to reveal the truth about so many actors and theatrical luminaries he has known, all of them dead. He does have some dishy stories and many names I like to see dropped, and he frankly does skewer some sacred cows like Lee Strasberg, Roddy McDowell, Cary Grant, and Anne Bancroft. He has his favorites, too, like Raul Julia with whom he shared a long bromance, Jo Van Fleet, whom he admired and felt sorry for, and Maureen Stapleton, about whom I've...more
Two lines come to mind when thinking of this book. The first my father said to me when I was about 8 years old. "Anyone who belittles others is really belittling themselves". My father never said a bad word about anyone. He was a wonderful person, everyone loved him.

The second line is Alice Roosevelt's. "Anyone who has nothing nice to say about anyone...come sit by me."

Frank Langella is definitely in the Alice Roosevelt camp. He's written a memoir of people he has known. And he tells the truth,...more
It was AN UTTER DELIGHT to read this book. It lived fully up to its billing as advertised recently in USA Today. With clarity, insight, and an unflinching truthfulness and candor, Langella provides the reader with penetrating and well-crafted vignettes throughout his 50-year acting career of the many notable people of the last half of the 20th century (e.g. President Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Rita Hayworth, James Mason, George C. Scott, Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, the Queen Mother, R...more
Bridget Petrella
Rita Hayworth dancing by candlelight in a small Mexican village; Elizabeth Taylor devouring homemade pasta and tenderly wrapping him in her pashmina scarf; streaking for Sir Laurence Olivier in a drafty English castle; terrifying a dozing Jackie Onassis; carrying an unconscious Montgomery Clift to safety on a dark New York City street. Captured forever in a unique memoir, Frank Langella's myriad encounters with some of the past century's most famous human beings are profoundly affecting, funny,...more
What a fun book to read. Gossip like you never dreamed about everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Bunny Mellon written with candor and trenchant prose. The first three anecdotes had me in tears and I was hooked. Each famous person has a few pages as remembered by Frank Langella who reveals as much about himself as he does those whose names he drops. Not everyone from in his rich life in the theater and the elite of NYC society is featured, only those that have passed on. The surprises were Anne Bancr...more
I think Frank Langella is a terrific actor, so I was interested in reading his memoir. The premise -- each chapter about his relationship/interaction with another famous person (mostly actors) -- is intriguing. Unfortunately, the book suffers, IMHO, from dwelling on his intimate relations with so many of the people profiled or mentioned. I found this repetitive and therefore boring. If he had left out the fact that he slept with Ms/Mrs/Miss so and so, I would have much preferred the profiles. Co...more
I listened to this book, thinking that it was pointless to *read* what a great actor with a beautiful voice would write about his life when I could listen to him read it. I was not disappointed. Langella is a gifted writer for the reason that he says great actors are great: they are able to practice their art with honestly. Langella's view of actors is somewhat condescending, which is something that he often accuses his famous friends of being. However, his portraits range from funny to poignant...more
This was certainly different than anything I've read lately. Mr. Langella's writing style is such that you feel like you are sitting in a room gossiping with him, which I am pretty sure was his intention. Some of the stories were very interesting, particularly the ones about the Kennedy's and Elizabeth Taylor. Many of the famous men and women were way before my time and I had no idea who they were, which diminished the stories somewhat. All and all, it wasn't the best book I've ever read, but it...more
As a young apprentice actor in the 1960's Mr. Langella meets Bunny Mellon outside the theater as he is painting backdrops. Bunny is there to have lunch with her daughter, the ill fated Eliza who would meet a tragic end on the streets of Greenwich Villages many years later. All of the people that Langella writes about are dead, except the one who haunts the book at it's writing, Bunny Mellon herself. Mrs. Mellon sits like a puppet master pulling his strings and shaping him throughout his life. I...more
I like books that dish about the rich and famous. Recent examples: This Town and Johnny Carson. And now I can add Dropped Names to the list of enjoyable reads because Langella writes (selectively, of course) about the famous people he has known. He mentions their successes and failures, their strengths and insecurities, their acting abilities and stage/screen shortcomings, their drinking, and particularly their dissolution in old age.

It's not a surprise Langella portrays so many actors in their...more
Ezekiel Tyrus
At times funny and sleazy, in a good way, and joyful read. His ego is every bit as insufferable as the people he writes about and criticizes for being insufferable egomaniacs and I flat-out don't agree with what he says about the acting ability of some of the other actors he writes. He dismisses Paul Newman as a pretty-boy mediocre actor. I've watched 'Cool Hand Luke' and 'Slapshot' about 100 times and there's no movie with Frank Langella I care to see more than once. He's a character actor who...more
Brett Davison
Not so much a memoir as reminiscence of friends passed. Sure he’s at the centre of the book & sure he has a…healthy ego. But that’s the point isn’t it? I mean after all it’s his book about himself… There’s no way a shrinking violet would have survived the times & social circumstances, nor cut a phallic swathe through the society jungle which he has so obviously & successfully done. And whilst his ego is sizeable he is not above examining his own failings with obvious candour.

Langella is the rare celebrity who realises that we read actors' bios mostly for the great gossip about the famous. These books usually following the same chronological order: who my parents and grandparents were, where and when I was born, how I grew up, my marriage(s), children, and where I am now, and we all plow through that when what we really want is the stories about people we recognise. Langella dispenses with the usual boring structure and instead gives the reader what s/he wants: a ser...more
Apr 14, 2012 Sylvia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Sylvia by: No one
This was a very enjoyable book, more like sitting down with the author over a cup of coffee and reminiscing about people he had known or briefly encountered over the years. He's clear about this NOT being an autobiography but only his experiences with several well known people. These are one man's memories, and they are presented thoughtfully and honestly. I would recommend this without reserve.
I only got halfway through this one. It was recommended by our librarian after I shared how much I enjoyed a Frank Langella movie: "Robot and Frank". I started out really liking it, and read the most pages in my first sitting. I like that each chapter is devoted to a certain person, and whether that experience or encounter with them was for a brief moment or carried on over the course of years was fun to discover. It just started getting tedious, like I was studying, because if I was unfamiliar...more
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Opinion about book. 7 21 Apr 06, 2013 06:38AM  
Langella's prose 1 9 May 23, 2012 07:04PM  
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