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Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  63 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Gloria Swanson defined what it meant to be a movie star, but her unforgettable role in Sunset Boulevard overshadowed the true story of her life. Now Stephen Michael Shearer sets the record straight in the first in-depth biography of the film legend.

Swanson was Hollywood's first successful glamour queen. Her stardom as an actress in the mid-1920s earned her millions of fans
ebook, 528 pages
Published August 27th 2013 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published October 2nd 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 159)
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Aug 26, 2013 Cynthia rated it it was amazing
More than a close-up
WOW! What a wild ride. Swanson had more lives than a cat. She was an actress, both silent and mainstream, on Broadway and Off Broadway, and on TV. She was a writer of her autobiography and or multiple articles on multiple topics and a play write. She was a director, producer, and financier/fund raiser for some of her movies. She was a whole foods maverick and alternate medicine advocate. Here are is a list of a few more of her incarnations: mother of three, devoted daughter,
Jan 08, 2016 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Swanson deserves better.
Drew Hoffman
Jan 12, 2014 Drew Hoffman rated it really liked it
"You're Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big." To which Norma Desmond replies,"I am big. It's the pictures that got small." That classic line from one of the greatest movies of all time resurrected the stalled career of silent star Gloria Swanson, firmly placing her in the pantheon of screen legends. "Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star" by Stephen Michael Shearer is a largely entertaining and illuminating look at Swanson's life and career. Admittedly, her behavior ...more
Tim Evanson
Dec 12, 2013 Tim Evanson rated it liked it
Stephen Shearer's biography of motion picture star Gloria Swanson is a solid work for anyone who wants to learn the truth behind the legend. Swanson's notoriously self-serving autobiography is littered with omissions and falsehoods, and throughout this biography Shearer helps readers learn the truth about this great film star.

The book is a very quick read, with accessible and breezy prose. I can't say it's snappy prose, or prose that is witty or has great turns of phrase. But none of the text is
Mar 15, 2015 Benjamin rated it it was amazing
Great biography on Gloria Swanson, best remembered for her role as Norma Desmond in 'Sunset Boulevard', but who was originally one of Hollywood's biggest stars and fashion idols in the 1920s. Her sway, glamour, extravagant lifestyle and spending established our still-existing image of the Hollywood superstar. She might not have been the nicest person to be around, but was certainly interesting to observe! Today, Hollywood makes stars; back then, a star named Gloria Swanson made Hollywood.
Sep 28, 2013 Melanie rated it liked it
I'm not sure what I expected from this book. I have been intrigued with Gloria Swanson since having first seen her in one of my favorite classic movies, Sunset Boulevard. The book provided great detail about the making of Ms. Swanson's silent movies and the various men she romanced and married. However, the book provided little depth as to the person Ms. Swanson was---maybe she was more the character "Gloria Swanson" than the person. I would recommend this book for classic movie fans for its goo ...more
Sep 25, 2013 Chandler rated it liked it
Despite some very telling anecdotes (which make for the usual gossipy reading material), this ambitious and (I will say this) thorough retelling of Swanson's life follows a cookie-cutter structure. What would have been the result if Shearer had followed Swanson's own biography and maybe told this from a more impressionistic (dreamlike) viewpoint. I think that would have befitted a star like Swanson rather than this standard, though informative, movie biography. (For a real literary approach to H ...more
Dec 27, 2013 Gillian rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
I really hate to give a book a bad review because I know I could never write a book myself. But this is one of the WORST biographies I have ever read. It is simply a combination of (1) a catalog of almost every outfit this star ever wore in EXCRUCIATING detail and (2) a lazy compendium of quotes from other authors about her films and performances, presumably because the author was unwilling to do his own work. Honestly, I felt if I had to read one more dress description, I was going to throw the ...more
Kathi Jackson
Feb 06, 2016 Kathi Jackson rated it liked it
I love reading about "old" stars and this was a good account.
Dec 11, 2013 Rose rated it really liked it
What a shame that almost all of Gloria Swanson's silent movies have been lost - especially when you read Mr. Shearer's descriptions of them. A lively, interesting biography. Nice illustrations,too.
Sep 20, 2013 Kerrie marked it as will-come-back-to  ·  review of another edition
11/15/13: I'm just not in the mood for non-fiction right now. My brain is fried. I'll come back to it later. (Plus it's big and bulky - need the ebook!)
Laura Lee
Sep 05, 2013 Laura Lee rated it really liked it
One of the better Hollywood bios I have read in awhile. Enjoyed very much. Lots of photos! Would recommend to any film buff.
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