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Swanson on Swanson

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  552 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Book by Gloria Swanson
Paperback, 549 pages
Published November 1st 1981 by Pocket Books (Mm) (first published 1980)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,388)
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Jan 10, 2015 Lucy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I fell a bit in love with Gloria reading her biography. It's non stop from her grace onto the silent screens of cinema to working her way to becoming the most famous celebrity on the planet. All without an ounce of arrogance, desperation or any other pathological profile that seems to gravitate celebrities towards hollywood. After all who else would turn down one of the first $1 million dollar contract to go on to produce her own movies? It only made me wish I had half the ounce of courage and g ...more
Apr 07, 2010 Karla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We benefited from Swanson's apparent packrat habit of not throwing anything away. This book is massive, and crammed full of facts and details that I'm sure she would have been able to verify by whipping out a telegram or signed contract. She doesn't gloss over much, and her marriage to Wallace Beery reads like a nightmare. I've always wondered why she married him, and I don't think she even knew. "Young and stupid" would be a good bet and an age-old reason.

Swanson was a classy woman whose every
Mar 14, 2009 Melanie rated it it was amazing
AWESOME! Old Hollywood rocks and there are so many interesting details found in this book. What's amazing is it's written by Gloria Swanson, herself.
Mar 19, 2007 amy rated it it was amazing
One of the best autobiographies written by a celebrity. A really good read even if you know nothing of Gloria Swanson or her movies.
Samantha Glasser
Oct 19, 2016 Samantha Glasser rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite movie star biographies. Gloria Swanson was a major star during the silent era, and she worked with greats like Charlie Chaplin, Cecil B. DeMille, and Erich von Stroheim. She was married several times, had a famous affair with Joseph Kennedy, and concieved several children. Her career failed when talkies came, but triumphed again in 1950 with Sunset Boulevard, for which she was nominated for an Oscar. Through her success, she kept a level head and a great work ethic.

Lee Anne
Nov 01, 2015 Lee Anne rated it really liked it
This autobiography is no sugar-coated reminiscence of Hollywood's Golden Age: chapter one opens with Swanson nearly dead from an abortion she had to save her reputation from the scandal that would have ensued had the public known she was pregnant before her THIRD marriage, which had taken place just the day before the procedure. There are plenty of other juicy details, too, including a teenage marriage, wedding night rape, another abortion (induced by her husband, unbeknownst to her), and of cou ...more
Apr 01, 2011 Julai rated it did not like it
The first chapter of Swanson on Swanson starts with a bang and ends with a dumpster. Yes, poor Gloria finds herself pregnant, after being SWEPT AWAY BY PASSION (this usually happens once a lifetime to us poor, normal, non-Hollywood folks, but for the great Swanson, it is a near-daily experience.) Although she has just landed a member of the French nobility and become La Marquise de la Falaise de la Coudray (I just read this in my head like "La Marbluh de la bluh bluh de la blahhhh") if she gives ...more
Apr 12, 2009 Frances rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating book about a truly fascinating woman. It is so amazing to read the way Hollywood was when Gloria Swanson was first starting out. So very different from the way it is today. It was a long book but very much worth the effort. If you like Hollywood stories, this one pulls no punches. You finish the book feeling you know this woman.
Jul 05, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: hollywood
Should be at least 4.5. I've only seen Beyond the Rocks, and I didn't realize how interesting and awesome Gloria Swanson is! I appreciated reading a celebrity bio that arrives somewhere legitimately wiser than where it starts. Where David Niven's peters out (although I <3 him), GS rounds everything up with believable life lessons. She makes me hopeful that I will make it through youthful blundering to better self realization and acceptance.

Also, I loved that 2/3 of the book was silent movie e
C. Zampa
Apr 01, 2011 C. Zampa rated it it was amazing
I cannot say enough about this book, this woman. My hero. My idol. Swanson on Swanson is an enthralling memoir of a woman whose life reads like delicious fiction. A pioneer. A woman who toughed it out in a man's world and succeeded. A fabulous dynamo. Her story is an inside look into silent Hollywood, intimate peeks at all the famous stars, the life style, the glitz and glamor of days long past.
A remarkable woman. A woman far ahead of her time.
Joy H.
Sep 12, 2009 Joy H. rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography
This autobiography was so interesting that it read like a good novel. Gloria Swanson was quite a lady. She branched out from acting into other areas like the producing of films, hosting talk shows, designing clothes, and even doing sculpture and creating art. She even tried her hand at inventing. As for her life in the film industry, it was intriguing to go behind the scenes and get the background stories.
Feb 28, 2009 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best autobiographies I've read. Couldn't put it down. It's as long as Gone With the Wind but it is fabulous.
Jan 28, 2009 Greta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Relatively clear-eyed and detailed autobiography, though not sure how accurate it is. Very entertaining.
Terry Michael
Aug 16, 2014 Terry Michael rated it really liked it
This is the quintessential Hollywood autobiography from one of the first genuine stars of the silent screen to talkies. She covers her childhood, husbands (Wallace Beery was one), lovers (Joe Kennedy, whom she claims ravaged her financially and very nearly destroyed her professionally through ill-advised films produced by his company), movie-making, ex-patriots, Hollywood high society, being ungodly rich, and her passionate dislike of refined sugar. It's such a broad but detailed overview of the ...more
Sep 02, 2013 Jeannine rated it really liked it
Entertaining and informative autobiography from one of early film's greatest stars, Gloria Swanson. This is a hefty book and covers a lot of ground (just documenting her various marriages and affairs could have covered all 549 pages) and almost her entire life (from 1899 to 1980 when this was published. She died in 1983).

Swanson covers all the bases you'd expect in an autobio (relationships, children, money problems, etc.) and she goes into great (but repetitive) detail about various receptions
Oct 22, 2016 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hollywood-books
Gloria was 100 years ahead of her time with her business ventures and especially with her love of macrobiotics. I thought this book would be tedious and it wasn't at all. She did a very good job recalling her 80+ year life. It was very interesting to learn about, but damn was her taste in men horrible?! I wanted to yell at her, NO, girl stop it!!! But I guess everyone knows that one girl who just keeps dating/marrying garbage cans. For Gloria's friends, it was her.
Henry Senecal
Apr 03, 2014 Henry Senecal rated it it was amazing
I've read this book many times. It is one of my all-time favorite biographies. True, I am an avid fan of most themes from classic Hollywood, but this read in particular is a grand portrait in a grand woman's own words.

As a rich girl that grew-up to become a star of a certain strata there is a hint of pretension. It's evident in the title alone, singularly identifying herself merely as "Swanson" because you would surely know exactly who she was! It's okay though. She is due that respect at least
Claudia Ey
Mar 23, 2015 Claudia Ey is currently reading it
Just saw " Sunset Blvd" in the the theater. She is a really good actress. Read her bio on Wikipedia and decided to get this book on Amazon for $4.00. Pretty good so far.
Kelly Martinez
Jul 28, 2016 Kelly Martinez rated it really liked it
A wonderful first hand account of a now by gone era. Engrossing and I feel as honest as a movie star would take time to write
Jul 09, 2016 La rated it liked it
Quite a lengthy biography; Gloria obviously had a lot to say....interesting life, very interesting woman.
Pamela Hesenflow- lake
Mar 12, 2015 Pamela Hesenflow- lake rated it really liked it
I read this book many years ago when it first came out. It is still one of my favorite biographical reads.
Jun 29, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this back in the 80s and loved it. Top-notch movie star biog.
Dani Brecher
Jan 12, 2013 Dani Brecher rated it really liked it
This was a really delightful memoir. Gloria Swanson knew everybody in silent Hollywood and talks about all of them. Her lack of self-reflection is pretty charming, actually, and she comes out of every unfortunate situation (usually brought on by letting the men in her life run her business or suddenly deciding not to honor a contract) wonderfully. I really enjoyed it, as Miss Swanson embodies basically everything you could want a silent film star to be. It's hard to pick a favorite moment, but I ...more
Winter Sophia Rose
Oct 28, 2014 Winter Sophia Rose rated it it was amazing
Inspiring, Powerful & Compelling!
Wendy Allen
Dec 27, 2014 Wendy Allen rated it it was amazing
A must read ~ several times!
Swanson and her ghostwriter (I understand it was her last husband, although maybe someone could correct me) manage to convey a very distinct personality spiced up with bits of gossip about classic Hollywood and Joseph Kennedy - two subjects that are, we can all agree, excellent subjects for gossip. She seems quite frank and forthright, unapologetic but also touched by guilt, especially on the topic of her abortion, which more or less opens the book.

Also, I kind of want her third husband.
Oct 20, 2013 Chandler rated it liked it
Much like Charlie Chaplin's autobiography or Mack Sennett's reminiscences, one must take with a grain of salt the stories of early Hollywood and movie-making. Swanson was THE epitome of the silent screen actress, and this "memoir" celebrates that. When it comes to memoir being totally true or not, one must allow for a suspension of disbelief among the movie colony. (Then again, I am not a big fan of Miss Swanson's work anyway.)
Jun 03, 2013 Sveta rated it did not like it
The book is a collection of salaries, bland things about celebrity interviews generating money, and catalogs of the wealth of people she knew. Gluing that together is remembered compliments. The only real thing to her is money. Seems perfectly proud of her life, w/e, but oh my god boring to read about. HOWEVER she calls douching "internal baths", which looks to be a mainstay addition to my English vocabulary.
Aug 18, 2011 Emily rated it it was amazing
I would highly recommend this to anyone who's interested in early Hollywood. Even if you aren't obsessed, Gloria Swanson's life probably still makes for interesting reading. Here are some spoilers for things that happen in the first 30 pages: she has a secret abortion, gets a pet alligator, and is convinced that she's impregnated by her first kiss. The excitement continues from there.
Aug 01, 2013 Keely rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: film buffs
Fascinating look into the mind of a true star the likes of which we may never see again. She is literate, classy, dignified, erudite, passionate, articulate, and tactful. Hearing how she stood up to bullying and the status quo is inspiring. A real treat of a book, a very extremely satisfying read, only wish she had updated it to cover her later years.
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Most famously known for her portrayal of faded silent film star Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder's 1950 film SUNSET BOULEVARD, Swanson was enormously popular in silent films, especially in those under the direction of Cecil B. DeMille. She continued to work in films & television and on stage well into the 1970s. Her last screen appearance was in AIRPORT 1975 in which she played herself.

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