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Swanson on Swanson

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  606 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Once the most famous woman in the world, she still found time to be a loving mother. Worshipped by the world's most dynamic men on screen, and off, and adored by no less than six husbands, directed by such powerhouses as Chaplin, DeMille, Stroheim, Billy Wilder, she surrendered her will to no man. Offered a million-plus tax free dollars by Paramount, she defied the studio ...more
Unknown Binding, 535 pages
Published January 1st 1980 by Random House (NY)
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Jan 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it
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 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best autobiographies written by a celebrity. A really good read even if you know nothing of Gloria Swanson or her movies.
Feb 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Samantha Glasser
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
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 14, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Joy H.
Jun 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
C. Zampa
Apr 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it liked it
Relatively clear-eyed and detailed autobiography, though not sure how accurate it is. Very entertaining.
Winter Sophia Rose
Inspiring, Powerful & Compelling!
Aug 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Henry Senecal
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Terry Michael
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dani Brecher
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
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.)
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: film buffs
Shelves: favorites
Fascinating look into the mind and life 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, an extremely satisfying read, only wish she had updated it to cover her later years.
Hala Pickford
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: starlets
I feel I might be missing a little perspective with this book, since Gloria definitely had her point of view on matters. She was also a wonderful writer and admitted to many of her darker sides including the abortions she regretted. I enjoyed her insights and I think most of it was pretty accurate…sometimes its hard to tell with such bios!
Nov 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book - and a fascinating woman. I could not finish it - took me almost a month to read the first half. I lost steam and just had to cry "uncle". Will likely pick it back up one day to read the 2nd half of her life....
This is definitely one of my Favorite Auto-Biographies for sure. I really enjoyed reading about Gloria's life, from Gloria. This book is one that I kept and will re-read. The insight and stories she has about early Hollywood, first hand are great to read. Loved this Book!!!
K Martinez
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: have-read
This is a great biography the way she covers the silent film era very well written and so easy to read. Reading this I felt i was in the era that to me means its a good book
Oct 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most readable movie star autobiographies. Very colorful, but I wouldn't take every word as being true.
Jul 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite a lengthy biography; Gloria obviously had a lot to say....interesting life, very interesting woman.
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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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