Hirschfeld: The Biography
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by Ellen Stern
Al Hirschfeld knew everybody and drew everybody. He occupied the twentieth century, and illustrated it. Hirschfeld: The Biography is the first portrait of the renowned artist's life—as spirited and unique as his pen-and-ink drawings. Beginning in the 1920s, he caricatured Hollywood actors, Washington politicians, and—his favorite—celebrities of the stage. Broadway belonged to Hirschfeld. His work appeared in the New York Times and other publications, as well as on book jackets, album covers, posters, and postage stamps, for more than seventy-five years.
He lived in Paris, Moscow, and Bali, and in a pink New York townhouse on a star-studded block where his closest friends—Carol Channing, S. J. Perelman, Gloria Vanderbilt, Brooks Atkinson, Elia Kazan, Marlene Dietrich, and William Saroyan—flocked in and out. He played the piano, went to jazz joints with Eugene O'Neill, and wrote a musical that bombed. He drove until he was ninety-eight years old and always found a parking space. He worked every day, threw dinner parties twice a week, and hosted New Year's Eve soirees that were legendary. He had three wives, a formidable agent, and a daughter, Nina, the most famous little girl that no one knows. Hirschfeld died in 2003, at the age of ninety-nine. "If you live long enough," he liked to say, "everything happens." For him, it did. And good and bad—it's all here. Through interviews with Hirschfeld himself, his friends and family (including the mysterious Nina), and his famous subjects, as well as through letters, scrapbooks, and home movies, Ellen Stern has crafted a delightful, detailed, and definitive portrait of Al Hirschfeld, one of our most beloved, and most influential, artists.