The Biograph Girl Author:William J. Mann Grab your seat for a wild roller-coaster ride through the 20th century, led by a sassy, chain-smoking 107-year-old actress named Florence Lawrence. From her vaudeville childhood as "Baby Flo, The Child Wonder Whistler" to the snowy Bronx backlot where she shot her first motion picture, the lovely Florence Lawrence commanded - and demanded - atte... more »ntion. By 1910, she was the legendary, enigmatic Biograph Girl, hounded by shrieking fans and blinding flashbulbs - the world's very first movie star.
Yet, inevitably, the rabid interest in her faded - far too soon for a girl whose true identity had been lost amidst the glamorous trappings of Hollywood's glowing dawn. Reduced to MGM walk-on roles, a bedraggled, forgotten Florence Lawrence finally ended her life in 1038 with a lethal ingestion of ant paste?or did she?
Sixty years later, the fiercely competitive Sheelan twin brothers, Richard and Ben, discover a feisty, mysterious old lady named Flo Bridgewood telling tales of the McKinley assassination and the sinking of the Titanic. The twins share little more in common than identical features and a burning ambition to succeed. Muscular golden boy Richard is a gay journalist with too many credit cards and an unproduced screenplay in his drawer. Rebellious Ben is a notorious womanizer and independent filmmaker be his ticket to fame. Neither suspects that chance meeting is about to launch them into a mystery-shrouded journey that spans not just an entire century, but one woman's remarkable life - and supposed death.
But what of the girl they buried in 1938, whom the Beverly Hills Hospital identified as Florence Lawrence? What was Flo's connection to her death? The questions begin to mount. How - and why - did Flo stage her own death sixty years before? What other secrets does The Biograph Girl hold - and will her current turn in the spotlight end with the same kind of tragedy as the last?
The Biograph Girl is truly a chronicle of the 20th century - a sweeping epic packed with history, wisdom, humor, passion, and the golden age of movies.« less
A great telling of the story of a woman who has lives in three centuries. She was born in the last 1800's and was "discovered" by a film writer looking to interview some one who had lived that long and seen , lived the changes in America. From her start in vaudville to her retirement in an upstate New York nursing home, it was certainly a great ride. The book does jump from present to past but they tell you the year at the beginning of each chapter. I did not find it a problem but i know some people dislike that.
The birth of the film industry and the advent of the world's first film star, Florence Lawrence, the original "Biograph Girl," form the basis of this fictionalized account of one woman's life in a burgeoning industry that changed the parameters of entertainment. The real silent film actress Lawrence committed suicide in 1938 by drinking ant poison. In Mann's version, Lawrence, who was at the height of her fame in 1910, but by the late '30s had faded into oblivion, and a besotted physician-fan use the suicide of Lawrence's housemate as a ruse to allow Lawrence to disappear gracefully from an industry that no longer wants or cares about her. The fictional Lawrence not only goes on to have her own life, but lives to the ripe old age of 107.