Notes on a Cowardly Lion: The Biography of Bert Lahr, With a New Preface by the Author

Notes on a Cowardly Lion The Biography of Bert Lahr With a New Preface by the Author With a New Preface by the AuthorFirst published in Notes on a Cowardly Lion has established itself as one of the best ever show business biographies Drawing on his father s recollections and on

  • Title: Notes on a Cowardly Lion: The Biography of Bert Lahr, With a New Preface by the Author
  • Author: John Lahr
  • ISBN: 9780520223042
  • Page: 204
  • Format: Paperback
  • With a New Preface by the AuthorFirst published in 1969, Notes on a Cowardly Lion has established itself as one of the best ever show business biographies Drawing on his father s recollections and on the memories of those who worked with him, John Lahr brilliantly examines the history of modern American show business through the long and glorious career of his father theWith a New Preface by the AuthorFirst published in 1969, Notes on a Cowardly Lion has established itself as one of the best ever show business biographies Drawing on his father s recollections and on the memories of those who worked with him, John Lahr brilliantly examines the history of modern American show business through the long and glorious career of his father the raucous low comic star of burlesque, vaudeville, the Broadway revue and musical, Hollywood movies, and the legitimate stage Here in rich detail is Lahr evolving from low dialect comic to Ziegfeld Follies sophisticate, hamming it up with the Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman on the set of The Wizard of Oz, and debuting Samuel Beckett s Waiting for Godot in America, which Kenneth Tynan called one of the most noble performances I have ever seen In the examination of Bert Lahr s chronic insecurity and self absorption, the breakdown of his first marriage, and the affectionate arm s length he kept between himself and his adoring second family, John Lahr s book also brings the reader closer than any other theater biography to the private torment of a great funny man This edition of the book includes the award winning essay The Lion and Me, John Lahr s intimate reflections on family life with his distant, brooding, but lovable father A first class stylist, John Lahr takes the reader beyond the magic of show business to a dazzling examination of how a performing self is constructed and staged before the paying customers Both as theater history and biography, Lahr s book is superb.

    One thought on “Notes on a Cowardly Lion: The Biography of Bert Lahr, With a New Preface by the Author”

    1. A copy of this book was provided free via Netgalley for the purpose of review.I was quite excited to read Notes on a Cowardly Lion, but unfortunately I found myself somewhat disappointed.Most people know Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion from the famous film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. In that role, his character is--as the name implies--not the most ferocious or intimidating of beasts. He's hilarious, really, and so I think I must have been expecting to see that reflected in this retelling of [...]

    2. This book surprised me. As a boomer who grew up watching Bert Lahr play the Cowardly Lion in 'The Wizard of Oz' (1939), I had no idea that the actor was a huge star on Broadway. Chronicled by his son, John, Lahr's career began in vaudeville and burlesque where he honed his skills. The younger Lahr was a theater critic and sometimes delved a little too deeply into the plays in which his father appeared. He did cover Lahr's first wife who had a history of serious mental illness, but the son they h [...]

    3. Interesting observations by the son of Bert Lahr. Enjoyed reading about the early days of his career, his first marriage, early years in HollywoodIt so often appears that comedians are not very "funny" in their lives off stage and/or out of the limelight - Bert Lahr was no exception.It was a good read but, not a "page turner".would only recommend this to someone who is a huge fan of Bert Lahr.

    4. Masterful son's ode to his fatherTook a very long time to finish this extraordinarily detailed view into a truly great actor. The author, Bert Lahr's son, has provided an intimate opening into a complex personality whose insistence on professionalism oftimes necessitated neglect of wife, children, friends. Despite his numerous successes, we see Bert as a truly vulnerable and sympathetic person. A book well worth the time no effort to finish!

    5. Really wanted to like this book as I loved the movie and Bert Lahr butI couldn't finish it. His son really tried to chronicle the life of his Father, a larger than life figure who struggled off stage. The jumping around in the writing made it impossible for me, seem like he was trying to make a novel in the midst of a biography.

    6. By Garry ArmstrongIt’s been more than a week since I finished reading the Bert Lahr biography, “Notes on a Cowardly Lion“, written by his son, John. I am still emotionally involved. Why?Why does a book written more than 40 years ago about a show business figure who peaked more than 70 years ago still sit front and center in my mind? I’m a retired TV and radio news reporter with more than 40 years in “the business”. The “news biz” is journalism, but it’s also performance, even f [...]

    7. It’s been a while since I finished reading the Bert Lahr biography, “Notes on a Cowardly Lion“, written by his son, John. I am still emotionally involved.Why does a book written more than 40 years ago about a show business figure who peaked more than 70 years ago still sit front and center in my mind? I’m a retired TV and radio news reporter with more than 40 years in “the business”. The “news biz” is journalism, but it’s also performance, even for those of us who strive for ob [...]

    8. Lahr, John. NOTES ON A COWARDLY LION: The Biography of Bert Lahr. (1969). ****. The author is Bert Lahr’s second son, the first from his second marriage, and tells the story of his father’s life in a very personal, but factual way. Lahr grew up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to struggling Jewish parents who were very close with their money. He dropped out of school early on to get a job and, hopefully, to get out of the house. Looking at the success of some of the other neighborhood kids i [...]

    9. I would give this book a 3.5. It was written by John Lahr, Bert Lahr's son. It took him six years to write the book about his dad. He interviewed many people who worked with and knew the actor. including Bert Lahr himself. This book originally came out in the late 1960s. I was glad to see the author reissued the book. As in any biography, it starts at Bert Lahr's birth in 1895 in New York, New York. It spans his whole life. Bert dropped out of school at 15 and started in show business, at first [...]

    10. I was eager to read this since I saw it in a comic store in their book bin section. I got the first edition of the paperback that came out in 1970. There are lots of laborious parts where the writer, son of Bert Lahr, goes into way too much detail about some of the broadway shows reviews and such, but if you stay with it it is really worth it. The writing gets better as it goes on. I particually liked the end where we sort of go on an outing with Bert to some of his old haunts around NY in 1967. [...]

    11. InsightfulIt was a heartfelt tribute from a son to his father. John Lahr's biography is not only a revelation to the reader but based on the narrative, it was the way John finally gained access to his father.With actors, there are the roles they play for the audience and the roles they play in their real lives. Lahr is revealed to be a sad, complex man behind the public personae.While his father was distant in many ways, John's love and respect shine through this "warts and all" biography of man [...]

    12. A nice theater history book, with a back drop of the life of Burt Lahr. A respectful, objective, loving memoir of a son. I was disappoint that the objectivity did not extent to completing the story of Lahr's 1st wife Mercedes and oldest son Herbert. I found on You Yube a 1956 "What's Mine Line" episode featuring Lahr. At the end of the show, the host asks him about his 3 children, and he claims only to have two. There is an obvious uncomfortable moment for him. In the book, it is mentioned that [...]

    13. This is Bert Lahr's biography by his son, John. Because Bert Lahr was so private, except on stage where he revealed so much of himself, we don't really get to know the man. We do learn about the changes in comedy through his lifetime as Lahr responded to changing tastes in comedy and theater. Lahr, worked from his gut. His son makes clear that Lahr did not overthink his craft or even the parts he played. He simply knew at a gut level what to do and then refined his performance based on audience [...]

    14. This was a DNF (did not finish) for me. I respect the effort of the son to chronicle the life of his Father, who to the public was a larger than life figure, at least for a little while. But the way the beginning of this book is written, with a scene between the aforesaid Father and son (Bert and John Lahr) was boring to me. I'm not really interested in John's insights, experiences or feelings. I just want facts that are well-written, interesting anecdotes and maybe something a little deeper. In [...]

    15. Great Biography Bert Lahr was a great entertainer , starring in burlesque, vaudeville and Broadway, not to mention his classic cowardly lion role in the Wizard of Oz. This book written by his son ,noted theater critic John Lahr, is a tribute by son to father and a history of show business during the first sixty years of the twentieth century. Having recently lost my father, I found this book particularly moving as the love John shows for his dad, who was a difficult dad to be sure, is evident th [...]

    16. I've long been a fan of show business biographies -- more so the performers from the first half of last century. "Notes on a Cowardly Lion" did not disappoint. Bert Lahr's accomplished career was an education to me. John Lahr's account through his father's eyes was entertaining if not a bit skewed (I'm sure) and at times overly informative. I continue with my amazement by the dichotomy of many great performer's personalities: star quality performances mixed with a lot of low self esteem and self [...]

    17. This has gotta be the best book ever written about the history of show business in America! From Second Avenue vaudeville, to "The Wizard of Oz" in Hollywood, to the groundbreaking theatrics of "Waiting For Godot," to the final money-maker: selling potato chips on TV commercials, Bert Lahr did it all! Well-written by his son John, with fascinating anecdotes about some of America's most important entertainment milestones. Funny, sad, and absolutely haunting.

    18. This was just a great book. Don't get distracted by the great coverage of the Wizard of Oz, it is really tempting to put the book down and find a great book on Oz. Also, make sure you have YouTube all fired up. There are great clips of Bert Lahr to accompany your reading and make this an interactive experience.

    19. While I would not have generally chosen this book, I did find it a good read. I do reccommend this book as I learned a lot about the person who played the cowardly lion. I was given an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. This book cover is on my Pinterest board and my blog, Michelle Dragalin’s Journey.

    20. John Lahr is one of the best theatre critics writing today. This biography on his father is an excellent and frank account of a complicated man and a particularly interesting time in American theatre/film history. A must grease paint and lime light crowd. Should be on your shelf right next to Moss Hart's Act One.

    21. 3.5Bert Lahr is one of my favorite personalities, so i was very excited to read this bio written by his son.John Lahr is able to recreate the "good old days" of entertainment for those of us who weren't even born during most of his father's career.

    22. A Son Writes About His FatherBert Lahr gained immortality with one role: The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard Of Oz. His son fills us in on the rest of career in film and, more importantly, on the stage.

    23. Wonderful biography, beautifully written, full of insightful details. Both a history of early-to-mid 20th century theater and a touching portrait of a surprisingly complex man.

    24. Best show-biz bio I've read, as well as a moving essay about a distant parent. Who's Bert Lahr? The Cowardly Lion in Oz, of course.

    25. Pretty interesting; not an easy read, but definitely an interesting life. Also obvious was his son's affection for him.

    26. In depth but it felt repetitive at some points. His most famous role (the lion) feels glossed over. Great perspective of one of last performers of his kind.

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