Read Act One: An Autobiography by Moss Hart Free Online
Book Title: Act One: An Autobiography|
Date of issue: September 1959
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
The author of the book: Moss Hart
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 872 KB
Edition: Random House
Read full description of the books Act One: An Autobiography:Moss Hart was in the thick of American theater when everyone wore black tie on opening night and the world's most witty people entertained each other around a grand piano at late-night supper parties. It's an era of glamour that will never come again, but we have Hart's words on paper, and that is no small thing. A renowned director and theatrical collaborator, the brilliant Hart died too soon after the curtain went up on Act Two. If you want to know what it was like to be on the inside track in NYC in the '30s, '40s and '50s, here's a good place to find out.
Read information about the authorMoss Hart was an American playwright and director of plays and musical theater. Hart recalled his youth, early career and rise to fame in his autobiography, Act One, adapted to film in 1963, with George Hamilton portraying Hart.
Hart grew up at 74 East 105th Street in Manhattan, "a neighborhood not of carriages and hansom cabs, but of dray wagons, pushcarts, and immigrants" (Bach 1). Early on he had a strong relationship with his Aunt Kate, whom he later lost contact with because of a falling out between her and his parents, and her weakening mental state. She got him interested in the theater and took him to see performances often. Hart even went so far as to create an "alternate ending" to her life in his book Act One. He writes that she died while he was working on out-of-town tryouts for The Beloved Bandit. Later, Kate became quite eccentric, vandalizing Hart's home, writing threatening letters and setting fires backstage during rehearsals for Jubilee. But his relationship with Kate was life-forming. He understood that the theater made possible "the art of being somebody else… not a scrawny boy with bad teeth, a funny name… and a mother who was a distant drudge." (Bach 13).
After working several years as a director of amateur theatrical groups and an entertainment director at summer resorts, he scored his first Broadway hit with Once In A Lifetime (1930), a farce about the arrival of the sound era in Hollywood. The play was written in collaboration with Broadway veteran George S. Kaufman, who regularly wrote with others, notably Marc Connelly and Edna Ferber. (Kaufman also performed in the play's original Broadway cast in the role of a frustrated playwright hired by Hollywood.) During the next decade, Kaufman and Hart teamed on a string of successes, including You Can't Take It With You (1936) and The Man Who Came to Dinner (1939). Though Kaufman had hits with others, Hart is generally conceded to be his most important collaborator.
You Can't Take It With You, the story of an eccentric family and how they live during the Depression, won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for drama. It is Hart's most-revived play. When director Frank Capra and writer Robert Riskin adapted it for the screen in 1938, the film won the Best Picture Oscar and Capra won for Best Director.
The Man Who Came To Dinner is about the caustic Sheridan Whiteside who, after injuring himself slipping on ice, must stay in a Midwestern family's house. The character was based on Kaufman and Hart's friend, critic Alexander Woollcott. Other characters in the play are based on Noel Coward, Harpo Marx and Gertrude Lawrence.
After George Washington Slept Here (1940), Kaufman and Hart called it quits. Hart had decided it was time to move on. Throughout the 1930s, Hart also worked, with and without Kaufman, on several musicals and revues, including Face the Music (1932), As Thousands Cheer (1933), with songs by Irving Berlin, Jubilee (musical) (1935), with songs by Cole Porter and I'd Rather Be Right (1937), with songs by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. (Lorenz Hart and Moss Hart were not related.)
Hart continued to write plays after parting with Kaufman, such as Christopher Blake (1946) and Light Up The Sky (1948), as well as the book for the musical Lady In The Dark (1941), with songs by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin. However, he became best known during this period as a director.
Among the Broadway hits he staged were Junior Miss (1941), Dear Ruth (1944) and Anniversary Waltz (1954). By far his biggest hit was the musical My Fair Lady (1956), adapted from George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. The show ran over seven years and won a Tony Award for Best Musical. Hart picked up the Tony for Best Director.
Occasionally, Hart wrote scree
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