Eva Le Gallienne

Eva Le Gallienne

A Biography

eBook - 1996
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We see Le Gallienne's childhood in London and Paris with her bohemian parents: her Danish mother, a feminist, journalist, and follower of Ibsen and Brandes; and her estranged father, the slightly successful but thoroughly selfish English poet and writer Richard Le Gallienne...her early years as an actor, her triumphs with Barrymore and Basil Rathbone, Joseph Schildkraut, Alla Nazimova, and others. We see the extraordinary women who were drawn to her work and supported it - among them Eleonora Sears, socialite and champion tennis, polo, and squash player; Alice De Lamar, philanthropist; and Mary Curtis Bok Zimbalist, heir to the Curtis Publishing Company. And we see the many women whom she chose to love openly and who loved her back. Using Le Gallienne's diaries, letters, and notes, and interviewing more than 150 of her friends, lovers, acquaintances, and family, Helen Sheehy has brought this complex artist brilliantly alive. Her book is a revelation of the actor's life and work.
She founded and supported noncommercial theatre companies throughout her life, among them the American Shakespeare Theatre and the American Repertory Theatre (which she cofounded with Cheryl Crawford and Le Gallienne's then lover, the brilliant director Margaret Webster).
She was taken up at nineteen by Ethel Barrymore, who saw in her a huge talent. At twenty-seven, after appearing in twenty productions, Le Gallienne left Broadway and, following her dream, found and restored a wreck of a building on New York's West Fourteenth Street and created the Civic Repertory Theatre (it became the model for off-Broadway) - putting into production, directing, and starring in as many as forty different plays, including The Three Sisters, The Master Builder, Hedda Gabler, The Cherry Orchard, Peter Pan, Romeo and Juliet, The Seagull, and Alice in Wonderland. After ten years, when she folded the company because of the depression, Le Gallienne returned to Broadway and starred in fifty other productions.
Eva Le Gallienne was a huge star on Broadway before she was twenty-one. She was inspired by the style and brilliance of the Divine Sarah, whom she first saw when she was seven. She was transformed by the incomparable Eleonora Duse, whose denial of self in search of inner truth led Le Gallienne, through years of their intense friendship, to her own emergence as one of the great natural actors of the age.
Publisher: New York : Knopf, c1996
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: 529 p. : ill. ; 25 cm

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