Alice Howell, Winnie Lightner biographies this year

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Harlowgold

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Alice Howell, Winnie Lightner biographies this year

PostTue May 31, 2016 6:14 pm

And not from Bearmanor Media - or McFarland!! Instead they are part of the University of Mississippi's "Hollywood Legends" series (both more than a bit of a stretch for inclusion IMO but happy to see they will be getting their due)


http://www.amazon.com/She-Could-Chaplin ... s%22+alice" target="_blank

http://www.amazon.com/Winnie-Lightner-T ... ks&sr=1-14" target="_blank"
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Jim Roots

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Re: Alice Howell, Winnie Lightner biographies this year

PostWed Jun 01, 2016 7:11 am

I've ordered the Howell book. Anthony Slide is a terrific writer, and it's heartening to know he's still going strong. What is he now, about 70 years old?

Jim
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Re: Alice Howell, Winnie Lightner biographies this year

PostThu Jun 09, 2016 5:03 am

Anthony Slide was born in Birmingham/UK on Nov 7 1944.
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Tommie Hicks

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Re: Alice Howell, Winnie Lightner biographies this year

PostThu Jun 09, 2016 7:57 am

Steve Massa has a book coming out entitled SLAPSTICK DIVAS. When the purchase link arrives I'll post it.

Its been a real great time the last couple of years for silent comedy books.
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Rollo Treadway

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Re: Alice Howell, Winnie Lightner biographies this year

PostThu Jun 09, 2016 9:00 am

Having become increasingly fascinated by Winnie in recent years, I'll be looking forward to the book.
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Re: Alice Howell, Winnie Lightner biographies this year

PostThu Jun 09, 2016 9:38 am

Rollo Treadway wrote:Having become increasingly fascinated by Winnie in recent years, I'll be looking forward to the book.


How fabulous is it that the author is also named Lightner and he's not a relation?
Fred
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Jim Roots

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Re: Alice Howell, Winnie Lightner biographies this year

PostMon Sep 12, 2016 4:35 pm

I’ve read Slide’s book now, and must report that it is rather disappointing.

It is being promoted as “the first book-length appreciation” of Alice Howell. That is stretching it. The actual biography is only 40 pages, which is not even novella length, let alone book length. It rehashes the little we know about Alice, which can be summed up in three sentences that Slide repeats again and again: (1) She was an energetic and talented comedian. (2) She didn’t really care about having a movie career. (3) She invested in real estate.

There is a 23-page Introduction that repeats almost everything in the bio that follows. The bio itself is followed by 8 pages (a total of 3 and a half of which are photos) which summarize the completely negligible career of Alice’s daughter, and very briefly touch on the much more impressive careers of George Stevens Sr and Jr.

Then comes an 18-page transcript of Slide’s interview with the daughter when the latter (and possibly the former, too) was clearly in her dotage at age 97; all of the points she makes have already appeared in either or both of the introduction and the biography.

Thirty pages of end papers complete this very slender 125-page volume.

The sloppiness, or laziness, of Slide’s “research” is typified by his paragraph about myself. He writes, “James Roots does not appear to have been aware of Steve Massa’s work (Lame Brains and Lunatics) when he published The 100 Greatest Silent Film Comedians in 2014.” All Slide had to do was turn to the bibliography in my book and there, on page 418, he would have found Massa’s book listed.

Slide continues, “What he would have thought of it, I don’t know.” Well, Mr. Slide, it would have been very easy to have found out, because in that same bibliographical entry I assess Steve’s book thusly: “An eminently desirable and necessary book.”

And then Slide bizarrely suggests that my opinion of Alice Howell would be dependent upon Steve Massa’s opinion of me: “I am sure he would not share Steve Massa’s enthusiasm for the lady. Of course, we don’t know what Steve Massa might have thought of James Roots.” (For the record, Steve has been extremely friendly and encouraging to me, for which I am grateful. I have returned the favour by referencing him in a positive way throughout my books, including the one Slide talks about.)

It’s not just my book, though: Slide purports to write about Howell’s career under Mack Sennett without a single reference to Brent Walker’s magisterial Mack Sennett’s Fun Factory, a brief perusal of which would have provided Slide with all the Sennett-era filmography of Howell that he needed. And Brent’s book was published in 2010, so it’s not as though it was published after Slide went to press.

Too bad that something that could have been so much more ended up being so much less.

Jim
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Re: Alice Howell, Winnie Lightner biographies this year

PostMon Sep 12, 2016 4:57 pm

I agree with Jim Roots. I wanted to love the Howell book as I do her, but there is not much to it.
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Re: Alice Howell, Winnie Lightner biographies this year

PostTue Sep 13, 2016 10:36 am

Hmm.. I've been looking forward to the new Slide book on Alice Howell, but with Jim's report that our names are bandied about I guess it's a "must read."

To be fair to Mr. Slide a few years he wrote an unpublished monograph on Alice - ALICE HOWELL: AN IMPERFECT HISTORY that I had access to and used as a source for LAME BRAINS AND LUNATICS (and listed it in the bibliography). Because he spent time with Alice's daughter Yvonne the piece was especially helpful in charting their family history, Alice's entry into show business, etc. I'm assuming that this new book is the monograph updated with added introductions, etc. My only quibble with the original monograph was that out of the blue Mr. Slide speculated that Ms. Howell may have had more than a professional relationship with her frequent director John G. Blystone. In my own years of research on Alice Howell I've never come across anything whatsoever that suggested anything of that nature.

That aside I've always had a great respect for Mr. Slide's work - he's one of the very first film historians to research and bring attention to silent comediennes such as Florence Turner, Billie Rhodes, Dorothy Devore, Babe London, and Alice Howell.
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Re: Alice Howell, Winnie Lightner biographies this year

PostTue Sep 13, 2016 11:50 am

Steve Massa wrote:Hmm.. I've been looking forward to the new Slide book on Alice Howell, but with Jim's report that our names are bandied about I guess it's a "must read."

To be fair to Mr. Slide a few years he wrote an unpublished monograph on Alice - ALICE HOWELL: AN IMPERFECT HISTORY that I had access to and used as a source for LAME BRAINS AND LUNATICS (and listed it in the bibliography). Because he spent time with Alice's daughter Yvonne the piece was especially helpful in charting their family history, Alice's entry into show business, etc. I'm assuming that this new book is the monograph updated with added introductions, etc. My only quibble with the original monograph was that out of the blue Mr. Slide speculated that Ms. Howell may have had more than a professional relationship with her frequent director John G. Blystone. In my own years of research on Alice Howell I've never come across anything whatsoever that suggested anything of that nature.

That aside I've always had a great respect for Mr. Slide's work - he's one of the very first film historians to research and bring attention to silent comediennes such as Florence Turner, Billie Rhodes, Dorothy Devore, Babe London, and Alice Howell.


Hi Steve,

Yep, it's the "Imperfect History" very slightly updated and padded.

I mentioned at the start of this thread that I enjoy Slide's writing in general. I certainly learned a lot from his Encyclopedia of Vaudeville and, while he didn't actually "write" it himself, his Selected Vaudeville Criticism, and I liked the book reviews he wrote for Classic Images a long time ago. I liked his bitchy Silents Players so much, I got two copies of it. But this Howell book sure ain't much.

Jim

Jim
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Re: Alice Howell, Winnie Lightner biographies this year

PostTue Sep 13, 2016 12:59 pm

I was honored to have been asked to review the draft manuscript of David Lightner's upcoming book on Winnie Lightner, and it is fantastic. A massive amount of material and lots of pictures (including some from me). Answers so many questions, especially Winnie's pre- and post- film life. A must have!
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Re: Alice Howell, Winnie Lightner biographies this year

PostFri Jun 23, 2017 11:25 am

"Winnie Lightner: Tomboy of the Talkies" by David L. Lightner is now readily available from Amazon and numerous other booksellers.
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Re: Alice Howell, Winnie Lightner biographies this year

PostFri Jun 23, 2017 8:01 pm

vitaphone wrote:I was honored to have been asked to review the draft manuscript of David Lightner's upcoming book on Winnie Lightner, and it is fantastic. A massive amount of material and lots of pictures (including some from me). Answers so many questions, especially Winnie's pre- and post- film life. A must have!


Wow! This will definitely be a MUST-BUY for me.

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