Cover image for The spectator : talk about movies and plays with the people who make them
The spectator : talk about movies and plays with the people who make them
Terkel, Studs, 1912-2008.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New Press : Distributed by W.W. Norton & Co., [1999]

Physical Description:
xv, 364 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
PN1583 .T39 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PN1583 .T39 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The Studs Terkel Interviews: Film and Theater collects the Pulitzer Prize-winning oral historian's remarkable conversations with some of the greatest luminaries of film and theater. Originally published under the title The Spectator , this "knowledgeable and perceptive" ( Library Journal ) look at show business presents the actors directors, playwrights, dancers, lyricists, and others who created the dramatic works of the twentieth century.

Among the many highlights in these pages, Buster Keaton explains the wonders of unscripted silent comedy, Federico Fellini reflects on honesty in art, Carol Channing reveals that she is far more serious than she lets on, and Marlon Brando turns the tables and wants to interview Terkel. We learn about crucial artistic decisions in the lives of Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and Edward Albee and hear from a range of film directors, from Vittorio De Sica and King Vidor to Satyajit Ray. We even get to witness Terkel playing straight man to a wildly inventive Zero Mostel. Because Terkel knows his subjects' work intimately, he asks precisely the right questions to elicit the most revealing responses. As the New York Times Book Review noted, "Terkel's knowledge and force of personality make him fully a player alongside his famous guests."

Author Notes

Studs Terkel was an actor, writer, and radio host. He was born Louis Terkel on May 16, 1912 in New York City. He took his name from the James T. Farrell novel, Studs Lonigan. Terkel attended the University of Chicago and graduated with a law degree in 1934.

Terkel acted in local stage productions and on radio dramas until he began one of the first television programs, an unscripted show called Studs Place in the early 1950s. In 1952, Terkel began Studs Terkel's Almanac on radio station WFMT in Chicago.

Terkel compiled a series of books based on oral histories that defined America in the 20th Century. Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do received a National Book Award nomination in 1975. The Good War: An Oral History of World War II won the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction in 1985. Working was turned into a hit musical in 1978. Terkel was named the Communicator of the Year by the University of Chicago in 1969. He also won a Peabody Award for excellence in journalism in 1980 and the National Book Foundation Medal for contributions to American letters in 1997. He died on October 31, 2008 at the age of 96.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

For 45 years, Terkel spent an hour each weekday on the radio, conversing with famous and not-so-famous guests and with a loyal audience of Chicago listeners. Most readers outside the Midwest are familiar with his unique style of oral history on serious subjects like race, war, and working, but local listeners know Studs started out as an actor, remains a bit of a ham, and is a particularly skilled interviewer on theater and film. The Spectator excerpts some 50 of his interviews: with actors (among them, Keaton, Channing, Bankhead, Le Gallienne, Cagney, Dietrich, Brando, Mastroianni, Signoret, Lenya, Hagen, Schwartzenegger, Hagen, Robards, and Mostel); authors (Miller, Williams, Hansberry, Baldwin, Wilson, Saroyan, Albee, Ionesco); directors (Vidor, de Sica, Truffaut, Fellini, Clair, Ray, Quintero); critics (Clurman, Kael, Cassidy, Tynan); and other entertainment figures, from composers Eubie Blake and Yip Harburg and choreographer Agnes DeMille to Moms Mabley and Ravi Shankar. Terkel has never been an "invisible" interviewer, and his persona is especially present here, celebrating his memories of classic performances by his guests, riffing on the special pleasures of a stage or film event that truly reaches its audience. Telling portraits of a wide range of artists in conversation with a passionately involved, prodigiously well prepared interlocutor. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

A collection of interviews with screen and stage actors, directors, playwrights and critics, Terkel's latest richly entertaining oral history is a departure from his bestselling interview books on weightier themes (Working; Hard Times; Race). Here, Terkel offers interviewsÄmany of them reading almost like monologues, Terkel says so littleÄfirst heard on the Chicago radio program he has hosted for the past 45 years. Many of the exchanges feel dated, and there is an awful lot of chitchat. Nevertheless, the book's cast of characters is stellarÄEdward Albee, Eugene Ionesco, Lillian Gish, Zero Mostel, Pauline Kael, Marlon Brando, Uta Hagen, Tallulah Bankhead and August Wilson, among othersÄand Terkel has a knack for pushing buttons, opening floodgates, capturing his subjects in illuminating moments. "I've always regarded myself as an incomplete person," says Tennessee Williams in a particularly revealing passage. "Consequently, I've always been interested in my kind of people: people that have to fight for their reason... people who come close to cracking." Arthur Miller explains how the nation has gone soft: "In the '30s, people, in order to believe they were real Americans, believed they were responsible for their own fate." We also get Agnes DeMille on choreographing Oklahoma, Ian McKellen on the modernness of Shakespeare, composer/ pianist Eubie Blake (who wrote the first all-black musical, Shuffle Along) on his parents' tribulations as slaves and Kenneth Tynan on British class prejudice. A disarming, invigorating look at show biz, this quirky book closes, on a fittingly eclectic note, with Burr Tillstrom, creator of the TV puppets on Kukla, Fran and OllieÄwhich he duly impersonates during the interview. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Terkel is best known as the prize-winning author of books of oral history (Working, The Good War). But for the last 45 years, on his nationally syndicated radio show, he has also interviewed notables of the stage and screen. These interviews are collected here for the first time. Not surprisingly, Terkel is a very good interviewer; these aren't fluff pieces. Over the years, he talked with playwrights Tennessee Williams, Lorraine Hansberry, Edward Albee, and August Wilson; performers Arnold Schwarzenegger, Buster Keaton, Carol Channing, and Ian McKellen; directors Federico Fellini, Jonathan Miller, and Jacques Tati; and composers Eubie Blake, E.Y. Harburg, and others. Since the pieces range over 45 years, a lot of the interviewees may be more familiar to an earlier generation. Knowledgeable and perceptive, this is highly recommended for large public libraries and theatrical collections.ÄMarianne Cawley, Charleston Cty. P.L., SC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Garry Wills
Introductionp. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Overturep. 1
Prologue: Morning, Noon, and Night (with Jack Kirkland)p. 17
Act 1

p. 25

1 Beginningsp. 27
In the Wings (with Francois Truffaut)p. 27
Buster Keatonp. 31
Lillian Gishp. 37
King Vidorp. 40
Vittorio De Sicap. 45
2 Say It with Musicp. 51
Eubie Blakep. 51
Agnes DeMillep. 55
Carol Channing (and Tallulah Bankhead)p. 65
3 Hard Timesp. 76
Arthur Millerp. 76
Eva Le Galliennep. 83
Hiram (Chub) Shermanp. 91
E. Y. (Yip) Harburgp. 94
Harold Clurmanp. 97
4 Chicago Boom-Boomp. 105
James Cagneyp. 105
5 Warp. 115
War Moviesp. 115
On Seeing The Deer Hunterp. 120
Pauline Kaelp. 125
6 O Deathp. 129
Lila Kedrovap. 130
Reflections on The Last Mile and Watch on the Rhinep. 131
John Randolph on Alfred Luntp. 132
7 Kindness of Strangersp. 136
Tennessee Williams (and Claudia Cassidy)p. 136
Geraldine Pagep. 148
Marlon Brandop. 151
Act 2p. 161
1 Ways of Seeingp. 163
Federico Fellini (and Marcello Mastroianni and Alain Cuny)p. 163
Rene Clairp. 167
Satyajit Ray (and Ravi Shankar)p. 171
2 Ways of Doingp. 178
Francoise Rosayp. 178
Ruth Gordonp. 186
Simone Signoretp. 191
3 Ways of Seeing IIp. 196
Ian McKellenp. 196
Jonathan Millerp. 200
4 A Touch of Shawp. 211
Sybil Thorndikep. 211
Robert Morleyp. 215
5 Bert and Sam: Brecht and Beckettp. 223
Kenneth Tynan (and Peter Hall)p. 223
Lotte Lenya (and Arnold Sundgaard)p. 233
Joan Littlewoodp. 239
Alan Schneiderp. 243
Gilbert Moses (and Joe Lattimore)p. 251
Rick Clucheyp. 255
E. G. Marshallp. 256
Act 3p. 259
1 Solo Flightp. 261
Ruth Draperp. 261
Emlyn Williamsp. 265
Hal Holbrookp. 271
2 Out of the Shadowsp. 276
Moms Mableyp. 276
Lorraine Hansberryp. 282
James Baldwinp. 287
August Wilson (and Clifford Burke)p. 288
3 Successp. 296
Arnold Schwarzeneggerp. 296
Uta Hagenp. 298
4 Winners and Losersp. 306
William Saroyan (and Bill Veeck)p. 306
Jose Quinterop. 311
Jose Quintero and Jason Robardsp. 314
E. G. Marshallp. 319
Edward Albeep. 320
5 The Clownsp. 332
Marcel Marceaup. 332
Jacques Tatip. 337
Zero Mostel (and Eugene Ionesco)p. 341
Epiloguep. 355
Burr Tillstromp. 357