Wallach has the right and the title to discourse at length on method acting and the Actor's Studio, where he was a charter member, but instead hews tightly to his book's subtitle. A string of often funny and charming memories of his interactions with fellow actors and eclectic directors (in particular, spaghetti Western director Sergio Leone), his book is engagingly frank and personable. Because Wallach, known for his work in Tennessee Williams's Broadway productions as well as for his roles as memorably suspicious rascals, was taught by such cultural icons as Martha Graham and Lee Strasberg, his memoir is also a valuable source on 20th-century American culture. The author, however, is a cultural treasure in his own right: born Jewish in 1915 in an Italian section of Brooklyn, he headed off for the University of Texas at Austin during the Great Depression on a ship and became a medic overseas in WWII. From early struggles with auditions and bouts of hubris onstage, Wallach emerged to become one of America's most prolific, restlessly inventive and enduring actors (at 88, he took an uncredited role in 2003's Mystic River as Mr. Loonie, the liquor store owner). His insights and recollections of the acting life outweigh the book's pat and perfunctory conclusion. 8-page b&w photo insert not seen by PW. Agent, Marly Rusoff & Associates. (May)
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This memoir by one of Hollywood's quieter stars adopts the tone of a what-I-did-on-my-summer-vacation paper--except that Wallach's summer encompasses his nearly 90-year life. In a straightforward and witty style, he tells his story, from a Brooklyn childhood as the only Jew in an Italian neighborhood, through Actors Studio days with Brando and others, and on to his long and illustrious career on both stage and screen. The anecdotes come one after the other, about actors and roles but also about his personal life, including his more than 50-year marriage to fellow actor Anne Jackson. Most fascinating is the story of how Wallach was forced to choose between taking a role in the Tennessee Williams play Camino Real on Broadway, directed by the legendary Elia Kazan, or playing Maggio (the Frank Sinatra role) in From Here to Eternity). Wallach's love of theater drove him to Kazan, despite the director's having recently named names to the House Un-American Activities Committee. While many readers will associate Wallach with his roles in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and The Magnificent Seven, this compelling memoir shows the full range of a remarkable actor's life. Mary Frances Wilkens
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