The first major biography of the iconic actor Henry Fonda - a story of stardom, manhood, and the American character...
Henry Fonda’s performances - in The Grapes of Wrath, Young Mr. Lincoln, The Lady Eve, 12 Angry Men, On Golden Pond - helped define "American" in the 20th century. He worked with movie masters from Ford and Sturges to Hitchcock and Leone. He was a Broadway legend. He fought in World War II and was loved the world over. Yet much of his life was rage and struggle. Why did Fonda marry five times - tempestuously to actress Margaret Sullavan, tragically to heiress Frances Brokaw, mother of Jane and Peter? Was he a man of integrity, worthy of the heroes he played, or the harsh father his children describe, the iceman who went onstage hours after his wife killed herself? Why did suicide shadow his life and art? What memories troubled him so?
McKinney’s Fonda is dark, complex, fascinating, and a product of glamour and acclaim, early losses, and Midwestern demons - a man haunted by what he’d seen and who he was.
Devin McKinney, author of Magic Circles: The Beatles in Dream and History, has written for the Village Voice, Oxford American, Guardian, American Prospect, and Film Quarterly. He lives in central Pennsylvania.
"How many different ways can I mean to call this book essential? The sentences, in honor of their subject, threaten to explode with implication and insight." (Jonathan Lethem, New York Times best-selling and National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author
"The story of a great American actor whose art was burnished by an anguished life…In rich, lyrical prose, McKinney deftly honors both the man and the mystery." (Kirkus Reviews)
"McKinney makes it clear that Henry Fonda didn’t just see ghosts - he wanted to tackle them, both to exorcise his own demons and to possess them, while portraying characters representative of America: magnificent, but flawed. You might actually start to believe you’re getting to know a man who was, even to those closest to him, unknowable." (Robert Nott, author of He Ran All the Way: The Life of John Garfield and The Films of Randolph Scott)
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