By Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Critics On The Aisle™
“Hello Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand” by bestselling author, biographer, journalist and film historian William J. Mann is as much of a page-turner as a riveting novel. It’s the result of Mann’s masterful story-telling talent and his meticulous research that marks his biographies as definitive in every case.
Mann was born and grew up in Middletown, Connecticut where he earned his master’s degree in English at Wesleyan University. He then worked as a freelance journalist and editor on his way to becoming a best-selling writer of non-fiction and fiction. He credits another Connecticut-born best-selling author, Dominick Dunne, as one of the several mentors who helped him along the way to success.
Mann is always an approachable and down-to-earth guy, as we know from previous interviews, he quickly responded to our questions about the reaction to his Streisand biography saying, “The response has been really great. Unanimously positive reviews. We even made the ‘New York Times’ bestseller list. It’s been very gratifying.”
We knew that the popular gossip columnist for the “Huffington Post,” Liz Smith, raved about Mann’s biography of Streisand more than once and those comments spread like wild fire across the country. We asked him about this invaluable help from The Grand Dame of Dish. He said, “Liz Smith is a huge fan of the book and I’m a huge fan of hers. So grateful for her support and the support of everyone.”
Mann added that “What’s especially rewarding is that the Barbra fans really love the book–and they are a tough group to please. They know what’s been said before, what’s new, and what is fair. And from the comments I’ve been getting and the comments posted on Amazon, the fans give the book high marks. So that’s really terrific.”
“Hello Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand” is one of our favorite reads this year. We highly recommend it to everyone who loves a book that you just can’t put down. We’re not the only ones who feel that way about Mann’s latest blockbuster. The New York Times” book review says it’s “a novelized biography notable for its breadth of detail and fair-mindedness. At his best, Mann vividly evokes the atmosphere of Streisand’s New York.”
The biography also made the “Publishers Weekly” Top Ten Bestseller list. The publication said of Mann, “The best-selling biographer of Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor tells the electrifying story of how Barbra Streisand transformed herself into the greatest star of her era, etching ‘an indelible portrait of the artist as a young woman.”
And the prestigious “Kirkus Reviews” calls it a “surprisingly suspenseful and masterfully paced biography. Mann structures the book by seasons, further dividing these into a series of vignettes that read like scenes from a novel peopled with extraordinary characters. The Barbra legend, it seems, is a scary thing to live up to — making “Hello, Gorgeous” a cautionary tale about the high cost of getting what you wish for.”
Film producer and contributing “Huffington Post” writer, Jay Weston, says. “After reading William J. Mann’s new biography, “Hello, Gorgeous — Becoming Barbra Streisand” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), I realized that I knew almost nothing of the inner events of those early years except what I had personally observed and read. Mann, the author of “Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn,” and a work on Elizabeth Taylor, has done a remarkable job of exhuming every single detail (yes, every one) of the years from the winter of 1960 to the spring of 1964, from when the frail young 17-year old girl (with teen-age acne) came from working at a Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn to sleeping on friends’ couches in Manhattan while auditioning for acting jobs, to reaching the pinnacle of fame and success four years later with the opening of “Funny Girl.”
Just when you thought you had heard or read everything about any of the famous subjects of Mann’s other bestsellers, you’ll quickly discover that he digs deeper and supplies more documentation than all previous biographers.
The 592-page Streisand biography was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is available online and in bookstores. For more information about William J. Mann, including all his acclaimed biographies, film histories and popular fiction, go to www.williamjmann.com.