Stern, Ellen. “Hirschfeld: The Biography”, Sarah Crichton, 2017)
The Definitive Biography
Al Hirschfeld was one of those people who seemed to know everyone. He actually also drew everyone in his famous caricatures that graced the pages of the New York Times. He began his career in the 1920s and continued drawing for seventy-five years. He was able to catch so much in caricatures that he drew of those in Hollywood, politics and his beloved Broadway Theater. This is the definitive biography of the man who lived in Paris, Moscow, and Bali, and in a pink New York townhouse and the names of his closest friends reads like a who’s who in the world of entertainment— S. J. Perelman, Brooks Atkinson, Carol Channing, Gloria Vanderbilt, Elia Kazan, William Saroyan and Marlene Dietrich. Hirschfeld played the piano, went to jazz clubs with Eugene O’Neill, and wrote a musical that bombed. He managed to drive until he was ninety-eight and always found a parking space. He was devoted to his craft and he worked every day, threw dinners twice a week, and hosted New Year’s Eve parties that became legendary. He had three wives, a formidable agent, and a daughter, Nina, the most famous little girl that no one knows (he planted her name in every picture he drew and finding it became a national pastime). He died in 2003 at ninety-nine and firmly believed that if one lived long enough, everything that could happen did. Ellen Stern has written a wonderful book that looks at the man and she bases what she says on interviews with the artist himself, his friends and wives, celebrity subjects, agent, daughter, and more. She was given access to personal correspondence, journals, home movies, and scrapbooks and has painted a picture of someone who was larger than life.