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Lessons in Becoming Myself


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About the Author

Ellen Burstyn's career has encompassed more than forty years on stage, in film, and on television. She's been nominated six times for an Academy Award, winning the Best Actress Oscar in 1974 for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, as well as a Tony for her performance in Same Time, Next Year. She continues to serve as copresident of the Actors Studio in New York City.


Burstyn's autobiography resembles a Hollywood film, complete with an abusive, self-centered mother, sexual predator father, and failed marriages. The Oscar and Tony Award winner reflects on her life and career here, exposing all the pain and difficulty as she moves toward spiritual and creative fulfillment. Born Edna Rae Gillooly, she left home at 18, first working as a model in Detroit and then taking a bus to Manhattan to try for a career in acting. After some lean times, she eventually met acting guru Lee Strasberg and became a student of his method acting, a technique that helped propel her into prominence. She distinguished herself in such films as The Last Picture Show, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, and Same Time Next Year, in a role she also played on Broadway. Despite her professional success, Burstyn struggled with personal relationships; she married Neil Burstyn, a psychotic who stalked and threatened her even after they were divorced. Of primary interest, though, is Burstyn's ability to persevere against difficult odds and learn from her mistakes as she strives for knowledge and spiritual meaning. At times the abridgment makes for some abrupt and confusing content shifts, but overall the book is an enjoyable mix of insider film talk and New Age ideas. Burstyn reads in a pleasant though clearly mature voice, providing a convincing touch of reality. Recommended for large collections.-Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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