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American Legends: The Life of Jack Palance

Narrated by: John McBride
Length: 1 hr and 11 mins

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"One of the most important reasons for living is to do something - live outside of yourself and put together an idea, an idea that you want to explore and then complete.... Awaken your creative sensitivities!" - Jack Palance

A lot of time has been spent covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' American Legends series, listeners can get caught up on the lives of America's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute. And they can do so while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.

It is quite possible that Jack Palance is best-remembered not for any single performance but rather for his display of physical fitness while receiving an Oscar for his performance in City Slickers (1989). In an effort to demonstrate that old age had not blunted his athleticism, Palance performed one-armed pushups while grasping his Oscar trophy with his free hand. His fitness was hardly a false representation either, as it demonstrated just how much he had been gifted with a strong physique. It was a crucial part of his image in the industry. Equally important, however, Palance's one-armed pushups demonstrated the way in which he frequently poked fun at himself, proving he did not take himself overly seriously.

The life and career of Jack Palance reveals the essence of the man with greater clarity. Palance's childhood played an inestimable role in shaping his values, and he always maintained properties in Pennsylvania where he grew up. Ironically, the connection felt to his roots was countered by the tortuous turns that characterized his career trajectory, which may be one of the most unusual of all time.

©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors

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Profile Image for Charles McKibben
  • Charles McKibben
  • 29-05-15


Would you listen to American Legends: The Life of Jack Palance again? Why?

I enjoyed this audiobook thoroughly, my only objection being that I would have liked to hear more quotes from Palance. The narrator really captured the actor's famous voice perfectly, bringing him to life. Palance was a fascinating American success story, coming from a hard scrabble Pennsylvania background. Escaping a life that could have been spent in a coal mine, he became a Division 1 football player, prizefighter, and most unlikely movie star.

What did you like best about this story?

You come away from this reading with respect for the man, who retained his parents' working class values. The enthusiasm that the narrator brings to his reading, mirrors the enthusiasm and intensity that Jack Palance brought to all of his roles. Like listening to Robert Osborne on TCM, talking about the great stars of the past, listening to this narrator talking about Palance is like taking a guided tour through a fascinating life.

Have you listened to any of John McBride’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

A friend of mine had purchased "I Miss My Daddy," and found both the story and John McBride's delivery as narrator to be incredibly comforting. Based on that, I went online to find other readings by this narrator.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The structure of this audiobook makes it easy to listen all the way through, or to revisit any specific sections whenever you like. Great for traveling on your daily commute or on a summer vacation. A great "beach" listen.

Any additional comments?

If you only know Jack Palance from his one-armed pushups on the Academy Awards, you've missed out on a fascinating life story..."Believe It or Not!"