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Warren Beatty

A Private Man
Narrated by: Suzanne Finstad
Length: 24 hrs and 22 mins

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“Whatever you have read or heard about me through articles or gossip, forget it. I am nothing like that Warren Beatty. I am nothing like what you have read.” (Warren Beatty)

Warren Beatty guarded his privacy even before he became a movie star, when he burst onto the screen in 1961 as the earnestly handsome all-American boy in Splendor in the Grass. When he started acting, Beatty kept secret the fact that actress Shirley MacLaine, already a star, was his older sister. Over time, he has cultivated a mystique, giving few interviews and instructing others not to talk about him. Until now. 

Through years of groundbreaking research, lauded biographer Suzanne Finstad gained unprecedented access to Beatty's family, close friends, and film colleagues, including such luminaries in the arts and politics as Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Leslie Caron, Robert Towne, Mike Nichols, and Senators John McCain, George McGovern, and Gary Hart. Weaving hundreds of these candid interviews, photographs from private albums, personal letters, diaries, and the previously unpublished papers of the late Natalie Wood and mentors such as directors Elia Kazan and George Stevens, playwrights Clifford Odets and William Inge, and agent Charles Feldman, Warren Beatty unveils the real Beatty, a complex, sensitive visionary torn between the "fairly puritanical, football-playing boy" from Virginia and his Hollywood playboy image. 

Finstad paints a rich, fascinating portrait of the secretive film legend, taking us back to the “unrealized genius” parents who molded arguably the most famous brother and sister in Hollywood history, tracing the family influences and events in Beatty’s past that directly inspired McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait, Reds, Ishtar, Dick Tracy, Bugsy, Love Affair, and Bulworth and led to his political activism, culminating in a near-bid for the White House. Finstad constructs the definitive, myth-shattering account of Beatty’s evolution from Hollywood’s enfant terrible to producer of the revolutionary Bonnie and Clyde, launching him as the premier actor/director/writer/producer of his generation, the only person to twice earn Oscar nominations in all five major categories. 

Here also is the truth about Beatty the lover, setting the record straight on his storied relationships with iconic actresses and beauties. Finstad’s astute insights illuminate Beatty’s private struggle to attain happiness, his complicated bond with his sister, Shirley, and the deeper reasons why, at 54, the archetypal bachelor married actress Annette Bening. 

Stunningly researched, engrossing, and exquisitely detailed, Warren Beatty: A Private Man gives us a new understanding of the enigmatic, fiercely intelligent star who embodies the American dream. 

©2005 Suzanne Finstad, Inc. (P)2005 Books on Tape

Critic reviews

"Compelling . . . Finstad's admiring portrait of the actor is rooted in his childhood . . . and the background was especially remarkable . . . because it also produced Beatty's talented and fascinating sister Shirley MacLaine. . . Beatty's life has something to teach people about eluding fame's snares." (Deirdre Donahue, USA Today)

"One of the six must-reads for fall . . . you must read it because this is the first serious biography of the enigmatic actor-writer-producer-director and legendary lover boy, and it provides a detailed look into the conservative Southern childhood that shaped and motivated him." (Cox News Service)

"For nearly 600 pages of interesting and thoughtful prose, Finstad follows Beatty as he slaloms, sometimes graciously, sometimes like Niccolo Macchiavelli, through one of civilization's most treacherous proving grounds, the movie business." (David Gilmour, Toronto Star

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 12-09-08

slow, dry read

Spent 2 credits on this purchase and I'm just about finished listening. Interesting person (Beatty) but the narration is flat and makes the same points over and over again. I'm 14 hours into the book and he's just finished Bonnie & Clyde. Well researched with tons of detail but the pace is s-l-o-w.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anna M. Kauffman
  • 07-08-15

of all people......

What did you like best about this story?

I bought this book because I had nothing interesting to read...and thought it would be fun to spend some time in Hollywood in the 1960's/1970's..boy was I ever surprised...I started noticing Warren when he was on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis...he was a standout even then...but all the negative publicity written about him in his early career put me off and I never cared much for him....and then of all people I thought I could never like was Warren but this book shows he is not just smart and a true talent but just the nicest man..i enjoyed every moment I spend with Warren...and now that I have finished the book I miss him....

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • K
  • 04-11-13

A Decent Story - Badly Presented

What disappointed you about Warren Beatty?

I was excited to hear the story; Beatty is an interesting guy. The narration put me off. I kept coming back, but it was so bad I ended up deleting without finishing.

What did you like best about this story?

As I'd hoped, the story is good. Beatty led a very interesting life. He's just whack enough to keep your attention.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Suzanne Finstad?

Someone. Anyone that has a bit of acting ability and life in their voice. She wrote a good book, so I suppose she figured she could do well with the recording. But like many songwriters that think they can sing ... not a good idea. It was monotone and monotonous. Almost like a kid reciting in class ... if I didn't know she'd written it, I would have said she had never heard of Warren Beatty.

What character would you cut from Warren Beatty?

The book is well-written, and all the characters are covered properly.