A compelling portrait of one of Hollywood’s most invincible women, the late Barbara Stanwyck. A most unusual movie star, Stanwyck was an actress of considerable and neglected talent who elevated every role she had, a woman whose personal life matched the rocky road of her career. Whispered to be among Hollywood’s scandalous “sewing circle,” a group of internationally famous actresses who hid their potentially career-ending lesbianism and bisexuality, Stanwyck kept her liaisons a secret. Despite her steely resolve and her image as a take-control kind of woman, Stanwyck suffered from turbulent marriages and relationships, including her sensational marriage to, and divorce from, the abusive Robert Taylor. Madsen provides a fresh look at this fascinating, complex screen goddess, offering provocative and shocking details from one of Hollywood’s most interesting lives.
Sonia Delaunay, wife of painter Robert Delaunay, and co-founder of the Orphist school in 1910, was the center of a brilliant circle in Paris. Madsen offers a rich and compelling look at this fascinating and influential woman, the first living female artist to have a retrospective show at the Louvre.
The ultimate Hollywood story revealed: the sizzling relationship between Joseph Kennedy, patriarch of America’s most influential political family, and Gloria Swanson, one of the most prominent silent film stars of her day. Gloria and Joe were in love with each other and with the movies, especially Queen Kelly, which completed the real-life ménage à trois. Starring along with the star of the screen and the Boston Brahman in this exposé are Erich von Stroheim, Kennedy’s wife Rose, Swanson’s husband, and a cast of colorful hangers-on. Madsen recreates their love, scandal, and world, which in its extravagance and intrigue has never been surpassed.
One of the most influential men of the twentieth century, Jacques Cousteau was an eco-emissary whose own life of derring-do brought him fame and the means to proselytize his cause. Ecologist, adventurer, celebrity, businessman—Cousteau was a brilliant and complex individual, and Madsen’s biography captures him in style. Madsen, who knew the Cousteau family for over two decades, interviewed Cousteau personally for this book.
A dual biography of the two most influential socio-political moralists of the twentieth century, whose lives were intertwined personally and intellectually for more than forty-six years. Madsen provides an engrossing view of the luminously transparent relationship that was unconventional yet faithful to its ideals.
One of the greatest art theft stories of the 20th century: André Malraux, French novelist, art theorist, and eventually France’s Minister of Cultural Affairs, and his wife, Clara, traveled to Cambodia in 1923, planning to steal and smuggle artifacts out of the country and sell them in America. The Cambodian treasure hunt promised to be a mix of cultural sleuthing for important antiquities and risk-taking on the fuzzy edge of the laws that governed historical sites. The jungle expedition ended in arrest and, for André, trial and conviction. But it also led to a second Asian venture: the launching of a Saigon newspaper, L’Indochine, dedicated to the aspirations of the indigenous population. Madsen follows the couple from this fateful adventure that so shaped their future to the end of their marriage, and after.
A fascinating look at the real Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, the designer who forever revolutionized the way women look. She was a free spirit, brilliant business woman, and beauty who never found reciprocated love. Madsen, with authority, delves into this fashion doyenne’s business and private lives to reveal one woman’s extraordinary progress: from orphan to millinery shopkeeper, from lodestar of feminine style to a very rich woman with a closet full of dark secrets.
Author of fourteen biographies, Axel Madsen chronicles the people who shaped the 20th century. In The Deal Maker, he sheds light on a man whose tireless optimism led to the formation of the first super-corporation. A charismatic salesman in the late 19th century, William Durant started a cart-building business after accepting an especially comfortable ride one day. By the time he turned forty, he was a millionaire wondering what to do with the rest of his life. When he was approached by retired plumber David Buick and a group of friends from his hometown of Flint, Michigan, Durant had only ridden in an automobile twice. His ensuing creation of General Motors essentially invented modern-day corporate America, gaining and losing him three fortunes in the process. Durant's story highlights the uneasy relationship between inventors and those who control the capital to exploit those inventions. Nelson Runger's narration takes listeners to a time when men like Durant, Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, and Pierre du Pont were making decisions that would shape America's future.