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Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr (Anglais) Relié – 15 août 2008

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Book by Starr Michael Seth

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 59 commentaires
132 internautes sur 137 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Out of Proportion... 24 juin 2008
Par Hank Drake - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Raymond Burr was one of the most distinguished actors in television history. Although his early career was dominated by film work, he became identified with the small screen after playing the title character in Perry Mason. His work did much to bring credibility to a medium which was often seen as inferior to the silver screen.

Raymond Burr's homosexuality was an open secret in Hollywood when he died in 1993, and common knowledge shortly thereafter. There was no "scandal" when this information was revealed, mainly because Burr had led an honorable life which was marked by his generosity to those in need. That he was closeted while in a 35 year relationship with actor Robert Benevides is more a reflection on the era and the Hollywood mentality than on Burr himself. The author, Michael Seth Starr, does not seem interested in reflecting on those subjects, rather than the lengths to which Burr went to conceal his private life.

Starr seems obsessed with Burr's weight, arguably more than Burr or his fans ever were. Hardly a page goes by without mention of Burr's "corpulent girth" or "morbid" obesity. Not all gay men, closeted or otherwise, are body fascists, yet Starr's personal attitudes on the subject seem to pervade the book.

At times, the book is bogged down in irrelevant detail. Starr gives a blow-by-blow account of the plot of Rear Window and several other films. While it expands a slim book, it's not necessary. Really, what film fan, not to mention Burr fan, does not know the plot of Rear Window?

Since his death, Burr's many fans have wanted a definitive telling of his story. Hiding in Plain Sight isn't it.
70 internautes sur 73 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
good news, bad news 10 mai 2008
Par Curtis Jones - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Throughout an otherwise informative and well-written book, Starr keeps hammering home two points over and over. He was gay: we get it. He was fat: we get it. Thanks to the tabloids and my own eyes, I already knew he was gay and fat. I'm over it.

Still, the book is interesting due to well-researched info about his workaholic acting schedule (before, during and after the Perry Mason years), and his tireless generosity toward his fans and overseas troops. For whatever faults one might find, Mr. Burr is a man I wish I had known.

Starr has chosen a good subject for a bio, and spent considerable time on it; but the excessive mentions of Burr's sexual preference, fabricated life story and girth really needed a good editor. The repetition became tiresome.

Plus a few minor factual errors take away from the author's credibility. For example, Andy Griffith's "Matlock" series never aired on CBS.
38 internautes sur 41 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
He's Still Hiding 26 juillet 2008
Par Douglas Doepke - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This is a workman-like account of Burr's life and career. Unfortunately, author Michael Starr relies almost exclusively on second-hand sources for his text-- newspapers, magazines, and other print material. There are few first-hand sources which could relate all-important private aspects of the celebrity's life and career. Thus what emerges is largely a portrait of the public man-- the beloved figure of television melodrama-- instead of the carefully guarded private one.

There is, however, one highly significant exception to this public account. Starr makes no bones about Burr's secret life as a gay man during the homophobic decades in which he became a revered public figure. Nor does Starr soft-peddle the many cover stories Burr concocted to hide his sexual orientation. This is the book's main virtue and should lay to rest the many stories and confusions about this controversial phase of the actor's personal life.

However, as a result of Starr's reliance on secondary sources, we can only guess at Burr's private emotions during the key Perry Mason period. For better or worse, his character came to stand for the American criminal justice system to much of the public. Yet the man himself could have been arrested in many parts of the country as a "deviate". The anxiety must have been difficult at times. Too bad author Starr could not give us an inside glimpse of a period when great success also meant great apprehension. Perhaps, by Ironside's more tolerant era, Burr could have "outed" himself without too great of a career risk. But likely the cover story of dead wives and child had become too embedded to undercut. Anyway, these fictitious stories continued to define the private man in the public's eye right up to the end.

Also, the book doesn't provide much of a handle on the actor's behind-the-scenes personality. We do get glimpses, but mainly we have to read between the lines to get anything like a life-size portrait. Perhaps, his friends and co-workers were unavailable for the kind of interview that would provide revealing anecdotes. Whatever the reason, there's a noticeable absence of detail. Starr's style is easy and readable, but he's also not above padding the text with synopses of key films in the actor's career. Just what the significance of these to the man himself escapes me. I wish the author had discussed his sources more forthrightly in a Foreward, which could have shed some light on important aspects of the narrative that follows. The absence of an informative Foreward, standard to this kind of biographical work, amounts to another significant defect. Thus, aside from tackling the most controversial aspect of the revered actor's life, the book stands as a considerable disappointment.
31 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Burr Deserved Better 7 mai 2009
Par Joshua Irving Gershick - Publié sur
Popular character actor Raymond Burr, who played a series of menacing heavies in Noir thrillers of the 40s & 50s and finally hit paydirt playing the title role in the long-running TV series "Perry Mason," is given short shrift in this thin, poorly researched and shabbily written bio.

Author Michael Seth Starr clearly has no shame: He has done hardly any spade work at all. The quotes he derived from quickie interviews are repetitive and unremarkable. There is no analysis, nor any kind of contemplation in this cheap tome.

The material on Burr and others is out there but requires some thinking and digging. Instead, Starr focuses obsessively on two things: the actor's fluctuating weight; and a made up Hollywood bio that concealed Burr's homosexuality - an open secret in filmland.

Newsflash: actors and others in the day (and today!) had beards and lied about their sexual identity. That could have been a launching pad for an exploration of that phenomenon during the classic era - but alas, that certainly would have required work.

If you must read this silly, pitiful book, borrow it from the library. It will disappoint. In fact, the only thing good about the book is the jacket photo of Burr.

Raymond Burr was a talented actor who made it look easy. He deserved better. He deserved a real bio. This book is utterly without merit.
19 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Why Does Starr Hate Burr? 5 août 2008
Par R. Burnett - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Michael Seth Starr's bio of Raymond Burr offers nothing new. Starr recounts well-known and better-told episodes from Burr's life with an almost snarling tone. Starr mercilessly criticizes Burr's weight, his perfectionism, his closeted life, and his oft-repeated stories used to cover his homosexuality. Not only are Starr's parenthetical asides and editorializing in bad taste, they ensure that his mediocre account will turn off any reader with the slightest fondness for his subject.
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