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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 12/11/2006

Celebritology Holiday Guide: Stars By the Book

By Liz Kelly

Have someone on your holiday gift list who won't sit still for "Access Hollywood" or the "E! True Hollywood Story" but is spellbound by "Inside the Actors Studio," hanging on James Lipton's every well-chosen bon mot? I know the type: the closet celebritologist -- scoffing at your Us Weekly subscription, while surprisingly well-versed in the latest starlet scandals. So sad.

This holiday season indulge their "academic" interest in celebrity with one of the following books, sure to win approval from even the most tabloid-averse entertainment buff.

(Courtesy Melcher Media)

The Pop-Up Book of Celebrity Meltdowns
By Heather Havrilesky, Bruce Foster and Mick Coulas
From the Publisher: "...puts you front and center as ten of the most spectacular public crack-ups of our day unfold before your eyes... Open the page to trigger a wardrobe malfunction and watch as Janet Jackson bares all at the Super Bowl... Pull the tab and see Tom Cruise leap up on Oprah's couch like an excited puppy."
Verdict: It's low culture reborn as pop art. See, it's okay because it's ironic.

Lessons in Becoming Myself
By Ellen Burstyn
From the Publisher: "But this book is much more than a recitation of Burstyn's acting triumphs. It's a frank and unsparing account of her search for personal and professional authenticity and the consequences of that struggle. Burstyn's efforts as an actor to uncover the enduring truths in each of her roles, which she learned from Lee Strasberg at the renowned Actors Studio, inform her life offstage as well."
The Verdict: The consistently interesting Burstyn ("The Exorcist," "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," "Requiem for a Dream") promises a poignant story. reviewers agree -- The book has a five-star rating.

Mae West: It Ain't No Sin
By Simon Louvish
From the Publisher: "...brings Mae to vibrant life in this unparalleled new biography ... charts her amazing seven decades in show business, from early years in teenage summer stock to her last reincarnation as 1960s gay icon and grande dame of Hollywood survivors."
Verdict: Essential trivia, for instance, Hollywood's first sexpot also penned 12 plays, eight screenplays and three novels and was almost 40 when she made her first film.

Joan Crawford: Hollywood Martyr
By David Bret
From the Publisher: "In the first biography of Joan Crawford to give the full, uncensored story, bestselling author David Bret tells Crawford's rags to riches climb, from working in a Kansas City laundry to collecting an Oscar for her defining role in Mildred Pierce, and on to her devotion to Christian Science and reliance on vodka."
The Verdict: Completing the trifecta of actress bios, another "shocking" look at the earlier years of "Mommie Dearest" herself (wire hangers not included).

Black Comedians on Black Comedy
By Darryl J. Littleton
From the Publisher: "...traces the history and evolution through the 121 interviews conducted with some of the top African-American comedians in the world. Fables and myths are clarified, facts unraveled, and good times are nonstop as the makers of comedy history put that history in their own words."
Verdict: Could this thoughtful title -- full of interviews with Eddie Murphy, Cedric the Entertainer, Bernie Mac, Damon Wayans, Arsenio Hall, Chris Rock -- be any more timely?

When Illness Goes Public: Celebrity Patients and How We Look at Medicine
By Barron H. Lerner
From the Publisher: "In When Illness Goes Public, Barron H. Lerner describes the evolution of celebrities' illnesses from private matters to stories of great public interest. Famous people who have become symbols of illness include Lou Gehrig, the first 'celebrity patient'; Rita Hayworth, whose Alzheimer disease went undiagnosed for years; and Arthur Ashe, who courageously went public with his AIDS diagnosis before the media could reveal his secret."
Verdict: For the socially-conscience celebritologist on your list, an interesting look at how stars shape our awareness and activism.

It's Okay to Miss the Bed on the First Jump: And Other Life Lessons I Learned from Dogs
By John O'Hurley
From the publisher: "Dogs, after all, have pure hearts, trusting natures, a zest for living, noble characters, and an ability to take things in stride," writes O'Hurley in the book's introduction. "They can be counted on, and are pleasant companions. They know what's important, always. How many humans do you know about which you could say the same?"
Verdict: Perhaps a copy for former "Seinfeld" cast mate Michael Richards wouldn't be unwelcome?

Pete Doherty: On the Edge
By Nathan Yates and Pete Samson
From the publisher: "The extravagance of Pete's raucous behaviour, his bohemian lifestyle in London squats and underground parties have captured the public imagination and caused a media storm."
The Verdict: We all know Doherty as Kate Moss's on-again/off-again drug-addled boyfriend, but what else is there to this guy? A pulpy unofficial British bio promises insight into this "troubled genius."

More Resources:
-- For pure entertainment value, read the Motley Fool's O.J. Shelved: Top 10 Other Celebrity Book Titles
-- Essential Celebritology Vacation Reads

By Liz Kelly  | December 11, 2006; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Holiday Guide  
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Next: Morning Mix: Britney Spears's New Man?


The celebrity meltdowns seems like tons of fun. I've got to redo my wish list.

Posted by: petal | December 11, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

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