Burt Lancaster: An American Life

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Burt Lancaster is perhaps most widely remembered as the tough, iron-jawed star of films such as Gunfight at the OK Corral and Airport. But as this superbly readable and insightful biography demonstrates, he was an actor with much broader ambitions - brilliantly realised in Visconti's The Leopard - as well as the founder of the first actor-led production company in Hollywood. Lancaster's liberal political views led not only to frequent clashes with the House Un-American Activities Committee and a voluminous FBI file, but also a private life that was colourful even by Hollywood standards. Although a devoted father and husband (to three wives), the actor took numerous lovers - of both sexes. In his sexual tastes as in his choice of roles, he defied classification. Kate Buford's definitive biography offers a full, frank, sensitive and compelling portrait of the star of Atlantic City, From Here to Eternity and Elmer Gantry (for which he won a Best Actor Oscar). Lancaster emerges as a man of restless energy, relentless curiosity and continual development as an actor: a star every bit as interesting offscreen as on. As one American reviewer put it: 'Not many film stars receive first-class biographies; Burt Lancaster not only deserved one, he got one.' Acclaimed biographer Kate Buford has been a regular commentator on National Public Radio in the United States since 1994.