Hotchner, A(aron) E(dward) 1920-
HOTCHNER, A(aron) E(dward) 1920-
PERSONAL: Born June 28, 1920, in St. Louis, MO; son of Samuel (a jeweler) and Sally (a Sunday school administrator; maiden name, Rossman) Hotchner; married Geraldine Mavor, May 15, 1949 (died January, 1969); married Ursula Robbins (a magazine researcher), April 18, 1970 (divorced, 1995); married Virginia Kiser (an actress), June 28, 2003; children: Tracy, Holly, Timothy Aaron. Education: Washington University, St. Louis, MO, A.B., LL.B., 1941. Politics: Democrat.
CAREER: Admitted to the Missouri State Bar, 1941; practiced law in St. Louis, MO, 1941-42; Cosmopolitan (magazine), New York, NY, articles editor, 1948-50; freelance writer, 1950—. Executive vice president and treasurer, Newman's Own, Inc. (food company); founding director, Hole in the Wall Gang Fund. Military service: U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-46; anti-submarine command, North African Theater of Operations; became major.
MEMBER: Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild, Writers Guild of America, PEN, Missouri Bar Association, Century Club.
AWARDS, HONORS: Distinguished Alumni Award, Washington University School of Law, 1992; honorary D.L., Washington University, 1993.
The Dangerous America, Random House (New York, NY), 1958.
Treasure, Random House (New York, NY), 1970.
The Man Who Lived at the Ritz, Putnam (New York, NY), 1982.
Louisiana Purchase, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 1996.
Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir, Random House (New York, NY), 1966, published as Papa Hemingway: The Ecstasy and Sorrow, Morrow (New York, NY), 1983.
King of the Hill (memoir), Harper (New York, NY), 1973.
Looking for Miracles, Harper (New York, NY), 1975.
Doris Day: Her Own Story, Morrow (New York, NY), 1976.
Sophia, Living and Loving: Her Own Story, Morrow (New York, NY), 1979.
Choice People: The Greats, Near-Greats, and Ingrates I Have Known, Morrow (New York, NY), 1984.
Hemingway and His World, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1989.
Blown Away: The Rolling Stones and the Death of the Sixties, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1992.
(With Paul Newman) Newman's Own Cookbook, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.
(With Paul Newman) The Hole in the Wall Gang Cookbook: Kid-friendly Recipes for Families to Make Together, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.
After the Storm, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2001.
The Day I Fired Alan Ladd, and Other World War II Adventures, University of Missouri Press (Columbia, MO), 2002.
(With Paul Newman) Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2003.
Everyone Comes to Elaine's: Forty Years of Neighbor-hood Regulars, Movie Stars, All-stars, Literary Lions, Financial Scions, Top Cops, Politicians, and Power Brokers at the Legendary Hot Spot, HarperCollins (NewYork, NY), in press.
The Capital of the World (ballet), produced in New York, NY, at Metropolitan Opera House, 1954.
A Short Happy Life (two-act), produced in Los Angeles, CA, 1961.
The Hemingway Hero (two-act), produced in New Haven, CT, 1967.
Do You Take This Man?, (two-act), produced in New York, NY, 1970.
Sweet Prince (two-act), produced in St. Louis, MO, 1980.
(With Cy Coleman) Let 'Em Rot! (musical), produced in Miami, FL, as Welcome to the Club, 1988, produced on Broadway, 1989.
(With Cy Coleman) Courtroom Cantata (musical), produced in New York, NY, 1995.
The World of Nick Adams, produced in New York, NY, 2001.
(With Cy Coleman) Lawyers, Lovers, and Lunatics (musical), produced in New York, NY, 2002.
Author of screenplay, Adventures of a Young Man, Twentieth Century-Fox; also author of teleplays for Playhouse 90, 1958-60, including "Last Clear Chance" and "The Killers of Mussolini," and of teleplays adapted from works by Ernest Hemingway, including For Whom the Bell Tolls, 1958, and The Killers, 1959.
Contributor of numerous articles and short stories to magazines, including Readers Digest, Esquire, and Saturday Evening Post.
ADAPTATIONS: Sophia was adapted as a television film in 1982; Looking for Miracles was adapted as a television film in 1991; The Man Who Lived at the Ritz was adapted as a television film in 1992; King of the Hill was adapted as a feature film by Universal-Gramercy, 1993; After the Storm was adapted as a television film in 2001; Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir and King of the Hill were recorded on audio cassette.
SIDELIGHTS: Although A. E. Hotchner has written best-selling biographies of Doris Day and Sophia Loren and has associated with and written about such luminaries as Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra, Candice Bergen, and Burt Reynolds, he is best known for his 1966 biography of Ernest Hemingway, which is based on his thirteen-year friendship with the Nobel Prizewinning author. The authors' friendship began in 1948, when a Cosmopolitan editor assigned Hotchner to travel to Cuba and persuade Hemingway to contribute to the magazine. While his editor was insistent on getting a Hemingway story, Hotchner remarks in his memoir Choice People: The Greats, Near-Greats, and Ingrates I Have Known that "I was just as intent on avoiding this assignment, for I had a worshipful awe of Hemingway that bordered on the fearful—this gargantuan literary god, omnivorous, immortal, impervious to the ravages of war, pestilence, rampant bulls, and debauchery." After receiving Hotchner's apologetic note explaining his assignment, Hemingway invited the young editor for drinks and later extended an invitation to go fishing on his boat. These meetings developed into a friendship that continued until Hemingway's death, and during this time Hotchner took notes and tape recordings of their conversations. These notes and tapes led to Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir, which was published amid some controversy; some critics questioned its validity, and Hemingway's widow, Mary, sued to prevent the sale of the book. Nevertheless, Papa Hemingway was a best seller, and many found it an enlightening account of Hemingway's life, especially of the years leading up to the author's suicide in 1961.
The structure of Papa Hemingway is mainly dialogue based on Hotchner's recollections of his many conversations with Hemingway. Several reviewers criticized this method of presentation, questioning the accuracy of a straight recounting of conversation. For example, a Times Literary Supplement critic commented that "Hotchner is to be congratulated on his assiduity, but he is to be sharply blamed for not discriminating by even the simplest of footnotes between those dialogues that were written down afterwards and those that were directly captured on tape." The critic added that the conversations "are often so extended that the reader would be more willing to accept them if he knew the method that had been employed."
Other reviewers thought Hotchner's material did not contribute much new information to existing histories about Hemingway. New York Review of Books contributor John Thompson explained that much of the material "has been published before in other forms, in interviews, in brother Leicester Hemingway's book … and notably in A Moveable Feast." Thompson also complained that Hotchner adds "only [to] the black side of the fame, the legends of bragging, drinking, picking fights, and then finally, the bad last years." Hemingway scholar Philip Young went further in his criticism, accusing Hotchner of actually lifting material from other sources, and cited instances where he believed the author misrepresented himself. Writing in the Atlantic, Young commented: "It is awfully difficult to believe that Mr. Hotchner has accurately described the matter out of which his book was made, and just as hard to resist the notion that this Papa Hemingway: Personal Memoir is less by than compiled by him." A Times Literary Supplement critic remarked, less harshly, that Hotchner "does not even remind the reader that one excerpt is a quotation, though he is far too familiar with Hemingway's writings not to have recognized it."
Other critics, however, found Hotchner's work to be a reliable source of information about Hemingway's life due to his special association with his subject. Writing in the Saturday Review, Granville Hicks commented: "Hotchner's style is journalistic, and some of his stories—he tells many good ones—may be touched up a little. And of course no one can be expected to repeat conversations verbatim. But I think that in essentials Hotchner is to be depended on, and I think so because his devotion to Hemingway is so obviously genuine." Because Hotchner acted as a quasi-agent for Hemingway and was the only writer permitted to adapt Hemingway's works for television, some critics conceded that Hotchner was uniquely qualified to write about the late author. "Hemingway soon took Hotchner into his confidence and made him a literary executor of sorts, commissioning him to tell the world everything he would not have the time to put into writing," noted George Wickes in the New Republic. Wickes also observed that the dialogue "sounds like Hemingway alright, with some bad patches that make it sound all the more genuine." Vance Bourjaily, commenting on some of the stories related in the memoir, added in the New York Times Book Review: "Generally these things come from Hemingway, talking to Hotchner, who in turn passes along to us what was said. Thus, once we agree, and there seems no reason not to, that Hotchner must be repeating what he heard, the question of veracity returns to the subject."
Even though Hotchner's relationship with his subject made the memoir credible, some reviewers maintained that this same relationship prevented him from objectively assessing Hemingway's recollections. Even after the biographer concluded that one of Hemingway's tales is mathematically impossible, Atlantic contributor Edward Weeks remained unsure "whether Hotchner believed the stories or mistrusted them as much as I do." Bourjaily noted in the New York Times Book Review that "if there is a touch of hero-worship required for total belief of some observations …, it's a state of mind many readers will bring to the book, and there is not so much of that kind of thing as to be constantly irritating to the more skeptical."
For all the criticism of Papa Hemingway, many reviewers heralded it as definitive portrait of the Nobel laureate. New York Times writer Conrad Knickerbocker wrote: "Hotchner has moved as close as anyone with a tape recorder can toward defining the intricate character of a man who, for better or worse, was a giant." Similarly, Wickes remarked that it is "unlikely that we shall ever get a better portrait of Hemingway as he was in his latter years." The reviewer added: "Hotchner is not only a good reporter, he is an intelligent admirer with an honest concern for presenting the man he observed." In contrast to criticisms that the book details only the dark side of Hemingway, Bourjaily wrote that it is "one of the pleasures of Hotchner's book that we find Hemingway for once allowed to display his gentleness, his gift for casual phrasemaking, his gift for delighting in things and thereby making them delightful to others." Weeks speculated that Hemingway, "who sought legal protection against such biographers as Charles Fenton, must have suspected that this book was coming and wished it to be of the best vintage. One is captivated by his enormous zest, his wonderful talk, his quick friendships, and his hatred of cant."
As Hotchner once told CA: "My long association with Hemingway was the overriding influence on me as a writer and as a person. His sense of values was extraordinary and infectious." This influence is evident in some of the biographer's more recent works, which include a play titled The Hemingway Hero and the 1982 novel The Man Who Lived at the Ritz, which includes a cameo appearance by Hemingway. Like Papa Hemingway, Hotchner's novel inspired varied critical response. Larry Jonas in the West Coast Review of Books called it "a first-rate book that elevates its author to the first rank of contemporary novelists," while James Campbell wrote in the New Statesman that the novel "goes from the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous." Set in Paris during the Nazi occupation, The Man Who Lived at the Ritz follows expatriate American Philip Weber as he goes from apathetic collaboration with the Nazis to active resistance against them. The novel eventually develops into an all-out thriller, with Weber attempting to escape from the Nazis he has betrayed.
In placing the novel in World War II France, Hotchner attempts to recreate the atmosphere of an era. As part of his method, the author "makes period references and interposes a body of actual personages in his story to enhance its sense of timeliness and lend validity and interest to roman a clef situations," according to Jonas. Reviewers differed as to their opinion of the effectiveness of this technique; for example, while Washington Post contributor Charles Naylor found Hotchner "competent in his general knowledge," he complained of "a tendency to display conspicuous period consumerism … all to no positive effect. Ditto the people." In contrast, Monty Haltrecht wrote in the Times Literary Supplement that the background detail "is carefully researched, and convincing….Itiseasy to believe in the Paris of the period, and in Philip as a long-time resident. The complexities of the spy system and Philip's gradual enmeshment are excitingly detailed and characters from real life abound." Overall, New York Times Book Review correspondent Alan Cheuse found The Man Who Lived at the Ritz to be an "entertaining homage to a literary hero and to the genre of spy fiction….Itis more than a merelyclassy little head fake." And Jonas concluded by calling the novel "a story of uncompromising tension and high-level interest. It's Hotchner's best work—by far."
Strong opinions also greeted Hotchner's unauthorized biography of the Rolling Stones, published in 1992 as Blown Away: The Rolling Stones and the Death of the Sixties. Called "a potboiling rock-and-roll equivalent of a bodice ripper" by Village Voice contributor Robyn Selman, the book offers profiles of Rolling Stones band members drawn from secondary sources and from interviews with the Stones' friends, ex-girlfriends, business managers, siblings, and even teachers and acquaintances. The performers themselves are cast in a negative light, with anecdotes about their mistreatment of women, their drug use, and the 1969 tragedy at Altamont—where Hell's Angels gang members hired as security guards assaulted concertgoers—taking center stage. "Long quotes, from sources whose credibility the reader must determine, are held together by driblets of narrative," remarked New York Times Book Review contributor Jon Pareles, who added that "The dirt on the Rolling Stones has been sifted and resifted, with far more style, in [other] books." An even more strident opinion of the work was offered by Wall Street Journal contributor Joe Queenan, who dubbed Blown Away "yet another offering from the smut-and-slime school of pop deconstruction in which performers who have provoked countless hours of pleasure to hundreds of millions of people are mercilessly traduced."
Other reviewers applauded Hotchner's approach to the already well-documented rock band. According to Simon Reynolds in the London Observer, Blown Away "engages with the reader on the level of voyeurism, a vicarious, appalled fascination. If the book is gripping it is because it's a mosaic of interviews with the Stones' associates and contemporaries." Likewise, London Review of Books essayist Graham Coster wrote: "The best bits of Blown Away are the words of an impressive range of Stones people….Nonew inter-views or cooperation from the present band members themselves … works in [Hotchner's] favor. Here the over-familiar Stones story is retold from the outside, yet from within their most intimate circle: little new information, but much new opinion, and after all these years often surprisingly felt."
Although his nonfiction has received a great deal of critical attention, Hotchner has not limited himself by focusing solely on that genre. Throughout his career, as he explains in a New York Times article, he has "roamed the writing landscape, going from novels to biographies to short stories to television dramas to ballets to Broadway plays." With such far-ranging experience, still one goal remained unattained: writing a musical comedy. In 1988 Hotchner realized that goal as well with the premiere of Let 'Em Rot!, which he wrote with composer Cy Coleman. As he recalled in the New York Times, the experience was something completely different for him: "For a guy who has spent his life sitting alone in a small room confronted with a blank piece of paper in an inanimate typewriter, collaborating with all these lively singers and dancers has been a welcome tonic." More recent works have also brought Hotchner critical attention. He worked closely with actor Paul Newman on the successful Newman's Own food line, which raises many thousands of dollars annually for both local and national charities, and has seen his 1973 memoir King of the Hill adapted as a feature film. Reflecting on the way in which the film version of King of the Hill reveals his own tough childhood during the Great Depression, Hotchner concluded in the New York Times: "I know writers often resist their works on film—it's not words, it's images. But this one is true to the people and the times. And I went to school with nothing in the lunch pail. I had to steal sandwiches. Yes, that's me up there on the screen."
In The Day I Fired Alan Ladd, and Other World War II Adventures, Hotchner recounts his years in the U.S. Army, where he was warehoused after failing the physical for the navy. Hotchner was a recent graduate of Washington University Law School who had just passed the Missouri Bar at the time he joined the military to fight in World War II. He aspired to glory on the front lines, but the army quickly found him invaluable in creating morale-boosting plays, films, and musical revues, and once typecast he was never able to transcend the role. It was in his capacity as a writer and entertainer that Hotchner rubbed shoulders with such luminaries as Clark Gable, Alan Ladd, Ronald Reagan, and Dorothy Parker. Though Hotchner never became the war hero he envisioned, the war years were productive in their own way, giving him experience and contacts that fostered his later success. Reviewers applauded the book; a writer for Kirkus Reviews called it a good example of the "all but vanished 'laughter-in-uniform' genre" that is an "amusing, readable, occasionally moving account of life during wartime by a frustrated would-be hero." Likewise, a reviewer for Library Journal called The Day I Fired Alan Ladd "enjoyable and slightly irreverent," while a Booklist writer deemed it a "light, agreeable World War II memoir."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlantic, May, 1966; August, 1966.
Booklist, September 15, 2002, Roland Green, review of The Day I Fired Alan Ladd, and Other World War II Adventures, p. 198.
Chicago Tribune, April 22, 1984; April 23, 1984.
Chicago Tribune Book World, May 20, 1979.
Esquire, June, 1966.
Harper's, June, 1966.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2002, review of The Day I Fired Alan Ladd, and Other World War II Adventures, p. 1281.
Library Journal, October 15, 2002, Mike Miller, review of The Day I Fired Alan Ladd, and Other World War II Adventures, p. 80.
London Review of Books, January 10, 1991, p. 22.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 9, 1982; April 8, 1984.
National Review, June 28, 1966.
New Republic, April 23, 1966.
New Statesman, September 23, 1966; March 26, 1982.
Newsweek, April 11, 1966; December 19, 1966.
New Yorker, June 20, 1970; September 9, 1972.
New York Review of Books, April 28, 1966.
New York Times, April 2, 1966; January 23, 1982; September 25, 1982; March 27, 1988; September 5, 1993, p. CN12.
New York Times Book Review, April 3, 1966; July 26, 1970; August 13, 1972; February 28, 1982; January 22, 1984; April 8, 1984; September 9, 1990,p. 3.
Observer (London, England), October 28, 1990, p. 62.
Publishers Weekly, February 2, 1976; May 10, 1976; August 16, 1976.
Quill & Quire, August, 1986.
Saturday Review, April 9, 1966; April 19, 1967; June 27, 1970; November 28, 1970.
Spectator, July 8, 1966.
Time, April 15, 1966.
Times Literary Supplement, September 29, 1966; April 9, 1982.
Village Voice, April 23, 1991, p. 68.
Wall Street Journal, September 25, 1990, p. A20.
Washington Post, January 22, 1982.
Washington Post Book World, September 3, 1972; April 6, 1975; February 18, 1979
West Coast Review of Books, April, 1982.
"Hotchner, A(aron) E(dward) 1920-." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 20, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/hotchner-aaron-edward-1920
"Hotchner, A(aron) E(dward) 1920-." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Retrieved June 20, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/hotchner-aaron-edward-1920
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