ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Film publicist, writer.
(With Howard Mandelbaum) Screen Deco: A Celebration of High Style in Hollywood ("Architecture and Film" series), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1985.
(With Howard Mandelbaum) Forties Screen Style: A Celebration of High Pastiche in Hollywood ("Architecture and Film" series), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.
Uncle Mame: The Life of Patrick Dennis, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Contributor to periodicals, including the New York Times, Quest, Variety, and Opera News.
SIDELIGHTS: Eric Myers's broad understanding of the world of film is evident in his first book, Screen Deco: A Celebration of High Style in Hollywood, which he wrote with Howard Mandelbaum. This volume documents the use of Art Deco in 1920s to 1940s film design, not only for the musicals with which it is most commonly associated, but also in comedies and dramas. Kevin Jack Hagopian wrote in Quarterly Review of Film and Video that "oddly, the most interesting segments deal with the most seemingly prosaic of Art Deco motifs: the decoration of home, office, and the ubiquitous nightclub. The variety of ornamentation, the construction of profilmic space, and the evolution of these styles over time are richly demonstrated in Mandelbaum and Myers's stills presentation, and Screen Deco does demonstrate the extent to which Art Deco was absorbed into filmmaking." Film Comment contributor Russell Merritt wrote that "the portfolio of stills brings together for the first time that extraordinary, ultra-manufactured world of lush boudoirs, make-believe ballrooms, and smart supper clubs that defined classic Hollywood glamour."
Myers and Mandelbaum followed their debut with Forties Screen Style: A Celebration of High Pastiche in Hollywood, which studies trends in the making of post-war Hollywood films.
Uncle Mame: The Life of Patrick Dennis, is the biography of one of the most interesting gay men in Hollywood, Patrick Dennis, author of the book Auntie Mame, which was adapted for the film that starred Rosalind Russell and later appeared on Broadway. Dennis, born Edward Everett Tanner III, also published under the name of Virginia Rowans, and in the 1950s he wrote a number of stories featuring the outlandish Mame, all of which were rejected. Then a visionary editor at Vanguard Press suggested that he turn them into a novel. The book made Dennis a millionaire, and he was the first author to have three books on the New York Times bestseller list at once. The others were Guestward Ho! and The Loving Couple. His career peaked in 1962, when his play Little Me opened on Broadway.
Lambda Book Report critic Andrew Holleran wrote that "for those gay readers who always thought little Patrick's aunt was somehow a big queen in disguise, or wondered if Dennis was gay, Myers's biography has some astonishing answers. Yes Dennis was homosexual (as if Little Me left any doubt), but he was also an upper middle class, Midwestern American Protestant." His life until that point had been conventional. Dennis served in World War II, married a New York debutante, had two children, and worked for the Council on Foreign Relations. But after Little Me opened, Dennis left—but never divorced—his wife for a man he met at the Luxor Baths. Another novel, Tony, is purportedly about that man, a social climber who then left Dennis for a woman who may or may not have been the owner of a diamond mine. Holleran noted that it is fortunate that some of the people in Dennis's life were still alive to contribute to Myers's biography. His wife said that although a shy man, Dennis was prone to undressing in public after having had a few drinks.
As Myers writes in Uncle Mame, even with all of his literary triumphs, the handsome and fashionable Dennis never felt successful. He drank to excess, attempted suicide, and underwent shock therapy at a sanatorium before he came to the realization that he had to follow his heart. He hit bottom in the 1970s, finally drying out to take jobs that included being a butler to MacDonald's founder Ray Kroc and his wife, Joan. He also ran a Houston art gallery, a Mexico City public relations firm, and produced and hosted Mexican television shows. Dennis was working in his third job as a butler when he developed pancreatic cancer. In 1976 he returned to live with his wife and died in that same year. When she died more than two decades later, she was buried with the urn that contained his ashes in her arms.
Holleran called Uncle Mame a "hilarious, sad, and touching story." Mark Griffin wrote in Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide that Dennis and Myers "remind us that gay life once pulsated with acerbic wit and sparkling showmanship, qualities not found in, say, the average Calvin Klein underwear ad." Advocate writer Robert Plunket noted that Uncle Mame "is exciting news, not only because it rescues from oblivion one of the great comic writers of the century . . . , but also because it has an amazing story to tell."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Advocate, November 21, 2000, Robert Plunket, review of Uncle Mame: The Life of Patrick Dennis, p 112.
Film Comment, May, 1986, Russell Merritt, review of Screen Deco: A Celebration of High Style in Hollywood, pp. 72-74.
Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, July, 2001, Mark Griffin, review of Uncle Mame, p. 40.
Lambda Book Report, December, 2000, Andrew Holleran, review of Uncle Mame, p. 14.
New York Times Book Review, December 17, 2000, Ted Loos, review of Uncle Mame, p. 22.
Publishers Weekly, November 1, 1985, review of Screen Deco, pp. 60-61; October 16, 2000, review of Uncle Mame, p. 63.
Quarterly Review of Film and Video, October, 1989, Kevin Jack Hagopian, review of Screen Deco, pp. 93-97.
Times-Picayune, February 6, 2001, review of Uncle Mame, Living section, p. 4.
Variety, January 17, 1990, review of Forties Screen Style: A Celebration of High Pastiche in Hollywood, p. 66.
PlanetOut.com,http://www.planetout.com/ (November 9, 2004), review of Uncle Mame.*