Quirk, Lawrence J. 1923-
QUIRK, Lawrence J. 1923-
PERSONAL: Born September 9, 1923, in Lynn, MA; son of Andrew Lawrence and Margaret Louise (Connery) Quirk. Education: Suffolk University, B.A. (cum laude), 1949; graduate study at Boston University, 1949-50.
ADDRESSES: Home—74 Charles St., New York, NY 10014.
CAREER: Writer for film magazines, and former editor of Screen Life, Screen Parade, Screen Stars, Movie World, and Hollywood Stars; editor and publisher, Quirk's Reviews, 1972—. Has also worked for Lynn Item, Lynn, MA, Boston Record-American, Boston, MA, New York World-Telegram and Sun, and as film critic for Motion Picture Herald, Motion Picture Daily, and other periodicals. Military service: U.S. Army, 1950-53; public relations assignments, 1951-53; became sergeant.
AWARDS, HONORS: Walt Whitman Award, 1979, for Some Lovely Image.
The Films of Paul Newman, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1971, revised edition, 1981.
The Films of Fredric March, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1971.
The Films of William Holden, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1973.
The Great Romantic Films, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1974.
The Films of Robert Taylor, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1975.
Some Lovely Image (novel), Quirk Publishing, 1976.
The Films of Ronald Colman, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1977.
The Films of Warren Beatty, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1979.
The Films of Myrna Loy, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1980.
The Films of Gloria Swanson, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1984.
Claudette Colbert: An Illustrated Biography, Crown (New York, NY), 1985.
Bette Davis: Her Films and Career, revised edition, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1985, second revised edition, Citadel (New York, NY), 1990.
Lauren Bacall: Her Films and Career, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1986.
The Complete Films of William Powell, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1986.
Jane Wyman: The Actress and the Woman, Norton (New York, NY), 1986.
Margaret Sullavan: Child of Fate, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1986.
Norma: The Story of Norma Shearer, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1988.
Fasten Your Seat Belts: The Passionate Life of Bette Davis, William Morrow (New York, NY), 1990.
Totally Uninhibited: The Life and Wild Times of Cher, William Morrow (New York, NY), 1991.
The Great War Films, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1994.
Paul Newman: The Unauthorized Biography, Taylor (Dallas, TX), 1996.
The Kennedys in Hollywood, Taylor (Dallas, TX), 1996.
James Stewart: Behind the Scenes of a Wonderful Life, Applause (New York, NY), 1997.
(Coauthor, with William Schoell) The Rat Pack: The Hey-Hey Days of Frank and the Boys, Taylor (Dallas, TX), 1998.
Bob Hope: The Road Well-Traveled, Applause (New York, NY), 1998.
Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography, University Press of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), 2002.
Also author of introduction, Anthology of Photoplay Magazine, 1928-1940, Dover, 1971. Contributor to Variety, Photoplay, Modern Screen, New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Films in Review, and Theatre.
SIDELIGHTS: Lawrence J. Quirk has built a reputation as one of the country's leading authorities on motion pictures. In numerous books, he has chronicled the lives and careers of some of the most famous American film stars, including Paul Newman, Joan Crawford, Lauren Bacall, and Bette Davis. Quirk, a Massachusetts native, also contributed to the body of literature on the Kennedy family with books such as Robert Francis Kennedy and The Kennedys in Hollywood. Quirk's family did have some links to the Kennedys even before the author was born, as they were from the same general area. In The Kennedys in Hollywood, Quirk explored the Kennedys' fascination with Hollywood and its stars. It is common knowledge that the family patriarch, Joe Kennedy, had a longstanding extramarital liaison with Gloria Swanson, one of Hollywood's most glamorous figures in those days. Quirk alleges that the affair had a lasting effect on John Kennedy, who later seemed to repeat the scenario with screen legend Marilyn Monroe. Reviewing The Kennedys in Hollywood for Perspectives on Political Science, David A. Gugin warned that the book is full of subjective comment and has "little scholarly value," but added that "it's fun and easy to read."
Quirk focused on a tightly-knit, powerful group of celebrities in The Rat Pack: The Hey-Hey Days of Frank and the Boys. Frank Sinatra and his friends Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford were the core members of a group that, in the early 1960s, was known as the Rat Pack. Cool, rich, and confident, they made their own rules and used Hollywood as a playground for excessive self-indulgence. Their behavior was "swinish," according to Gordon Flagg in Booklist, but nevertheless, "the guys make pretty compelling subjects."
A more appealing character was actor Jimmy Stewart, known for his folksy manner and his skill at playing characters motivated by integrity. A hardworking, pleasant, unpretentious man in a milieu better known for its temperamental, egotistical stars, Stewart's story is less sensational than the Kennedys' or those of Sinatra and his circle; yet in James Stewart: Behind the Scenes of a Wonderful Life, Quirk does "a good job" setting down the facts of the actor's life, and "his discussion of Stewart's films is especially good," commented Beverly Brewer in Library Journal. A Publishers Weekly reviewer also praised the book as a "thorough, engaging look" at the actor's life.
Paul Newman is known as one of the most private of celebrities, yet Quirk's biography of him is "engaging and revealing," stated Rosellen Brewer in Library Journal. She stated that Quirk's book illuminated obscure facts about the actor's first marriage, his son's tragic death by suicide, and the effect that loss had on Newman. A different opinion was presented in Publishers Weekly, whose reviewer disapproved of the author's implications about the actor and called Paul Newman: The Unauthorized Biography "prurient" and "mean-spirited."
Another Hollywood icon, Bob Hope, was Quirk's subject in Bob Hope: The Road Well-Traveled, and while Library Journal contributor Jayne Plymale described this book as "a hatchet job" on the famous comedian, she added that it was "a wickedly riveting one" that "cannot be dismissed as less than authoritative."
Quirk established the James R. Quirk Awards in 1973, for meritorious achievements in film-related fields.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Advocate, June 10, 1997, review of Paul Newman: The Unauthorized Biography, p. 76.
Booklist, January 1, 1990, p. 868; August, 1996, Ilene Cooper, review of The Kennedys in Hollywood, p. 1850; April 15, 1998, Gordon Flagg, review of The Rat Pack: The Hey-Hey Days of Frank and the Boys, p. 1410; October 1, 1998, Mike Tribby, review of Bob Hope: The Road Well-Traveled, p. 302.
Book World, September 22, 1996, review of The Kennedys in Hollywood, p. 6.
Choice, September, 1990, p. 127.
Film Quarterly, summer, 1990, p. 25.
Films in Review, June, 1990, p. 380.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 1997, review of James Stewart: Behind the Scenes of a Wonderful Life, p. 1628; December 1, 1989, p. 1733; November 1, 1997, review of James Stewart, p. 1628.
Library Journal, April 15, 1997, Rosellen Brewer, review of Paul Newman, p. 84; December, 1997, Beverly Brewer, review of James Stewart, p. 109; June 1, 1998, Michael Colby, review of The Rat Pack, p. 110; August, 1998, Jayne Plymale, review of Bob Hope, p. 93; September 15, 2002, review of Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography, p. 66.
Los Angeles Times, August 1, 1988.
New York Times Book Review, March 11, 1990, p. 19.
Perspectives on Political Science, summer, 1997, David A. Gugin, review of The Kennedys in Hollywood, p. 189.
Publishers Weekly, July 29, 1996, review of The Kennedys in Hollywood, p. 81; March 17, 1997, review of Paul Newman, p. 68; November 10, 1997, review of James Stewart, p. 65; March 23, 1998, review of The Rat Pack, p. 87; August 3, 1998, review of Bob Hope, p. 62.
BookPage, http://www.bookpage.com/ (March 19, 2003), review of The Rat Pack.*