OVERRIDE

The Man Who Saw a Ghost

The Life and Work of Henry Fonda

Devin McKinney

St. Martin's Press

The first major biography of the iconic actor Henry Fonda, a story of stardom, manhood, and the American character

 

Henry Fonda's performances—in The Grapes of Wrath, Young Mr. Lincoln, The Lady Eve, 12 Angry Men, On Golden Pond—helped define "American" in the twentieth century.  He worked with movie masters from Ford and Sturges to Hitchcock and Leone. He was a Broadway legend. He fought in World War II and was loved the world over. 

Yet much of his life was rage and struggle.  Why did Fonda marry five times—tempestuously to actress Margaret Sullavan, tragically to heiress Frances Brokaw, mother of Jane and Peter? Was he a man of integrity, worthy of the heroes he played, or the harsh father his children describe, the iceman who went onstage hours after his wife killed herself? Why did suicide shadow his life and art? What memories troubled him so?

McKinney’s Fonda is dark, complex, fascinating, and a product of glamour and acclaim, early losses and Midwestern demons—a man haunted by what he'd seen, and by who he was.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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1
 

Springfield, 1839

Young Mr. Lincoln


It is a basic American scene. Torches, a rope, a jailhouse, a crowd; darkness lit by fire, smashed windows, vulnerable door. A basic, terrifying scene. No American can fail to recognize it.
Someone was murdered earlier tonight. Two men are in custody, and the crowd wants them. In front are elderly drunks who at another time might be lovable. “We’ve gone to a heap of trouble not to have at least one hangin’,” one drawls.
Only Abe Lincoln, lawyer for the accused, is there to oppose them. He pushes
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Man Who Saw a Ghost

“McKinney offers a unique portrait of an actor who hid so much emotionally but trusted his audience to see what he couldn't show them.”--Associated Press

"In rich, lyrical prose, McKinney deftly honors both the man and the mystery."--Kirkus Reviews

“McKinney offers a unique portrait of an actor who hid so much emotionally but trusted his audience to see what he couldn't show them.”--Associated Press

"In rich, lyrical prose, McKinney deftly honors both the man and the mystery."--Kirkus Reviews

In the Press

Henry Fonda, a parched and private American icon - The Washington Post
Author Devin McKinney argues Henry Fonda acting was an escape from the depressing limits of his own life.
- The Washington Post

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Devin McKinney

  • DEVIN MCKINNEY, author of Magic Circles: The Beatles In Dream And History, has written for The Village VoiceThe Oxford American, The Guardian, The American Prospect, and Film Quarterly.  He lives in central Pennsylvania.

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The Man Who Saw a Ghost

The Life and Work of Henry Fonda

Devin McKinney

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Press

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