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Still Here

The Madcap, Nervy, Singular Life of Elaine Stritch

Alexandra Jacobs

Picador

Still Here Download image

ISBN10: 125075805X
ISBN13: 9781250758057

Trade Paperback

368 Pages

$18.00

CA$24.50

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Still Here is the first full telling of Elaine Stritch’s life. Rollicking but intimate, it tracks one of Broadway’s great personalities from her upbringing in Detroit during the Great Depression to her fateful move to New York City, where she studied alongside Marlon Brando, Bea Arthur, and Harry Belafonte. We accompany Elaine through her jagged rise to fame, to Hollywood and London, and across her later years, when she enjoyed a stunning renaissance, punctuated by a turn on the popular television show 30 Rock. We explore the influential—and often fraught—collaborations she developed with Noël Coward, Tennessee Williams, and above all Stephen Sondheim, as well as her courageous yet flawed attempts to control a serious drinking problem. And we see the entertainer triumphing over personal turmoil with the development of her Tony Award–winning one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, which established her as an emblem of spiky independence and Manhattan life for an entirely new generation of admirers.

In Still Here, Alexandra Jacobs conveys the full force of Stritch’s sardonic wit and brassy charm while acknowledging her many dark complexities. Following years of meticulous research and interviews, this is a portrait of a powerful, vulnerable, honest, and humorous figure who continues to reverberate in the public consciousness.

Reviews

Praise for Still Here

"Sparkling details . . . clink around Jacobs’s biography, Still Here, like ice in a rocks glass. Stritch, who died in 2014, was a true character, 'full of piss and vinegar,' as Gleason said. It would be possible to write a serviceable book about her life by simply quoting her many one-liners, or by describing her habit of wearing only tights on stage . . . [b]ut Jacobs, an editor of the Styles section of The New York Times, doesn’t rely on Stritch’s charm to fuel the narrative."—Rachel Syme, The New Yorker

"[A] meticulously researched biography, which uses Stritch’s struggles with alcoholism as a window into her work and her life . . . as a chronicle of one impossible brilliant actor and the community around her, this biography provides a thoroughly entertaining and vividly drawn picture of show business in the 20th century."—Jason Robert Brown, The New York Times Book Review

"Alexandra Jacobs’s Still Here: The Madcap, Nervy, Singular Life of Elaine Stritch is, like all good biographies, sympathetic to its subject yet unsparing in its analysis of her flaws. It also provides a marvelous trip back in time to a Broadway that’s gone forever: a Broadway before the advent of megamusicals, of body-miking, of the Disneyfication of Times Square . . . compulsively readable."—Brooke Allen, The Wall Street Journal

"Alexandra Jacobs’s engaging new biography, Still Here, fleshes out our picture of the raspy-voiced actress and singer . . . Written with the cooperation of the estate, clear-eyed affection, and considerable stylistic flair, Still Here, offers an intimate, somewhat open-ended portrait of Stritch that leaves intact, perhaps inevitably, the mysteries of her personality."Julia M. Klein, The Boston Globe

"So engrossing an exploration of [Elaine Stritch] that to call it a 'biography' feels somehow inadequate . . . Jacobs thankfully leaves no stone unturned, making herself a warm and welcoming guide for strangers to Stritch while also diving with fervor into the moments devotees think they know inside and out. It is a meticulously researched romp, a harrowing excavation, an emotional séance, and a glittering family reunion."Natalie Walker, Bookforum

“One of the more surreal, gratifying, and wonderful experiences of my career was when Elaine Stritch played my mother on 30 Rock. An acting lesson, a therapy session, a chance to know the great La Stritch. This book is your chance.”—Alec Baldwin

“Elaine Stritch brought a raw truth to musical theater that had rarely been seen before or since. Her whole self—warts, drinks, and all. In this biography, Alexandra Jacobs shows Stritch’s every pore, and we are all better for it.”—Sarah Silverman

“Alexandra Jacobs’s Still Here is a delicious, page-turning, and meticulous romp through the distinctive life of a feminist icon. The talented, urbane, smoking-and-drinking queen of Broadway’s tough dames lived a life of accomplishment, boldly frank opinions, and just as bold-faced names that defined the Great White Way (and Hollywood) of recent yore. Elaine Stritch balanced theatrical perfectionism, glamorous Manhattan evenings, and behavioral brinksmanship with the never-quite-dismissed lessons of her Catholic background in the Midwest. I learned as much as I was entertained and left smitten: my idea of a pretty terrific book.”—Sheila Weller, New York Times–bestselling author of Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon—and the Journey of a Generation and Carrie Fisher: A Life On The Edge

"The Stritch presented here is a study in contrasts: she came off as a brassy freewheeler, but she was naïve enough to think Rock Hudson had a crush on her; she was a self-described strong woman, yet the women's movement didn't dent her staunch apoliticality . . . This was the key to her long-lasting appeal: she had an uncanny ability to play to an audience. This dishy biography will be a ride for the theatrically inclined as Stritch's 70-year career crosses those of Marlon Brando, Ethel Merman, Noël Coward, Angela Lansbury, Bea Arthur, and, of course, Hal Prince and Stephen Sondheim."Booklist

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

1.

“THANKS FOR EVERYTHING”


She wasn’t exactly born with a silver flask in her fist, but when Marion Elaine Stritch made her first entrance on February 2, 1925, at Harper Hospital in Detroit, at the uncharacteristically...