By Janee Law
New York Times bestselling Hollywood biographer and former actress Patricia Bosworth developed her passion for writing as a young girl. She was inspired by her mother, Anna Gertrude Bosworth, a novelist.
“I watched her sit in her room while she was writing away on her little typewriter and also writing longhand and she loved doing it,” said Bosworth, now 83, of Oakland. “She also read a lot and I became a great reader myself. She really inspired me.”
Also inspired by French novelist and actress, Colette, Bosworth took on both writing and acting at 18 years old, performing in several Broadway roles, including “Mary, Mary.” However, she said that she has enjoyed writing more.
Also a longtime board member of the Actors Studio, Bosworth is set to discuss her nationally acclaimed memoir, “The Men In My Life: A Memoir of Love and Art in 1950s Manhattan,” at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington later this month.
Published in January, the book encapsulates several instances in her life that took place during 1953-1963, including how she became an actress and writer, getting married and divorced, finishing college and coping with the suicides of both her father, Bartley Crum, a prominent attorney, and her younger brother, Bartley Crum Jr.
“It was a life packed full of things, everything seemed to happen to me at once during this decade,” she said. “I met every single person that I ultimately wrote about, so it’s a jam-packed book.”
Bosworth will also be promoting the CAC’s screening of “A Place In The Sun,” which stars Montgomery Clift, who was one of Bosworth’s close friends a subject of one of her biographies.
“Montgomery Clift: A Biography” was published in 1979 and was Bosworth’s first biography. She said it was the most successful biography that she has written.
Bosworth has also written biographies on actor Marlon Brando (“Marlon Brando: A Biography”), published in 2001; actress Jane Fonda (“Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman”), published in 2011; and photographer Diane Arbus (“Diane Arbus: A Biography”), published in 1984. She also wrote about her father’s time as an attorney for the “Hollywood Ten” in “Anything Your Little Heart Desires: An American Family Story,” published in 1997.
With each biography came different experiences. Bosworth said the biography on Fonda took 11 years to complete; and Arbus’ biography, which was adapted in 2006 as the film, “Fur,” starring Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr., was the most challenging for Bosworth to write.
“It was so amazing because I went into these strange worlds that [Arbus] inhabited and I’ve never been in these worlds before, so it was really unbelievably interesting,” she said. “That was the biggest challenge and the most enjoyable in terms of collecting original research, which is something to be proud of.”
The key to being a biography writer is to be patient, Bosworth said.
“It’s tough. It is not easy to be a biographer and spend years on books,” she added. “You have to just persevere, keep working and don’t get discouraged even if you can’t get certain sources and people don’t like what you do.”
Bosworth will be at the CAC (423 Park Ave., Huntington) on March 15, 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for CAC members and $25 for the public and can be purchased at Cinemaartscentre.org.