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Press Release: “John Huston” by Jeffrey Meyers

October 24th, 2011

The first complete biography of the life and work of John Huston, the legendary director, writer, actor, and bon vivant who made such iconic films as The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Asphalt Jungle, and The African Queen.


Courage and Art

by Jeffrey Meyers  

Detailed, absorbing portrait of Huston.” Publishers Weekly, starred review

“This may be the most definitive biography of John Huston to date and should appeal to a large general readership.”

Library Journal, starred review 

“Veteran biographer Meyers steps into the ring with legendary movie director John Huston and proves adept at wrestling the larger-than-life figure onto the page— . . . it is the multifaceted picture of how a flawed man produced so many nearly flawless films that makes this biography essential reading for anyone with an interest in twentieth-century moviemaking.”

Booklist, starred review

“A richly flavorful biography of John Huston, the great director and bona fide man’s man . . . this biography is a serious, intelligent, highly readable reckoning with Huston’s outsize legacy”

Kirkus Reviews

An actor in the 1920s and a scriptwriter in the 1930s, John Huston made his dazzling directorial debut in 1941 with The Maltese Falcon, nominated for three Academy Awards and considered one of the greatest films of all time by Roger Ebert. His career as a filmmaker spanned some fifty-seven years, more than half of the first century of cinema, and yielded thirty-seven feature films, many of which are considered classics: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Key Largo (1948), and The African Queen (1951). During his career, Huston received fifteen Oscar nominations, winning twice, and directed his father, Walter Huston, and his daughter, Anjelica Huston, in Oscar-winning performances. Today Huston stands alongside Hitchcock, Welles, Kubrick, Bergman, and David Lean as one of the most influential filmmakers in history.

 Jeffrey Meyers, the acclaimed biographer of Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart, and many others captures the life and work of John Huston in his new biography: JOHN HUSTON: Courage and Art (Crown Archetype; On Sale: September 27, 2011; Hardcover; $30.00). Much of Meyers’s research stems from original interviews with Huston’s Hollywood friends and associates, as well as his relatives and children, and newly available archival material.

 Beyond his gifts as a filmmaker and actor, Huston was determined to live a life with the same action, adventure, and romance that he created in his work. As Meyers writes in the book: “Huston’s most outstanding quality was personal courage: braving the waterfall as a childhood invalid in Arizona, filming under fire in the Aleutians and in Italy, opposing the Communist witch hunt in Washington, shooting The African Queen and The Roots of Heaven under dangerous conditions in Africa, hunting elephants in Africa and tigers in India, riding recklessly in fox hunts in Ireland, winning a camel race in Nevada, marrying for the fifth time, making Under the Volcano, Prizzi’s Honor and The Dead while confined to a wheelchair, gasping for breath and supported by a tank of oxygen.” He was a powerful boxer in his youth, winning twenty-three out of twenty-five amateur bouts before breaking his nose and becoming a ranking California lightweight. His other masculine pursuits included marlin fishing, bullfighting, hunting elephants, drinking, and gambling. 

 He was also unabashedly promiscuous, marrying five times (all ending badly), with each wife successively younger than the last. In a frequently quoted statement Huston asserted, “No one of my wives has been remotely like any of the others—and certainly none of them was like my mother. They were a mixed bag: a schoolgirl; a gentlewoman; a motion picture actress; a ballerina; and a crocodile.” He had three children, and was often a difficult, demanding, and absent father, though he bestowed his legacy to his children, all of whom worked in Hollywood, writing, directing, and acting.

 With equal attention given to Huston’s enormous artistic output and his dynamic personal relationships, Meyers presents a vivid and dramatic narrative of Huston’s remarkably rich life.

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 About the Author

JEFFREY MEYERS grew up in New York City, graduated from the University of Michigan, and received his doctorate from Berkeley. He is the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship and a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation. He is the author of forty-nine books, among them biographies of Gary Cooper, George Orwell, D. H. Lawrence, Joseph Conrad, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. In 2005 he received an Award in Literature “to honor exceptional achievement” from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Meyers lives with his wife in Berkeley, California.


Courage and Art

By Jeffrey Meyers

Published by Crown Archetype, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group

Hardcover; ISBN 978-0-307-59067-1; 496 pages; $30.00

On-Sale: September 27, 2011      

 For more information about JOHN HUSTON or to schedule an interview with

Jeffrey Meyers please contact Caroline Sill at 212-782-8943 / csill@randomhouse.comcrown archetype

The Crown Publishing Group