Before Glee, before Smash, before A Chorus Line, theatre geeks seeking an insider’s peek behind the Broadway curtain made one legendary memoir a hit that continues to dominate its genre decades later. Moss Hart’s Act One is an autobiographical account by the storied American playwright and director born in New York and raised in the Bronx and Brooklyn, who spent summers as an entertainment director in the Catskills and ultimately towered over the Great White Way.
His backstage tour takes the reader to the parties and penthouses where no ticket could secure admission. And the firsthand accounts of his longtime collaboration with George S. Kaufman – studded with guest appearances by creative luminaries such as Cole Porter, Noel Coward and George Gershwin – fill the pages with music and drama.
This classic, originally published in 1959, was returned to print in a 30th anniversary edition released in tandem with Kitty: An Autobiography, the complementary volume penned by Hart’s wife, famed socialite Kitty Carlisle, best known to many as the oddly, elegant panelist on the TV game show To Tell The Truth. Coming from vastly different backgrounds of poverty and wealth, their parallel stories paint a picture of lives peppered with opening nights and martini days.
While the era portrayed in Act One is from a past century, and the Hart plays so celebrated in their day have now yellowed with age, the sharp wit and keen observation put forth by the author remain as entertaining and informative today, as evident by the sustained popularity of this book generation after generation.
The Man Who Came to Broadway, Vanity Fair
Born October 24, 1904, Moss Hart began by directing amateur theater at Catskills resorts. In the 1930s he teamed up with George S. Kaufman to pen stage hits "You Can't Take It With You" (which won the Pulitzer Prize) and "The Man Who Came to Dinner." Hart also directed the original productions of "My Fair Lady" (1956) and "Camelot" (1960). His screenplays include "Gentleman's Agreement" and "A Star is Born."