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Showbiz Nation LIVE! Interview with WILLIAM V. MADISON, Author of “Madeline Kahn: Being the Music, A Life”
Madeline Kahn: Being the Music, A Life (University Press of Mississippi, May 2015) examines Kahn’s film career, including not only her triumphs with Mel Brooks and Peter Bogdanovich, but also her overlooked performances in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother and Judy Berlin, her final film. Her work in television—notably her sitcoms—also comes into focus. New York theater showered her with accolades, but also with remarkably bad luck, culminating in a disastrous outing in On the Twentieth Century that wrecked her reputation there. Only with her Tony-winning performance in The Sisters Rosensweig, fifteen years later, did Kahn regain her standing.
Drawing on new interviews with family, friends, and such colleagues as Bill Cosby, Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett, Gene Wilder, Harold Prince, and Eileen Brennan, as well as archival press and private writings, Madison uncovers Kahn’s lonely childhood and her struggles as a single woman working to provide for her erratic mother. Above all, Madison reveals the paramount importance of music in Kahn’s life. A talented singer, Kahn entertained offers for operatic engagements long after she was an established Hollywood star, and she treated each script as a score. As Kahn told one friend, her ambition was “to be the music.”
Mr. Madison is a former producer at CBS News and a former associate editor of Opera News; he was the lone production assistant on the Broadway musical Rags in 1986. A graduate of Brown University and of Columbia’s School of Creative Writing, he is a native Texan.
“Madeline Kahn: Being the Music, A Life” is available on Amazon.com.
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