All Columns in Alphabetical Order

Thursday, February 2, 2023

#ReadThis #AFrontRowSeat by #NancyOlsonLivingston @KentuckyPress

A Front Row Seat is a trip down memory lane by author and actor Nancy Olson Livingston, and for everyone interested in the entertainment business, it's a must-read.  Knowing the history of the business is essential, and her first-hand look at how it's done and the culture around it are eye-opening from beginning to end.

You of course know her from Sunset Boulevard, which we understand is President Trump's favorite movie starring Gloria Swanson, but her real life coupled with her professional accolades and society stories will keep you turning the pages. Though she is a mid-west original, her bi-coastal American living is sure to appeal to our readers.  Nancy embellishes style, intellect, kindness, consideration and emotional intelligence in a world that can be quite devoid of it at times.  This book is timeless.

We liked the Jackie/Jack Kennedy reference on p. 120, and the tidbits included are fantastic including a phone call from Walt Disney himself.  Even if you are not specifically interested in entertainment, Nancy's overall life lessons are thought-provoking.  The music business is covered quite a bit as well as Nancy married it twice.

If you like reading about Hollywood, a book like this is the gold standard.  Any second-hand news you see when you are checking out of the grocery story cannot compare at all.  If you are here, you are interested in Whom You Know directly, not through a third party!  Nancy is classy and classic and the times she does dish she does it with panache.

Nancy really has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and to see what we mean, crack open this winner.

A Front Row Seat is Recommended by Whom You Know.

One of the Last Leading Actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood Releases New Memoir

A Front Row Seat: An Intimate Look at Broadway, Hollywood, and the Age of Glamour

From her childhood in the American Midwest to her Oscar-nominated performance in Sunset Boulevard (1950), actress Nancy Olson Livingston has lived abundantly. In her new memoir, A Front Row Seat, Livingston treats readers to an intimate look into her life as a woman, wife, mother, and actress working and building a life in the last gleaming years of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

“If luck is a lady, like the song says, that lady must be Nancy Olson Livingston—an Academy Award–nominated actress (Sunset Boulevard) and muse to her first husband, lyricist Alan Jay Lerner (My Fair Lady), and to the Capitol Record impresario Alan Livingston. Her life has been a banquet. A Front Row Seat is a vivid, illuminating record of all the high-rolling stars of music, film, theatre, and politics who found a seat at her glamorous table.”—John Lahr, theater critic, writer, and author of Notes on a Cowardly Lion: The Biography of Bert Lahr

Beginning with her childhood, readers walk with Livingston through the pivotal moments of her life. As a student at UCLA, she is signed by Paramount and packs in a series of roles including several films with William Holden. One of those films becomes Sunset Boulevard for which she receives an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

In her early 20’s Livingston exchanges her title of leading lady for that of wife and muse to composer Alan J. Lerner, with whom she has two daughters. But when that marriage dissolves, Livingston returns to the screen costarring in films such as Pollyanna and The Absent-Minded Professor.

After a stint on Broadway, she marries Alan Livingston, head of Columbia Records, and together they host the likes of up-and-coming talents such as The Beatles and help raise the cultural bar in Los Angeles. With her husband by her side, Livingston later trades her work on Hollywood’s center stage for a life behind the scenes. She contributes her time and resources to organizations such as The Blue Ribbon where she works as a patron for children and women in the realm of art education.

Entertaining and engrossing, A Front Row Seat deftly interweaves Livingston’s life with her observations of the artists, celebrities, and luminaries with whom she came in contact—a paean to the twentieth century and a treasure for readers enamored with a bygone era.

Filmography for Nancy Olson Livingston

● Dumbbells (2014)

○ Starring: Brian Drolet, Hoyt Richards, and Taylor Cole

○ Role: Bianca Cummings

○ Director: Christopher Livingston

○ Summary: A former basketball star suffering from a knee injury looks to rehab himself at a rundown Los Angeles Gym.

● Flubber (1997)

○ Starring: Robin Williams, Marcia Gay Harden, and Christopher McDonald

○ Role: Ford Secretary

○ Director: Les Mayfield

○ Summary: An absent-minded professor discovers “flubber,” a rubber-like super-bouncy substance.

● Making Love (1982)

○ Starring: Michael Ontkean, Kate Jackson, and Harry Hamlin

○ Role: Christine

○ Director: Arthur Hiller

○ Summary: A successful young L.A. doctor and his equally successful television-producer wife find their happily-ever-after life torn asunder when he suddenly confronts his long-repressed attraction for other men.

● Airport 1975 (1974)

○ Starring: Charlton Heston, Karen Black, and George Kennedy

○ Role: Mrs. Abbott

○ Director: Jack Smight

○ Summary: A 747 in flight collides with a small plane and is rendered pilotless. Somehow the control tower must get a pilot aboard so the jet can land.

● Snowball Express (1972)

○ Starring: Dean Jones, Nancy Olson, and Harry Morgan

○ Role: Sue Baxter

○ Director: Norman Tokar

○ Summary: When John Baxter inherits a ski resort in the Rocky Mountains, he quits his job in New York and moves west to run it—only to find his “estate” in a state of total dilapidation.

● Smith! (1969)

○ Starring: Glenn Ford, Nancy Olson, and Dean Jagger

○ Role: Norah Smith

○ Director: Michael O’Herlihy

○ Summary: An Indian boy flees when he is accused of murder.

● Son of Flubber (1963)

○ Starring: Fred MacMurray, Nancy Olson, and Keenan Wynn

○ Role: Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Brainard

○ Director: Robert Stevenson

○ Summary: When Professor Brainard experiments further on Flubber derivatives, he gets in trouble and only his students can help.

● The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)

○ Starring: Fred MacMurray, Nancy Olson, and Keenan Wynn

○ Role: Betsy Carlisle

○ Director: Robert Stevenson

○ Summary: A college professor invents an anti-gravity substance which a corrupt businessman wants for himself.

● Pollyanna (1960)

○ Starring: Jane Wyman, Hayley Mills, and Richard Egan

○ Role: Nancy Furman

○ Director: David Swift

○ Summary: A young girl comes to an embittered town and confronts its attitude with her determination to see the best in life.

● Battle Cry (1955)

○ Starring: Van Heflin, Aldo Ray, and Mona Freeman

○ Role: Mrs. Pat Rogers

○ Director: Raoul Walsh

○ Summary: Young Marines have adventures in love and war.

● The Boy from Oklahoma (1954)

○ Starring: Will Rogers Jr., Nancy Olson, and Lon Chaney Jr.

○ Role: Katie Brannigan

○ Director: Michael Curtiz

○ Summary: Corrupt mayor Barney Turlock appoints lawyer-wannabe greenhorn Tom Brewster as sheriff but regrets his choice when Brewster becomes efficient at fighting crime and solves the murder of the previous sheriff.

● So Big (1953)

○ Starring: Jane Wyman, Sterling Hayden, and Nancy Olson

○ Role: Dallas O’Mara

○ Director: Robert Wise

○ Summary: In the late 1890s, a young, widowed woman becomes a successful farmer and can send her son, nicknamed ‘So Big,’ to college. After graduating, he finds a job as an architect, but forgoes his dream in favor of an immediate financial success.

● Big Jim McLain (1952)

○ Starring: John Wayne, Nancy Olson, and James Arness

○ Role: Nancy Vallon

○ Director: Edward Ludwig

○ Summary: In the post-war Hawaii, House Un-American Activities Committee investigators Jim McLain and Mal Baxter hunt down Communists.

● Submarine Command (1951)

○ Starring: William Holden, Nancy Olson, and William Bendix

○ Role: Carol

○ Director: John Farrow

○ Summary: Submarine commander Ken White reminisces about his wartime years aboard submarine USS Tiger Shark and struggles with feelings of personal guilt.

● Force of Arms (1951)

○ Starring: William Holden, Nancy Olson, and Frank Lovejoy

○ Role: Lt. Eleanor MacKay

○ Director: Michael Curtiz

○ Summary: During World War II in Italy, an American sergeant and WAC lieutenant take time out for romance.

● Mr. Music (1950)

○ Starring: Bing Crosby, Nancy Olson, and Charles Coburn

○ Role: Katherine Holbrook

○ Director: Richard Haydn

○ Summary: A golf-crazy songwriter tries to avoid the long, solitary hours of concentration needed to produce a hit musical. His producer and his secretary conspire to get him back on track.

● Union Station (1950)

○ Starring: William Holden, Nancy Olson, and Barry Fitzgerald

○ Role: Joyce Willecombe

○ Director: Rudolph Mate

○ Summary: A sharp-eyed woman spots a man with a gun on a train and her alert to the railroad police helps them in their search for a ruthless gang who have kidnapped a blind heiress.

● Sunset Blvd. (1950)

○ Starring: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, and Erich von Stroheim

○ Role: Betty Schaefer

○ Director: Billy Wilder

○ Summary: A screenwriter develops a dangerous relationship with a faded film star determined to make a triumphant return.

● Canadian Pacific (1949)

○ Starring: Randolph Scott, Jane Wyatt, and J. Carrol Naish

○ Role: Cecille Gautier

○ Director: Edwin L. Marin

○ Summary: A surveyor for the Canadian Pacific Railroad must fight fur trappers who oppose the building of the railroad by stirring up Indian rebellion.

● Portrait of Jennie (1948)

○ Starring: Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, and Ethel Barrymore

○ Role: Teenager in Art Gallery

○ Director: William Dierterle

○ Summary: Eben is a talented but struggling artist in Depression era NY. One day, after he finally finds someone to buy a painting from him, a pretty but odd young girl named Jennie Appleton appears and strikes up an unusual friendship with Eben.

Back to TOP