Douglass K. Daniel
AUTHOR

Douglass K. Daniel

I couldn’t believe it – Anne Bancroft hadn’t been the subject of a biography for nearly 40 years. What I did believe was this: Surely the iconic Mrs. Robinson of “The Graduate,” the Tony and Oscar winner of “The Miracle Worker,” the two-time Emmy winner who began acting professionally in live TV while still in her teens had a story worth telling. That’s what first drove me to explore Anne Bancroft’s life and career. Still, a biographer must decide whether he or she wants to spend the next few years living with the subject of a book. A quick peek at Bancroft’s credits in film, TV and theater left me thinking, “These are movies and TV shows I’d like to see and plays I’d like to read.” In case you wondered, the next step I took was to create an outline of her life and work. A plus of biography is the fact that it’s chronological; you know when it begins and when it ends. Finding out what’s in between makes it interesting. I read the major newspaper and magazine profiles of Ms. Bancroft and noted the milestones – childhood in the Bronx, drama studies in New York, contract with 20th Century-Fox at age 20, early marriage and early divorce, return to New York and debut on Broadway. Oh, and there was that marriage of 40-plus years to Mel Brooks. You know, the conventional thought about those two is, wow, opposites do attract. But they are alike in many ways: both were native New Yorkers, both were in the entertainment business, both loved to laugh, both had intellectual pursuits (she had an interest in science, he in Russian literature) and both valued friends and family over the Hollywood see-and-be-seen social life. In time I found myself talking to people who grew up with her, who worked with her, who knew her as a friend, who loved her. Of particular help was her older sister, JoAnne, who remembered the kid sister called Marie in the Italiano family. That’s right – Anne Bancroft was really Anne Marie Italiano. On live TV she was Anne Marno. Hollywood gave her the last stage name she would use. I hope that readers of “Anne Bancroft: A Life” will discover, as I did, how much hard work went into her craft. And how it didn’t come easily to her. She understood better than most that what’s hard is what’s worth doing.
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