... so engrossing an exploration of its subject that to call it a 'biography' feels somehow inadequate ... a meticulously researched romp, a harrowing excavation, an emotional séance, and a glittering family reunion, with the author playing game outsider at the gathering, enthusiastic to find out everything she can ... Jacobs’s rigorous fact-checking of Elaine’s tales (some taller than others) is masterful. The way she incorporates her interview subjects’ contrasting versions of events never undermines the satisfaction of the anecdotes, but rather fleshes them out and encourages us to think about why the storytelling might have been fudged ... Jacobs deftly weaves Stritch’s yearning for validation into the fabric of the book, so that to us, her increased earnestness and emotional availability to the public seem foregone conclusions.
Alexandra Jacobs incorporates an astonishing amount of research, including countless personal interviews and physical documents like letters and telegrams. As a result, her portrayal of Stritch is wholly fleshed out, from the actor’s earliest days as a socialite in Detroit to her time as the reigning grand dame of Broadway ... Still Here takes an unflinching look at Stritch’s long love/hate relationship with alcohol ... Still Here also makes considerable effort to round out the portrait of the star, with thorns and all ... Still Here ends with the star saying that under the footlights 'was where I lived.' This biography expertly sketches out the vast other hours of her life, painting a thorough picture of a woman who lived life on her own terms—in an age when it was exceedingly difficult to do so.
... [a] meticulously researched biography, which uses Stritch’s struggles with alcoholism as a window into her work and her life ... As in real life, the Elaine in Jacobs’s book frustrates and entertains in equal measure. She triumphs in Bus Stop she drinks too much, she falls in love with Rock Hudson, she drinks too much, she battles with Walter and Jean Kerr on a mediocre musical, she bewitches Noël Coward, she drinks too much, she sleeps with the dancer Grover Dale, and the circle goes round ... If you read Still Here looking for tidy conclusions or happy endings, you’ll be unsatisfied. It remains unclear if Stritch was ever happy or ever at peace. But as a chronicle of one impossible brilliant actor and the community around her, this biography provides a thoroughly entertaining and vividly drawn picture of show business in the 20th century. And of course Elaine gets the last word, which surely she would appreciate.
... slick, entertaining ... gossipy text, studded with juicy anecdotes. This once-over-lightly approach is perhaps appropriate, given that Stritch was not inclined to introspection ... Consistency doesn’t unduly concern Jacobs if it gets in the way of a good one-liner ... Jacobs’s show-by-show narrative captures the professional life of a working actor in the commercial theater ... Stritch’s tumultuous life and career make an absorbing story, which Jacobs tells briskly and readably. Readers looking for something deeper than the standard showbiz biography will wish that Still Here displayed greater empathy and insight when discussing Stritch’s frequently bad behavior, so obviously rooted in insecurities and anxieties whose origins Jacobs might have done more to explore. For those content with a capable recounting of a colorful life, Still Here will do just fine.
Stories and anecdotes abound from the cornucopia of professional colleagues and artists interviewed to illuminate her work with, among many others, Sondheim, Noel Coward, and Tennessee Williams ... An excellent biography of a true American theater original. For all performing arts collections.
... engaging ... Written with the cooperation of the estate, clear-eyed affection, and considerable stylistic flair, Still Here, offers an intimate, somewhat open-ended portrait of Stritch that leaves intact, perhaps inevitably, the mysteries of her personality, her sexuality, and her relationship to alcohol.
The tone is respectful with spots of humor and compassion. With more than 25 pages of bibliographical notes, it’s clear Jacobs has done meticulous research. She includes quotes and stories from articles, interviews and even some from a memoir Stritch started but never finished. But some of the details and tangents about minor players feel unnecessary and disrupt the narrative ... Still Here is an insider’s story, with behind the scenes show tales and name-dropping as titillating as a good table for eavesdropping at Sardi’s ...This book is sure to send nostalgic Broadway fans to YouTube to replay all her oldies, wishing she was still here.
... under debut author Alexandra Jacobs’ serene and critical hand, Still Here also offers vulnerability alongside vulgarity and authenticity alongside the expected avarice ... Jacobs utilizes the massive cache of information the actress left in her wake, including copious interviews and her archives. This meticulous research allows for the conjuring of a surprising and complex realness that serves as a deep and resounding undercurrent to the public persona so widely known. There is nothing necessarily explosive or sensational here, though there are plenty of big names; it is the way Jacobs tracks the quiet darknesses of Stritch’s private life that gives this book its teeth ... Jacobs captures Stritch’s ambivalent relationship with stardom early on ... The power of Jacobs’ biography is the way she sets Stritch’s story against the canvas of a shifting century, allowing us to watch as the world expands beyond these limiting boxes for female performers, and cheer as Stritch was able to expand herself.
... is, like all good biographies, sympathetic to its subject yet unsparing in its analysis of her flaws. It also provides a marvelous trip back in time to a Broadway that’s gone forever: a Broadway before the advent of megamusicals, of body-miking, of the Disneyfication of Times Square ... Ms. Jacobs’s re-creation of this lost New York, and of Stritch’s ascent within it, will be compulsively readable for those who remember that world, but it’s an oddly depressing tale ... not exactly the 'fabulous' read many might hope for; it’s more interesting than that. It’s nuanced, psychologically complex, and ultimately sad.
... a highly entertaining, if gossipy, biography of the star and her times. And her singular fearlessness in navigating the fickle and brutal world of commercial theater in the US ... Most engaging is Jacobs’ portrait of Stritch as the sensitive theater artist she actually was with a warts and all portrait of the inimitable Stritchy.
This dishy biography will be a ride for the theatrically inclined as Stritch’s 70-year career crosses those of Marlon Brando, Ethel Merman, Noël Coward, Angela Lansbury, Bea Arthur, and, of course, Hal Prince and Stephen Sondheim.
The author covers Stritch’s complicated relationships with men (including her sex-deprived marriage to actor John Bay), her loneliness, and her struggles with alcoholism. She captures Stritch’s big personality through amusing stories, including the time Stritch smuggled her dog into England in a bag ... This book, lush with detail and heavy on Broadway history, will appeal to Stritch fans and theater geeks everywhere.