Inventing Elsa Maxwell by Sam Staggs
How an Irrepressible Nobody Conquered High Society, Hollywood, the Press, and the World

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Mr. Staggs writes in a bright, conversational style exactly suited to the worldly affairs he tells of.
-WSJ online


One of the twentieth century's most colorful characters brought back to life in this biography by the author of All About All About Eve

With Inventing Elsa Maxwell, Sam Staggs has crafted a landmark biography. Elsa Maxwell (1881-1963) invented herself–not once, but repeatedly. Built like a bulldog, she ascended from the San Francisco middle class to the heights of society in New York, London, Paris, Venice, and Monte Carlo. Shunning boredom and predictability, Elsa established herself as party-giver extraordinaire in Europe with come-as-you-are parties, treasure hunts (e.g., retrieve a slipper from the foot of a singer at the Casino de Paris), and murder parties that drew the ire of the British parliament. She set New York a-twitter with her soirees at the Waldorf, her costume parties, and her headline-grabbing guest lists of the rich and royal, movie stars, society high and low, and those on the make all mixed together in let-'er-rip gaiety. All the while, Elsa dashed off newspaper columns, made films in Hollywood, wrote bestselling books, and turned up on TV talk shows. She hobnobbed with friends like Noel Coward and Cole Porter. Late in life, she fell in love with Maria Callas, who spurned her and broke Elsa's heart. Her feud with the Duchess of Windsor made headlines for three years in the 1950s.

Inventing Elsa Maxwell, the first biography of this extraordinary woman, tells the witty story of a life lived out loud.


About Sam Staggs

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SAM STAGGS is the author of five books, including four biographies of movies: All About All About Eve, Close-Up on Sunset Boulevard, When Blanche Met Brando, and Born to be Hurt. He has written for publications including Vanity Fair and Architectural Digest. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
Published October 16, 2012 by St. Martin's Press. 384 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction
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WSJ online

Reviewed by Ethan Mordden on Nov 02 2012

Mr. Staggs writes in a bright, conversational style exactly suited to the worldly affairs he tells of.

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