My Place in the Sun
Life in the Golden Age of Hollywood and Washington
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Imprint: The University Press of Kentucky
Sales Date: 05/17/2022
536 Pages, 6.12 x 9.25 x 1.62 in, 130 b&w illustrations
- Published: May 2022
The son of a celebrated Hollywood director emerges from his father's shadow to claim his own place as a visionary force in American culture. George Stevens, Jr. tells an intimate and moving tale of his relationship with his Oscar-winning father and his own distinguished career in Hollywood and Washington. Fascinating people, priceless stories and a behind-the-scenes view of some of America's major cultural and political events grace this riveting memoir.
George Stevens, Jr. grew up in Hollywood and worked on film classics with his father and writes vividly of his experience on the sets of A Place in the Sun (1951), Shane (1953), Giant (1956) and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959). He explores how the magnitude of his father's talent and achievements left him questioning his own creative path. The younger Stevens began to forge his unique career when legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow recruited him to elevate the Motion Picture Service at the United States Information Agency in John F. Kennedy's Washington. Stevens' trailblazing efforts initiated what has been called the "golden era" of USIA filmmaking and a call to respect motion pictures as art. His appointment as founding director of the American Film Institute in 1967 placed him at the forefront of culture and politics, safeguarding thousands of endangered films and training a new generation of filmmakers. Stevens' commitment to America's cultural heritage led to envisioning the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors and propelled a creative life of award-winning films and television programs that heightened attention to social justice, artistic achievement, and the American experience.
Stevens provides a rare look at a pioneering American family spanning five generations in entertainment: from the San Francisco stage in the 19th century to silent screen comedies, Academy Award-winning films, Emmy Award-winning television programs and a Broadway play in the 21st century. He reveals the private side of the dazzling array of American presidents, first ladies, media moguls, and luminaries who cross his path, including Elizabeth Taylor, Sidney Poitier, the Kennedys, Yo-Yo Ma, Cary Grant, James Dean, Bruce Springsteen, Barack and Michelle Obama, and many more.
In My Place in the Sun, George Stevens, Jr. shares his lifelong passion for advancing the art of American film, enlightening audiences, and shining a spotlight on notable figures who inspire us. He provides an insightful look at Hollywood's Golden Age and an insider's account of Washington spanning six decades, bringing to life a sparkling era of American history and culture.
Part One: Family
Part Two: War
Part Three: Movies
Part Four: A New Frontier
Part Five: An American Film Institute
Part Six: A Creative Life
Part Seven: The Tests of Time
George Stevens Jr.'s My Place in the Sun is a rapturous ode to his father's remarkable imprint on American cinema, as well as engaging evidence of the son's indelible mark on America's cultural politics. This enthralling recollection paints a moving picture of Hollywood discovering itself and America defining itself in its most consequential hours. Stevens, Jr. captivates with intimate moments and decisive encounters where we discover the humans behind the boldface names. Escapade, heart and grace fill the pages.~Alfre Woodard
LISTEN: George Stevens, Jr. discusses his father's epic film, Giant (1956), on the Classic Movie Musts Podcast. Listen online here.
George Stevens, Jr.'s life as a guardian of American cinema and his own signature films have been a remarkable celebration of the arts. In this riveting memoir he takes us on a glorious journey through so many of America's most important and enduring moments both on-screen and off.~Tom Brokaw
George Stevens' new book is a fascinating journey through his amazing life. He has been at the center of Hollywood for longer than he cares to admit and has the stories to prove it. You will even find out why I've always called him 'Kingfish.' Movies, family, the arts and politics — My Place in the Sun is quite a ride.~Quincy Jones
Long before Ronald Reagan came to Washington, George Stevens Jr. brought Hollywood glamour, and serious film, to the backwater 1960s capital of the United States. The son of a legendary director (Giant, Shane, A Place in the Sun), George Stevens Jr.'s role as an important player in the cultural and political life of the nation, on both coasts, is unique. Through half a century, he established the American Film Institute, the Kennedy Center Honors, and was a friend and confidant to presidents from Jack Kennedy to Barack Obama. His is a tale like no other and spun out here with grace and historical sweep.~Carl Bernstein
If George Stevens Sr. were half as impressive as George Jr. writes in this compelling book, he would still be a Hollywood Lion, director of some of our most memorable movies. The son, like his dad, has also lived a memorable life, recounted in vivid anecdotes of friendships with Elizabeth Taylor, Orson Welles, Edward R. Murrow, and the Kennedys, the movies and documentaries he birthed, the arts he championed, the Kennedy Center he pioneered, the noble life he has lived. My Place in the Sun is a book I avidly consumed in one gulp.~Ken Auletta, media critic for The New Yorker
For anyone interested in Hollywood and the inner workings of Washington, DC, My Place in the Sun is a treasure. It is also the captivating story of a loving father and son.~Jill Abramson, former Executive Editor for The New York Times
My Place in the Sun offers the reader a front-row seat to the birth of the American Century through the lens of a model cultural citizen. In both wartime and peacetime, through national celebrations and tragedies, George Stevens Jr.'s meticulously documented, even-handed portraits of a century's worth of filmic and political historymakers is a must-read for anyone interested in human affairs. I couldn't put it down.~Yo-Yo Ma
A beautifully written memoir of a beautifully lived life. From the studio lots of Hollywood to the corridors of the Capital; from Elizabeth Taylor to Sidney Poitier to my father Robert Kennedy — George Stevens, Jr. was always in the room where things happened. Magnetic, elegant, and deeply thoughtful, My Place in the Sun shines its bright light upon a remarkable man, while so movingly illuminating our own American time.~Rory Kennedy
This is the rare Hollywood memoir that is actually reported, giving the reader — in addition to the intimacy native to a son writing about a father — the assurance that what's on the page is the honest truth. As told by Stevens, one of our keepers of Hollywood's golden age, I will not soon forget the up-close and detailed accountings of game-changing industry meetings and the creations of — amongst other classics — Shane and Giant, conveyed as they are with the careful and compassionate eye of a lifelong citizen of Hollywood and, we now know, ace historian.~Sam Wasson, author of The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood and Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art
LISTEN: George Stevens, Jr. discusses his new book with Hawk Koch on "Inside Hollywood & Behind the Book". Listen online here.
In this insightful and well written memoir, Stevens looks at his family but also tells his own impressive story of a life dedicated to advancing culture and working in Washington's most rarefied circles. It's a must-read for anyone interested in moviemaking, politics, or the inner workings of a great American clan.
My Place in the Sun is a pleasure to anyone interested in the high-end, inner workings of 20th century American culture and will be a source book for future historians. My Place in the Sun is a pleasure to anyone interested in the high-end, inner workings of 20th century American culture and will be a source book for future historians.~Shepherd Express
...Stevens Jr.'s new memoir is filled with hugely entertaining anecdotes, featuring legends from Katherine Hepburn to Cecil B. DeMille. If it was just celebrity encounters, however, the book would have felt like a sugary confection of name-dropping. Stevens Jr. not only uses his father's story...but also historic footage shot at D-Day, in Berlin and at the liberation of Dachau...to illuminate where his own values came from.~Orange County Register
Elegant and engaging...this memoir delivers.~Wall Street Journal
The book is neither serious nor hard to chew, with Stevens taking a relaxed and anecdotal tone when describing his life's work. He makes what was a busy and illustrious career an easy read, it is not overwhelming, complex, or hard to remember. Quite like his father's principles the book respects the audience and talks directly with it- the relaxed tone makes for an easy read. It reads more like a conversation over coffee with one of Hollywood's greats than a lecture by a political figure. Steven's fear of being lesser than his father rings true for many people in America and makes it a great read for those struggling to find themself or their passion- it is especially pertinent for those working in the film industry or looking to bring a political spin to their art.~Aastha Gopal, MichiganSportsZone.com
George Stevens Jr. displays the self-deprecating style of someone enthralled by his work, engaged by his politics and enriched by his friends. His memoir, gracefully written, shows a man who knows that blessings accrue to those who take the high road.~Kitty Kelley, The Georgetowner