Unsung

The Untold Story of Rouben Mamoulian, George Gershwin, and Porgy and Bess Joseph Horowitz

“On My Way”
The Untold Story of Rouben Mamoulian, George Gershwin, and Porgy and Bess
Joseph Horowitz
W.W. Norton & Co., $26.95, 256 pp.

Rouben Mamoulian (1897–1987) is forgotten. Joseph Horowitz believes he ought not to be. Immensely admired in the 1920s and ’30s for his originality and creativity as a director of opera, theatre, and films, Mamoulian suffered the collapse of his career at its apex in 1959 when Sam Goldwyn replaced him with Otto Preminger as director of the movie version of Porgy and Bess. Mamoulian withdrew with his wife Azadia into their sprawling neoclassical house in Beverly Hills and died at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Los Angeles thirty-one years later. In On My Way,” Horowitz endeavors to rediscover the man and restore his reputation.

Born of Armenian parentage in Tbilisi, Georgia—then part of the Russian Empire—Mamoulian at age seven moved with his parents to Paris, where he lived for six years. French was just one of the six languages he mastered before graduating from Moscow University with a degree in criminal law. At the Moscow Art Theatre he met Stanislavsky and his disciple, Vakhtangov, under whom he studied acting, writing, and directing. By 1922, staying with his married sister in London, he was directing plays and operettas at the St. James Theatre so successfully that in 1923 George Eastman invited him to Rochester where Mamoulian...

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About the Author

Barry Gault is a psychiatrist in private practice in Newton, Massachusetts.