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Mrs. Ziegfeld: The Public & Private Lives of Billie Burke

Grant Hayter-Menzies, author

Grant Hayter-Menzies, author



Californian by birth and Canadian by adoption, Grant Hayter-Menzies has covered broad territory in nearly two decades of journalistic and biographical writing.  He has reviewed music classical, world and experimental; visual art; film, books and theatre; and gay and lesbian issues for such newspapers and magazines as The Portland Oregonian, Willamette Week (Portland, Oregon), the Eugene Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon), Just Out (Portland, Oregon), Opera News (New York), BIBLIO, The European Royal History Journal (San Francisco), the Peninsula News Review (Sidney, BC) and Galleries West (Calgary, AB and Vancouver, BC).

He has also worked extensively with playwright William Luce, providing original verse for his musico-biography The Divine Orlando (based on the life of the 16th century composer Orlando di Lasso), produced off Broadway in 1988; translations of German poetry for his 1991 Broadway play, Lucifer’s Child, written for and performed by actress Julie Harris; and translations of Rimbaud for his play Nijinsky, which premiered in Tokyo in January 2000. He has also translated German for the 1997 British edition of Greg King’s The Mad King: A Biography of Ludwig II of Bavaria, and is quoted at length in King's most recent book, The Fate of the Romanovs. (John Wiley & Sons 2003).

His first book was a biography of stage and screen comedienne Charlotte Greenwood [1890-1977]. This book, Charlotte Greenwood: The Life and Career of the Comic Star of Vaudeville, Radio and Film, is the first biography of this performer, and is based on exclusive access to Charlotte's unpublished memoirs, letters and memorabilia.  It was published in May 2007 by McFarland & Company.

Hayter-Menzies' second book is the first critical biography of the 20th century Qing dynasty memoirist and personality, Princess Der Ling [1885-1944] (Mrs. Elizabeth Antoinette White). Ttled Imperial Masquerade: The Legend of Princess Der Ling, this book was published in January 2008 by Hong Kong University Press.

Hayter-Menzies' newest book is a biography of actress and Wizard of Oz icon Billie Burke, whose tumultuous marriage to Florenz Ziegfeld and Hollywood typecasting unjustly overshadowed her superb comedic gifts.  This book, Mrs Ziegfeld: The Public and Private Lives of Billie Burke, was published by McFarland & Company in spring 2009.

His current book project tells the story of the friendship of Sarah Pike Conger, wife of the American ambassador to China, and the Empress Dowager Cixi, before, during and after one of the greatest clashes between East and West, the 1900 Boxer Uprising.

Among recent anthologies to which Hayter-Menzies has contributed is a biographical study of the daughters of Russia's Romanov tsars, The Grand Duchesses: Daughters and Granddaughters of Russia's Tsars, published by Arturo Beeche of the European Royal History Journal in August 2004. A companion volume, detailing lives of the Romanov grand dukes, is forthcoming.

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