Robert Shaw is most celebrated today as the Oscar-nominated star in movies like From Russia with Love, A Man For All Seasons, The Sting and - most memorably of all - as Quint in the record-breaking Jaws.
His breakthrough came when Hollywood was experiencing something of a British Invasion. Sean Connery, Peter O'Toole, Vanessa Redgrave and Richard Burton were among the new stars. But Shaw was arguably more talented than any, a figure of extraordinary and wide-ranging promise. More than just a mesmerising actor on stage and screen, he was also a gifted writer. He wrote no less than six published novels (winning the Hawthornden Prize), while his plays include the acclaimed Man in The Glass Booth.
The flipside to Shaw's diverse abilities was his well-earned reputation as a hellraiser. A fiercely competitive man in all areas of his life, whether playing table tennis or drinking whisky, he emptied mini-bars, crashed Aston Martins, fathered nine children by three different women, made (and spent) a fortune, and set fire to Orson Welles' house. He died at 51, having driven himself too hard, too fast, but unable to get past the tortured relationship to his father who had committed suicide when Shaw was just 11.
Though his life ended tragically, it is fortunate that Shaw's biographer is someone who knew him well, professionally and personally. Robert Shaw: The Price of Success is a perceptive, sympathetic, but unsparing portrait of the blessings and curses endowing this mercurial, enigmatic but deeply engaging man.
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About the Author
Richard Dreyfuss is an Academy Award-winning actor who has appeared in such blockbuster films as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Jaws. In 1977 he became the youngest man to win the Oscar for Best Actor, which he won for his performance in The Goodbye Girl. He also appeared in Stand by Me, What about Bob?, The American President, and Mr. Holland's Opus, among many other films.