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Anna Lee: Memoir of a Career on General Hospital and in Film by Barbara Cooper

Review of Anna Lee's Autobiography - by Tommy Garrett (Anna Lee's Publicist)

I just put down one of the most wonderful biographies I have read in ages. 'Anna Lee' by famed author Barbara Cooper and published by McFarland Publishing. Anna Lee is most widely known as Lila Quartermaine on ABC soap opera, "General Hospital." Lee grew up in affluent Great Britain and early on decided she wanted to become an actress. Like everything this dame set out to do, she achieved it with great success. One of Anna's loveliest parts was as Sister Margaretta in the 1965 hit "The Sound of Music." This is an actress who did more films with legendary director John Ford than any other actress.

This book is well written and researched. It reads like a novel; fluent and interesting. Cooper's style is polished and refreshing. She knew her subject personally and you feel her admiration for the star. Cooper weaves a rich story and delves into the actress's heartbreaks, joys and even shock when she was released from her contract by ABC. Through out the book, Cooper never loses the focus of her story. I fell in love with Anna on the screen in her 1937 movie "King Solomon's Mines." She played Kathy O'Brien. She also starred in Ford's "How Green Was My Valley." This was the film that made her lifelong friends with Roddy McDowall and the beautiful Maureen O'Hara.

O'Hara wrote the Foreword for this book. Cooper tells me, "She is someone that I admire so much. She may have lived in constant pain for over a quarter of a century, but she never complained. She was always willing to go to work whenever ABC needed or wanted her, she was a loving mother and grandmother, but mostly a strong willed British beauty who made it in Britain's movie industry and then came to America in 1939 and made it here in Hollywood as well. She was a fighter but did it with dignity and respect for others." This is a must read for anyone interested in the story of a Hollywood dame who did it with dignity and grace.


Review by Suzanne Lanoue

I read this book because I run Anna Lee's official site. However, it was very good and interesting. I think anyone would find it so. It is just a great biography.

Anna Lee was born a long time ago and lived through many amazing things. She shares her rich history in England, going through the war, being an actress, going to Hollywood, and joining General Hospital. It is very interesting, and I couldn't put it down until I was finished.  I really and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Barbara R. Cooper did a great job of helping Anna Lee write her biography. My only complaint is that I wish there had been more details about her later life. It seems to rush at the end. There were many details of her two first unhappy marriages and all the rest of her life, but not much time is spent on her happy marriage in the end, or about her children, or her time on General Hospital. I'm sure GH fans will love to read about her life, but they might wish there was more about the show and her reminisces about it and the cast. 

It could be, though, that there were reasons for this.  She died before it was finished, so perhaps that is one reason.  She may not have wanted to talk about her children much for privacy reasons, or perhaps the publisher did not feel it would be interesting to us.

Page updated 8/6/16

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