Some celebrities dabble in multiple fields, combining acting with singing or dancing, for instance. Others have literary aspirations and have tried their hand at writing a book. Some of these star-penned works are nothing to write home about. You can tell the only reason they were published was because of their famous name. Some have the words supplied to them and just serve as a front for the project. There are a rare few, however, that actually have writing chops, proving that one can be both a talented performer and a gifted wordsmith. Here’s a round-up of 12 celebrity authors – the good, the bad and the ghostwritten.
1. Steve Martin – Shopgirl (2000)
Here’s one of our celebrity authors who got it right. Any novel that spends 15 weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list can be considered a big success. Shopgirl, by actor (and Grammy winning banjo player!) Steve Martin was a critically acclaimed hit. The book was also made into a movie starring, you guessed it, Steve Martin.
2. Naomi Campbell – Swan (1996)
Supermodel Naomi Campbell didn’t want to be known as just a pretty face, so she set out to write a novel. Not surprisingly, Swan is all about the highs and lows of the high-fashion modeling world, loosely based on her own experiences. Also not surprisingly, the book was ghostwritten by someone else (and not very well, frankly). In interviews, it became clear that she didn’t really write it and some doubt she even read it. Stick to modeling, Naomi.
3. Isla Fisher – Seduced by Fame (1995), Bewitched (1995)
Fisher wrote her first novel Seduced By Fame when she was a 19 year old working on the Australian soap Home and Away. While many celebs put down their pen after the first attempt, Fisher actually went on to write a second book, Bewitched, in 1996. She says if she hadn’t found success as an actress she would have continued to pursue her writing career.
4. Ethan Hawke – Hottest State (1996)
Reality Bites actor Ethan Hawke must have had a past girlfriend with a few screws loose. His novel Hottest State seems like a semi-autobiographical account of his personal experiences. Fast forward a decade and Hawke made a film of the same name based on his book. Did he play the role of the girl’s lover? Nope, he cast himself as the main character’s father!
5. Hugh Laurie – The Gun Seller (1996)
House actor Hugh Laurie’s first work of fiction, The Gun Seller, revolves around a former officer embroiled in a conspiracy involving international spies and criminal networks. Not wanting to be just a “celebrity author”, the accomplished actor submitted his manuscript under a pseudonym. Rumor has it he is planning on writing a sequel, but nothing has materialized to date.
6. Sylvester Stallone – Paradise Alley (1977)
Stallone hit the jackpot with his Oscar winning screenplay Rocky, and wrote the subsequent films in the franchise. He also went on to write the Rambo series, which was a box office success. However, not everything he touches turns to gold. His wrestling-inspired novel Paradise Alley didn’t do well and the subsequent movie tanked. Still, you have to hand it to Sly for being one of the celebrity authors skilled at writing himself into an action-hero niche.
7. Marlon Brando – Fan-Tan (2006)
Named after the traditional Chinese gambling pastime, the novel Fan-Tan is based on an old screenplay Brando developed with Donald Cammell back in 1979. The project was dropped, but the manuscript was found several years after the two passed away. The screenplay was adapted into a novel (that’s a switch!) and the two found some posthumous literary success.
8. Pamela Anderson – Star: A Novel (2004)
Anderson may be known more for her bod than her brains, but the former Playboy star and Baywatch actress has written a book entitled Star: A Novel. The not-so-original plot follows a small town girl who goes to LA and becomes famous (sound familiar?). Let’s just say that the loosely autobiographical story is as trashy as you might expect, and her writing talents mirror her acting prowess. We don’t expect Pam to be receiving a Pulitzer or Oscar any time soon.
9. Johnny Cash – Man In White (1986)
Man In White is the only book Johnny Cash (aka the “Man in Black”) ever got around to writing. You might expect a gritty crime story from the Fulsom Prison songwriter. However this one’s about six years in the life of apostle St. Paul. The book was well received and has a perfect 5 star rating on Amazon.
10. Macaulay Culkin – Junior (2007)
Home Alone actor Macaulay Culkin’s novel deals with, not surprisingly, a child actor who faces a number of trials and tribulations, including “father issues”. The protagonist eventually leaves the business at the height of his career. Wonder where he got that idea from? At least it’s good to know Mac is keeping himself busy at the keyboard as he doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of film roles these days.
11. Bob Dylan – Tarantula (1971)
Here’s one of the celebrity authors whose songwriting talents didn’t translate to the novel format. If folk singer Dylan is to be believed, he never wanted to write a book but his manager pressured him to pen Tarantula. Creativity never flourishes under those conditions, because the novel only managed to attract negative reviews from critics. Stick to music, Bob.
12. Britney Spears – Heart to Heart (2000), A Mother’s Gift (2001)
Spears and her mother, Lynne Spears, wrote two books in successive years, no doubt with assistance from a ghostwriter/editor. A Mother’s Gift was about a poor girl from a small town adapting to life in the big city after receiving a scholarship to study there. The plot was trashed for lack originality and got a lukewarm reception from critics and readers alike. Nevertheless, it was turned into an ABC family television film in 2004, with the singer taking on the role of executive producer.
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