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Originally published December 14, 2014 at 6:05 AM | Page modified December 15, 2014 at 5:33 PM

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Books and DVDs for stage-struck and movie-mad fans

Dishy memoirs, a singalong Disney hit and a documentary on Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt are good holiday gift choices for film and performing-arts buffs.

Seattle Times theater critic


From tell-all memoirs to a manual for aspiring magicians, here are some gift choices for the stage-struck and movie-buff folks on your holiday list:


“Big Magic for Little Hands: 25 Astounding Illusions for Young Magicians” by Joshua Jay (Workman; $19.95). Levitate a sibling! Make a teacup disappear! Scare the pants off your parents! Jay (no relation to magician Ricky Jay) gives clear, well-illustrated instructions for nifty tricks suitable for the younger set.

“Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina” by Misty Copeland (Touchstone; $15.99). How did an “undersized, underprivileged and anxious” 13-year-old dancer become one of the few African-American soloists in the history of American Ballet Theatre? The story Copeland tells about her rise to ballet glory is compelling and inspirational.

Not That Kind of Girl” by Lena Dunham (Random House; $28). She’s pushed a lot of buttons with the daring cable-TV series “Girls,” and now writer-actor-director Dunham is stirring up more kerfuffle with this well-written account of her joys and missteps growing up smart, artsy and unfiltered. Wise or shameless, Dunham is at the center of the zeitgeist, and young women have been gobbling up this best-seller.

“Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh” by John Lahr (Norton; $39.95). The life of one of America’s finest playwrights (“A Streetcar Named Desire,” “The Glass Menagerie”) was easily as dramatic as his famous scripts. Williams the brilliant artist and troubled man are both explored in a scrupulously researched and revealing biography — a companion to Lyle Leverich’s“Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams,” about Williams’ earlier years.

“Watch Me: A Memoir” by Anjelica Huston (Scribner; $27.99). Huston covered her early life in “A Story Lately Told.” This companion memoir offers a frank account of her acting career, her complex relationship with director father John Huston and her longtime affair with two-timing paramour Jack Nicholson. There’s dish galore from a gal who gracefully survived being one of the “Beautiful People” in Tinseltown’s swinging ’70s and ’80s.

“Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life” by Sophia Loren (Atria Books; $28). For a dose of that fading thing called Hollywood Glamour, the 80-year old Italian star reflects on her tough wartime childhood, her hot affair with Cary Grant, and — mama mia! — her love of her bambinos and grand-bambinos. It’s standard but diverting stuff, illustrated with personal photos of the voluptuous actress who gave Marilyn Monroe a run for her money back in the day.


“Frozen: Sing-Along Edition” (Walt Disney Video). If children you love are among the millions who adore this entertaining animated film inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” the new DVD/digital version will have them bursting into “Let it Go” and other songs from this box-office winner.

“The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” (PBS Video). History rocks in Ken Burns’ absorbing 2014 public TV series, which documents the fascinating clan that gave us two game-changing American presidents. The seven-disc boxed DVD set comes with extra features.

“Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Complete Cases Collection”(Acorn Video). Esteemed British actor David Suchet portrayed the definitive Hercule Poirot for 25 years. All 70 of the cases he cracked, as Agatha Christie’s dapper Belgian detective, are collected in this hefty DVD set that comes with intriguing extras, including a documentary about the real Orient Express.

Misha Berson:

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