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  • “Stacy Keach reveals his truth in ‘All in All,’ without an actor’s hubris or the temptation to embellish. The result is a deeply moving and inspiring story that transcends a traditional Hollywood memoir in both candor and grace. Bravo!”— Martin Sheen

After over forty years of acting for the stage, the small screen, and the big screen, Stacy Keach–he of the Mike Hammer TV series and Cheech & Chong stoner comedies–has written a biography, All in All, which reads like a manual of how to make it as a working actor. Keach is a classically trained Shakespearean performer, a network television star, and a character actor extraordinaire. Acting alongside heavyweights like Paul Newman, Martin Sheen, Faye Dunaway, Jeff Bridges, and Edward Norton, Keach immersed himself in every character he played whether the project was big (playing Hamlet in the park under Joseph Papp) or small (The Mountain of the Cannibal God; enough said) and he researched every role as if it were a postgraduate thesis. Indeed, he credits his meticulous research and unmitigated commitment to the craft, as well as his ability to deal with rejection in a productive manner with his success and longevity. “The ability to handle disappointment is obviously a running theme in my life…” he writes in his autobiography. “And I think it’s an underrated trait.” Stacy also credits his cleft palette, and the teasing he endured as a child because of the malformation, with bringing understanding and empathy to his innumerable dramatic and comedic roles.

Along with the many fascinating and archetypal stories he tells throughout the book (losing out to Jack Nicholson for the lead role in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, being imprisoned in the UK for drug trafficking, getting schooled by the great John Huston in a game of pool, to name just a few), Stacy saves the final chapter of All in All for his hard-won advice to up-and-coming actors. “I tell my students when we don’t get the part, we mope, we get depressed, and we think we’re no good, we lose confidence. We lose sight of the most important aspect of sustaining the life of the actor, and that is faith in oneself.” And Stacy goes on to synthesize what it really takes to succeed as an actor, writing simply, “You have to have a firm conviction that whatever happens, ‘I’m good enough to make it.’” Stacy offers more sage advice in his book such as Americans should not adopt a British accent; instead go for Mid-Atlantic speech with softer vowels; counting iambic feet while performing Shakespeare can be dangerous; and “Find your own voice.” But his enduring insight is on the crucial element of rejection, and how to keep its sabotaging destruction at bay. “It’s okay to express disappointment about not getting the part,” he writes. “But you must keep a cool perspective about the realities of the business, and not let it detract you from continuing to improve your skills.”

So, continue to improve your skills through the ups and downs of your career, determined Thespian! And who knows? Maybe you’ll be writing your memoirs in fifty years!

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