ISBN: 978-0307394866, 978-0307394873
Published 2010, 2011
Also available as ebook.
For three decades, investigative biographer Kitty Kelley has made her mark by writing penetrating examinations of living cultural icons, without their cooperation and independent of their control. In Oprah: A Biography she tackles her most fascinating and formidable subject yet, delivering a comprehensive, rigorously researched, and compulsively readable portrait of a unique American personage who transcends celebrity and who has left an indelible imprint on our society, even as she has sought to change it.
Rising from the humblest of origins, Oprah Winfrey has become one of the most admired women in the world. Adored by millions for her many good works, she is an exemplar of black achievement in a white society, an African American who broke the barriers of discrimination to achieve unparalleled success. The first black female billionaire, she is idolized not only because of her net worth of approximately $2.4 billion, but because she has built her fortune herself, without benefit of marriage or inheritance. The most influential media personality of all time, she branded her wildly successful television show as a confessional for celebrities and news makers, coaxing her guests to bare their love lives, divulge their deepest secrets, admit their transgressions, explore their painful pasts and personal tragedies, and confront their demons in a form of public therapy that has come to be known as “Oprahfication.”
Penetrating her subject’s carefully guarded public image, Kitty Kelley offers, in revealing detail, an intimate look at every aspect of Oprah’s dramatic private life: the truth behind the legend of Oprah as a dirt-poor, fatherless black child neglected by her teenage mother; her complicated feelings about race and her own skin color; her constant battle with her weight; her dysfunctional romantic relationships with men and her close friendships with women, including Gayle King; her enigmatic life partnership with Stedman Graham; her lavish spending on herself and her friends; her heavy drug abuse during her twenties; her family’s many secrets, including the identity of her biological father; and her conflicted relationships with her mother, her siblings, her father, Vernon Winfrey, and her cousin Katharine Carr Esters, who admires her accomplishments but abhors what she calls “Oprah’s lies.”
A closely observed, exhaustively researched, balanced, and psychologically insightful portrait of one of the most fascinating, powerful, and influential public figures or our time, Oprah will be a must-read for anyone who seeks a greater understanding of Oprah’s extraordinary life and career and of her important place in American cultural history.
Oprah debuted at number one on the New York Times best seller list.
The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty
ISBN: 978-0385503245, 978-1400096413
Published: 2004, 2005
Also available as ebook.
The Family is the first comprehensive inside look at the most powerful–and secretive–family in the world and according to the Irish Independent, “is her most controversial, and potentially most important book to date.” Though the Bush Dynasty has wielded enormous power and influence for more than half a century, it has created an obsessively protected public image. Kelley probes behind this guarded image and reveals shocking, penetrating and very human details about the lives of the Bushes, their antecedents, and their present-day family members.
An important polemic on wealth, power and class in America, The Family is rich in texture, probing in its psychological insight, revealing in its political and financial detail and stunning in the patterns that emerge and expose the Bush dynasty as it has never before been exposed. “A fascinating read…an extraordinary read…great history and a great story told,” said Lou Dobbs.
From Senator Prescott Bush’s alcoholism, to his son George Herbert Walker Bush’s infidelities, to George Walker Bush’s religious conversion, shady financial deals, and military manipulations, Kelley captures a portrait of a family that has whitewashed its own story almost out of existence.
The Family debuted at number one on the New York Times best seller list.
ISBN: 978-0446517126, 978-0446605786
Published: 1997, 1998
The Royals, unveils the best-kept secrets behind Britain’s royal family, the Windsors. Based on years of research and hundreds of interviews with palace insiders, Kelley offers an uncensored history so revealing that it was not published in Britain – “A smorgasbord of scandalous tidbits … warts-and-all biography,” reported People magazine.
Giving “a rarefied look inside the world of aristocracy” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kelley exposes the questions around one queen’s parentage and another’s conception, the well-hidden royal affairs, the real reasons for the tumultuous relationship between the Queen Mum and Diana, Princess of Wales and the behind the scenes accounts of the royal marriages.
Kelley uncovered endless illuminating details through years of research, which was hailed by The Washington Times. “Miss Kelley is a fine writer and indefatigable researcher…She has lost none of her edge here in The Royals…A delightful read…As early as the second page, Miss Kelley is referring to the royal family’s ‘secrets of alcoholism, drug addiction, insanity, homosexuality, bisexuality, adultery, infidelity and illegitimacy’ in this century. None of this is exaggerated, none of it is false.”
The Royals debuted at number one on the New York Times best seller list and, according to Publishers Weekly, became the fourth bestselling non-fiction book in America for the year.
UPDATE, 2010: Reissued as trade paperback, ISBN 978-0446585149, with new material. Also available as ebook.
Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography
ISBN: 978-0671646462, 978-0671646478
Published: 1991, 1992
Rarely has the American public had so much to learn about someone who appeared as well known as Nancy Reagan. In Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography. As reported by the Seattle Post Intelligencer, “Kelley has produced a book that exposes more intimate details than ever before revealed about a living former president’s wife.” Kelley offers a shrewd, psychologically perceptive and eye-opening portrait of the woman who stood, for more than eight years, at the power center of American life. Indeed, Kelley told the Associated Press, “She was a good president.”
Through more than 1,000 interviews collected during four years of exhaustive research and reporting, Kelley reveals Nancy Reagan as a superb public performer; a vain, materialistic social climber; a bitter foe and formidable strategist. Foremost, Nancy Reagan was an American phenomenon that created the two most spectacular careers in politics of the time—her husband’s and her own.
As Kelley told to The Pittsburgh Press in 1990, “People keep phoning day after day, saying: ‘I want you to have the true details about what really happened between me and Nancy Reagan or between my husband and Mrs. Reagan. I’m not doing this out of anger or revenge, but I want it recorded as a matter of history. I feel history is entitled to the truth and that you will tell it.'”
“Some want to read it because they like her (Nancy Reagan) and some want to read it because they didn’t like her,” reported the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in its 1991 review, though not everyone was as eager to see Kelley’s book. According to the Herald-Tribune, Barbara Bush later advocated to remove it and Kelley’s book on Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis from a Smithsonian’s first ladies exhibit.
Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography was number one on the New York Times best seller list, selling 1 million copies in hardback. It became the fastest selling biography in publishing history.
UPDATE, 2011: Reissued as ebook.
His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra
ISBN: 978-0553051377, 978-0553265156
Published: 1986, 1987
His Way is an unauthorized biography of one of the most elusive cultural icons in modern America. The book was called “the most eye-opening celebrity biography of our time” by William Safire of the New York Times. Kelley spent three years researching government documents (Mafia-related material, wiretaps and secret testimony) and interviewing more than 800 people in Sinatra’s life (family, colleagues, law-enforcement officers, personal friends).
Exposing details on his marriages, numerous affairs, involvement with the mafia and much more, His Way is a rollicking, relentless and revealing detailing of a man who defined more than five decades of American music, style and entertainment.
The book, however, did face an uphill battle in detailing such a powerful figure, with Sinatra himself filing a lawsuit before it was even published. As William Safire put it in his 1983 New York Times article, “He presumes to use the courts to intimidate the chroniclers of his life; in so doing, he displays the embittered arrogance of a man obsessed.” Sinatra later dropped his lawsuit against Kelley.
His Way was number one on the New York Times best seller list, selling 1 million copies in hardback. The book set records in the U.S., England, Canada and Australia as the biggest selling biography in publishing history.
UPDATE, 2010: Reissued as trade paperback, ISBN 978-0553386189, with new material. Also available as ebook.
UPDATE, 2015: The 2010 edition was reissued for Frank Sinatra’s centennial with a new Afterword.
Elizabeth Taylor: The Last Star
ISBN: 978-0671255435, 978-0440124107
Published: 1981, 1982
While Elizabeth Taylor lived her life in the spotlight, Kelley is able to offer a full, exhaustively researched and detailed portrait of one of Hollywood’s most intriguing figures, with the details of her life gathering an “awesome momentum as they pile one on top of the other,” according to a review in The New York Times.
Kelley’s thorough and honest portrayal of Elizabeth Taylor presents a likable star, while impartially chronicling her lavish lifestyle and numerous marriages and relationships. “‘I didn’t write a book about Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I wrote a book about one of the world’s most controversial women who has been married seven times, who has had huge ups and downs, who has lived her life right out there in the public. I think I’ve been fair. But compared to the other Liz Taylor bios, all that one-sided movie magazine swill, it’s like ‘Helter Skelter’ vs. Bo Peep,” explained Kelley in a 1981 interview with Knight News Service.
The revealing expose on Taylor prompted the Spartanburg Herald-Journal readers to ask “Do you think the public is sick of reading about the private lives of famous folk?” to which Kelley replied “No, I don’t think people will ever tire of reading ‘inside stuff.’”
The Last Star was a New York Times best seller.
UPDATE, 2011: Reissued as ebook with new material. Also available as trade paperback, ISBN 978-1451656763.
Jackie Oh! An Intimate Biography
ISBN: 978-0818402654, 978-0345283279
Jackie Oh! is the inside look at America’s own American princess who continued to fascinate Americans with her private life, long after her public role as First Lady was tragically ended.
The book offers numerous behind-the-scenes details of the Kennedy world, revealing John F. Kennedy’s womanizing ways and offering compelling details on Jackie’s journey from debutante to Senate wife, First Lady and First Widow.
Tragic, heroic, private: the image of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis remains the image of an American icon that will never lose its ability to charm and fascinate.
Jackie Oh! was a New York Times best seller.
Update, 2012: Reissued as Kindle ebook.