Mike Peros has been the film critic at NoHoArtsDistrict.com for many years. So many in fact that we can’t even remember clearly how it happened, but what we do remember and are eternally grateful for, is Mike’s genuine love for film.
So it’s only natural I suppose that when he wrote his second book, ”José Ferrer: Success and Survival (Hollywood Legends Series),” it would be about someone he admired deeply who worked in the medium he loves. Jose Ferrer is a fascinating man to write about and as Mike researched him he uncovered much more than even he was prepared for. José Ferrer became the first Puerto Rican actor to win the Best Actor Academy Award for the 1950 film version of Cyrano de Bergerac. His iconic portrayal of the lovelorn poet/swordsman had already won him the Tony in 1947, and he would be identified with Cyrano for the rest of his life. Ferrer maintained his pride in his Puerto Rican heritage, donating his Oscar to the University of Puerto Rico while championing the work of Latino poets and playwrights. He continuously evolved, striving to remain relevant, stretching his talents (including cabaret, operas, musicals, and yes, ballet!), and writing the occasional guest column for major newspapers. Ferrer’s life is an American success story and a testament to reinvention and resilience.
Mike Peros’ book is available through amazon (buy)…there is little that isn’t these days, so please go and purchase a copy. In the meantime, I asked Mike a few questions about it…remotely of course!!!
Here’s Mike…in his own words.
So you asked why Ferrer: After l finished “DAN DURYEA: HEEL WITH A HEART,” there were several items I considered before my next subject. Was there a book on the person already and was this a person I wanted to spend a lot of time with? I have always been a Ferrer fan, there (surprisingly) had been no previous biography, and I knew he led a pretty colorful life. My publisher and editor at University Press of Mississippi agreed, so I was back in the bio business.
How long…and the process: From beginning to end (as in submitting final edit along with photos) it took a little over three years. When you’re doing research on a film/television actor, you have to watch the actor’s performances, find printed or online material not only on the works themselves, but also about the person behind the screen persona. I was lucky with Ferrer: Boston University had a collection of his papers, plus there was much material at USC Cinema Arts Library and Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library. Also I was able to connect with Monsita, Maria, and Rafael, three of his children by Rosemary Clooney (his eldest Miguel passed away around when I began my research.) They were very helpful and supportive. They love their dad and saw I was creating a balanced portrait of their father. Of course, once you do the research you have to write the darn thing and then rewrite it and revise it ( especially if you discover things along the way). It helps to have a good editor and I did!
How did I manage my time? I would do the heavy part of my research during the summer at USC, Margaret Herrick etc. During the school year I would reserve one or two hours most afternoons (after my school work) to organize and keep track of my notes, write and revise. The school’s computer monitors are much bigger than my home screen, so I did much of the writing at school. (At my age, bigger is better!)
Advice? I can only tell you what works for me. You need to be passionate about what you’re doing, in whatever literary form you’re working with. Try to please yourself but also be honest with yourself. If a certain approach isn’t working try another. And it doesn’t hurt to walk away a little and return with a fresher pair of eyes. And with that first draft, write it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s always easier to get rid of things than to find things to add.
Next project? Don’t know yet since my full time gig is a teacher and this year is gearing up to be challenging. It will be someone who hasn’t got his due yet that I can promise.
Mike is our regular film critic, although lately, that has been a bit difficult, to say the least!! He has explored TV, Netflix and HBO as well as pulled together some favorite film articles. Thanks to Mike we know what to watch and what to skip. With so much content and only so much time, even during the lock downs, his is a familiar and graceful voice, guiding us through it all. Let’s hope that someday soon we will all be back in our seats at the local movie theatre, clutching our popcorn and bracing for the latest thrills. For now…there is his wonderful book on one of Hollywood’s unsung heroes, Jose Ferrer.