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In his diverse career as a journalist and wordsmith, Herbert Kretzmer has interviewed and profiled some of the twentieth century's greatest figures in theatre, literature, show business and sport. His meetings with these legends are touching, funny and devastatingly honest, providing brief but lasting snapshots of their lives. Brought together for the first time, these portraits offer unique insights into some of the extraordinary talents and personalities who have shaped our culture. Kretzmer's intimate interviews allow us to meet such charismatic individuals as Truman Capote, Petula Clark, Billy Wilder, Cassius Clay, Anita Loos, John Osborne, Joan Plowright, Nicol Williamson, Peter Shaffer, J. P. Donleavy and many others. They are people who achieved greatness by virtue of their invations, personalities and flair, and in these glimpses into their lives they share their hopes and opinions, anecdotes and memories.
Herbert Kretzmer was born in South Africa, came to live in London in 1954, and has since pursued twin careers as newspaperman and lyricist. He joined the London Daily Express in 1960 and later became its senior drama critic, a post he held for eighteen years. As a lyric writer he wrote weekly songs for That Was the Week That Was, the BBC's groundbreaking satire programme. Other award-winning songs include two written with, and for, Charles Aznavour: 'Yesterday When I Was Young' and the chart-topping 'She'. He is probably best known for his lyrics for the 1985 West End production of the Boublil-Schonberg musical Les Miserables, the longestrunning musical in history. Kretzmer was honoured in 1988 by the French government, being appointed Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. In 2011 he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). He holds two honorary doctorates. He lives in London.