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Donald Spoto (born June 28, 1941) is an American celebrity biographer, Catholic theologian and former monk. He is best known for his best-selling biographies of film and theatre celebrities such as Alfred Hitchcock, Laurence Olivier, Tennessee Williams, Ingrid Bergman, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Alan Bates. He has also written biographical accounts of the House of Windsor from the Victorian Era through to Diana, Princess of Wales and of religious figures such as Jesus, and Saint Francis of Assisi, which was made into a television program by Faith & Values Media.[1][2]



A native of New Rochelle, New York, Spoto graduated from Iona Preparatory School in 1959 and received his B.A. from Iona College in 1963 and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Theology (New Testament studies) from Fordham University in 1966 and 1970, respectively.[1][3] He taught Theology, Christian Mysticism, and Biblical Literature at the New School for Social Research from 1975 until 1986 and then at University of Southern California, beginning in 1987.[3] He was also a visiting lecturer at the British Film Institute and the National Film Theatre in London from 1980 until 1986.[1][3]

In the middle-to-late 1970's, he began writing biographies of film directors and other film and stage celebrities. More recently, he has alternated between the celebrity biographies and accounts of such religious figures as Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi.[1] The latter was made into a television program of the same title, Reluctant Saint: Francis of Assisi, "produced for Faith & Values Media by Lightworks Producing Group and West Egg Studios." Spoto's Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life was adapted into a four-hour drama which aired in 2000 on the U.S. Broadcast Network CBS. The production featured Joanne Whalley, Tim Matheson, Tom Skerritt, Francis Fisher, Andrew McCarthy, Phillip Baker Hall, Fred Ward and Diane Baker. Spoto was an executive producer of the project, along with George Stelzner of West Egg Studios.

Spoto serves (or has served) on the boards of directors of Human Rights Watch, Death Penalty Focus and the San Francisco-based Youth Law Center.[1]


Michael Coveney, in the Guardian, describes Spoto as "an American quasi-academic gossipmonger who has produced zestful, authoritative books..." [4]


Spoto has published 24 books[1]:


  1. ^ a b c d e f Biography of Donald Spoto.
  2. ^ Reluctant Saint: Francis of Assisi Home page, accessed 17 September 2007.
  3. ^ a b c Biography at UCLA library.
  4. ^ Michael Coveney, "Guilty Secrets" , Guardian Unlimited 16 June 2007. (Review of Otherwise Engaged: The Life of Alan Bates.)


External links



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