Gwyneth Paltrow: Sonnet to successTalk about a golden girl. With a little help from the Bard, Gwyneth Paltrow has gracefully traversed the divergent worlds of media scrutiny. Once caught in the glare of the paparazzi, who enshrined her as a tabloid queen during her romance with Brad Pitt, she nowadays basks in critical glory because of the recent film Shakespeare in Love. Moreover, her depiction of the spirited muse to young Will Shakespeare has put her in the awards arena. Earlier this year she received a Golden Globe as best actress. Could an Oscar be next? Of one thing there is no question: Paltrow's movie career has been rife with literary influence. Granted, Shakespeare in Love is highly speculative and hardly a serious biography. Yet for all the liberties it takes with the life and times of Stratford-Upon-Avon's most prominent citizen, the film's lovers portrayed by Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes are not in jest as they exchange Shakespeare's most stirring and romantic lines. Little wonder that the movie spawned the tie-in, Shakespeare in Love: The Love Poetry of William Shakespeare (Miramax Books/Hyperion, $8, 0786884231), which features excerpts from plays including (naturally) Romeo and Juliet, as well as songs and sonnets plus sepia-toned Shakespeare in Love photos. Prior to her Shakespearean turn, Paltrow took on the part of Charles Dickens's Estella in a contemporary version of Great Expectations, which was novelized (St. Martin's). The movie was far from successful, but Paltrow proved a mesmerizing presence. And she was absolutely engaging as Emma Woodhouse, Jane Austen's feisty heroine who wrongly fancies herself immune to love, even as she tampers with the romantic lives of those around her. First published in 1816, Emma (Bantam Classics), enjoys a reputation as Austen's most brilliantly realized work. Neither Jefferson in Paris nor Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle were adapted from books. But the subjects of both films, in which Paltrow co-stars, have inspired volumes. The former found Paltrow cast as the President's daughter; for the latter, she was transported to the '20s, where she was an associate of the witty, acerbic, and doomed writer, Dorothy Parker. Earlier, Paltrow put in time with other dark characters, via TV's true crime arena. She was the college-aged daughter of a family torn apart by murder, and attempted murder, in the 1993 mini-series adaptation of Joe McGinnis's Cruel Doubt (Pocket Books), which found her playing opposite her real-life mother Blythe Danner. That same year, Paltrow co-starred in the TV movie, Deadly Relations, based on Carol Donahue and Shirley Hall's sobering account of their life with (a sociopathic) father, Deadly Relations: A True Story of Murder in a Suburban Family (Bantam). Even then, Paltrow had a sheen; it's called star-quality.
Biographer Pat H. Broeske's latest book is about Elvis Presley.