When not making and keeping friends, I am an author, mostly specializing in writing biographies. My first is about Hollywood super-star and producer, Burt Lancaster (1913-1994). The second is about the greatest multi-sport athlete of all time, Jim Thorpe (1887-1953). You can read all about the books on my "alter ego" website. It was brutally hard work and tons of fun at the same time. I learned a lot and met so many amazing, good people along the way in Hollywood, Washington, Cooperstown, Canton, Oklahoma City, New York and more.

Looking back on it, the books were a way to walk right into American life and culture. Why do we love movies so much? Why are sports the common passion of our time? What do movie stars and athletes mean to us? The books didn't try to answer those questions directly, but some answers are, I hope, implicit in the stories of those men.

The personal thing I usually forget about until someone points it out to me is that I "cold started" these ambitious, difficult non-fiction books, and for the best publisher in the business, Knopf, when I was about 45, an age when most of us are more or less consolidating our professional gains. Of course, I had no idea what I was getting into. Do any of us? I just did it, eating fear for breakfast, as they say, every single day.

I couldn't have done any of it without friends, new, old, best. It's time to give back.

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