Former CBS News Producer Chronicles the Genius of Madeline Kahn

William V. Madison has crafted an intimate, authorized biography.

At Monday’s 14th annual “Stand Up for Madeline” event hosted by the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at Caroline’s on Broadway, author William V. Madison was in attendance with his new book and some family members. His tome Madeline Kahn: Being the Music, A Life is the first authorized biography of the actress and Broadway performer.

On a recent episode of NPR Milwaukee’s Lake Effect, Madison explained the circumstances of taking over the book project from someone who was unable to complete the work:

“I also have a background in classical music,” he said. “That was also very important, because the family felt that Madeline’s musical training had been overlooked to great extent. And that’s why the book has the sub-title that it has.”

To coincide with the book’s April 29 publication, Madison wrote a great article for The Jewish Daily Forward about how Kahn belatedly connected with her Jewish heritage. And, as he also told the NPR hosts, he will take it as a great sign of personal success if his book inspires a new generation to watch and appreciate Kahn’s final movie Judy Berlin, an indie drama in which she portrays a Long Island housewife.

Published by University Press of Mississippi, the biography traces how being placed in boarding school at age five and struggling to forge a close relationship with mom impacted much of Kahn’s adult life. Over the years, everyone from co-star Gene Wilder to New York Times critic Vincent Canby have praised Kahn’s talent, calling her respectively “the best comedic or dramatic actress I ever met” and “possibly the funniest woman in films.”

In addition to working for CBS News, Madison has also served as associate editor of Opera News and a production assistant on the 1986 Broadway musical Rags. To help promote the book, he has finally joined Twitter; follow him at @williamvmadison.

Book cover courtesy: University Press of Mississippi