Vaz's new book is a biography of filmmaker, adventurer and aviator Merian C. Cooper, who not only made the Oscar-nominatedChang (1927), but was also the producer-director of the original King-Kong (1933). This Fall, TCM will debut a new documentary about Cooper by Kevin Brownlow. And in December, LOTR director Peter Jackson, author of the forward to this new biography, is set to release his own version of King Kong.
More about the book: "Explorer, war hero, filmmaker, and cinema pioneer Merian C. Cooper – the adventurer who created King Kong – was truly larger than life . . . . Cooper's place in history is assured, thanks not only to the monstrous gorilla from Skull Island but because the story of Kong's creator is even bigger and bolder than the beast he made into a cultural icon. Spellbound since boyhood by tales of life-threatening adventure and exotic locales, Cooper plunged again and again into harrowing expeditions that took him to places not yet civilized by modern man. Cooper was one of the first bomber pilots in World War I. After the war, he helped form the famous Kosciuszko Squadron in battle-torn Poland. He then turned his attention to producing documentary films that chronicled his hair-raising encounters with savage warriors, man-eating tigers, nomadic tribes, and elephant stampedes."
"In addition to producing King Kong, he was the first to team Fred Astaire with Ginger Rogers, arranged Katharine Hepburn's screen test, collaborated with John Ford on Hollywood's greatest Westerns, and then changed the face of film forever with Cinerama, the original 'virtual reality.' He returned to military service during World War II, serving with General Claire Chennault in China, flying missions into the heart of enemy territory. This book is a stunning tribute to a two-fisted visionary who packed a multitude of lifetimes into eighty remarkable years. The first comprehensive biography of this unique man and his amazing time, it's the tale of someone whose greatest desire was always to be living dangerously."