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Did you ever wonder what it was like to be a part of SHOWBUSINESS HISTORY?

  • Marilyn Monroe babysitting your brothers.
  • Ethel Merman teaching you how to make martinis.
  • Paul Newman giving you acting tips in your parent’s living room.
  • Fielding calls from reporters the night your mom won the Oscar.

Welcome to the world of Luke Yankee, son of Broadway and Hollywood actress, Eileen Heckart. 

In JUST OUTSIDE THE SPOTLIGHT, this masterful storyteller pulls the curtain aside to reveal a world you’ve only dreamed about—full of showbiz gossip and behind-the-scenes tales of all your favorite celebrities. It includes never-before seen photos of stars like Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Lucille Ball, and Clark Gable, plus scores of humorous and touching, heartfelt stories.

JUST OUTSIDE THE SPOTLIGHT is like a party with the biggest names from Broadway to Hollywood… and you’re invited!

“One of the most compassionate, illuminating showbiz books ever written.”    

—Michael Musto, The Village Voice

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“Best Nonfiction Book of the Year”    —Daida Magazine Award

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Reviews & Press


“In a 48-holder box of spectrum-color Crayolas, Eileen Heckart was always the fire engine red. Now Luke Yankee fills in the black and white. In this sensitively remembered and meticulously catalogued memoir, a great actress comes to life wearing many faces. ‘Heckie’ was a mix of Betty Crocker and Auntie Mame. This is her story, told by the one who knew her best. It is also the intimate revelation of a very special relationship between a mother and son that is warm enough to make you cry, funny enough to make you laugh, intimate enough to make you blush, and painful enough to make your heart ache. More than an observer, the candid writing makes you a willing participant in an extraordinary adventure.

—REX REED, syndicated columnist

Catnip for anyone who ever worked in or loved theater, movies and TV.”

LIZ SMITH, The New York Post

“JUST OUTSIDE THE SPOTLIGHT is a multi-hankie Heckie-thon that’s one of the most compassionate and illuminating showbiz books ever written… It’s a privilege to be privy to it.”

MICHAEL MUSTO, The Village Voice

“Oh my! In JUST OUTSIDE THE SPOTLIGHT, Luke Yankee captures the indomitable spirit of a great woman and superb actress. With delicious detail, he honors his mother with every turn of the page.

—CLORIS LEACHMAN, actress, Academy Award winner, “The Last Picture Show”

“A perfect gift for theatre lovers on any occasion..chock full of delectable actors’ anecdotes, it’s told in an engaging style, and laced with love… The biography is very much like an Eileen Heckart performance: honest, on-target, immensely entertaining and leaves you wanting more.”

—MICHAEL BUCKLEY, Playbill Online

“The reason I felt I could go into show business was because of all the wonderful character actors whose work I admired. One of my great pleasures was to be able to work with Eileen Heckart and to realize that her persona matched the depths of her talent. Now her son, Luke Yankee, has written this funny, charming, insightful memoir. All I can say is, Heckie must be so damned proud. I know I am!”

—EDWARD ASNER, actor, winner of seven Emmy Awards 
and five Golden Globe Awards

“Worth checking out is Luke Yankee’s fascinating story of his mother, the remarkable Eileen Heckart. It paints a rich portrait of a theatrically bent son living in the glow of, and soaking up many life lessons from, a warm and nurturing but unpredictable and never-dull mother… as star-laden as it is charming and chatty.

ROBERT OSBORNE, The Hollywood Reporter

“Psychologists have established that sons are highly influenced by their mothers. Luke Yankee has written a loving memoir of his life growing up in the exciting theatrical world of his mother, the brilliant actress Eileen Heckart. Her achievements brought him into the lives of internationally acclaimed icons in show business, yet maintained the warmth and comfort of a happy home. This is a book that will be embraced by those of us in the entertainment business and he millions of fans who will enjoy the wit and charm of his world.

—DORIS ROBERTS, actress, winner of five Emmy Awards, “Everybody Loves Raymond”

A natural raconteur, Yankee moves from anecdote to anecdote with a narrative energy that many smoother stylists will envy. What’s best, though, is his depiction of his domestic life. For 53 years, Heckart was married to an insurance executive who had been her college sweetheart. Yankee brings verisimilitude to his account of their family circle; it’s a contented scene, with recognizable ups and downs. Most touching, perhaps, is the author’s account of his parents and two brothers coming to terms with the news that he’s gay and, finally, inviting his long-term partner into the clan.”

CHARLES WRIGHT, TheaterMania.com

“The life of stage-film-TV star Eileen Heckart recalled in a series of delightful war stories. The stories she passed on to her son reveal a witty, direct, forceful and generous performer. As Yankee matured, he turned to acting and directing. Mother could be his Auntie Mame,and his most forceful critic. He kept going until he got it right. Her stories had taught him that. The author himself knows a thing or two about telling stories. These form an entertaining, touching, valuable chapter in the history of Broadway’s golden age.”  (Starred Review)

Kirkus Review of Books

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“One of the 10 best celebrity memoirs of all time.”    —PaperMag

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Luke Yankee - headshot_hi res

About Luke Yankee

Luke Yankee has directed, produced, taught, lectured and acted throughout the country and abroad. He has run two regional theatres, serving as Producing Artistic Director of the Long Beach Civic Light Opera (one of the largest musical theatres in America) and the Struthers Library theatre, a historic landmark in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Off Broadway, he directed the political comedy, “High Infidelity” with John Davidson and Morgan Fairchild at the Promenade Theatre and Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” at the York Theatre with Penny Fuller and Cynthia Nixon. On Broadway, he has worked as an assistant director on the musical “Grind” starring Ben Vereen (as assistant to Harold Prince), “The Circle” with Rex Harrision and Glynis Johns, “Light Up the Sky” with Peter Falk and New York City Opera’s “Brigadoon” with Tony Roberts.

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About Eileen Heckart

reprinted from TheaterMania.com 

An appreciation of the life and career of Eileen Heckart
By: Michael Buckley

On December 31, 2001, cancer claimed the life of a consummate actress and a truly nice woman. Since I had the good fortune to interview her on three occasions, I’d like to share some quotes and take a look back at the times of Eileen Heckart. 

Fame came to Heckart with back-to-back successes: William Inge’s Picnic and Maxwell Anderson’s The Bad Seed, her seventh and eighth Broadway plays, in both of which she had memorable drunk scenes. In Picnic, Heckart played the spinster schoolteacher Rosemary Sidney, a role for which director Joshua Logan initially thought her too young (at 33). “Inge wanted me; he’d seen me on television,” Heckart recalled, “but Josh Logan had already cast an older actress. I really got the part because Josh found out that Elia Kazan wanted me for a small role in Tea and Sympathy, and [Josh] said, ‘He can’t have her; I’ve got her!’ I played the part for eight months before I felt that I really understood it and gave a good performance.”

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Visit the author’s website at LukeYankee.com, email him directly or follow him on social media below.