Summary of the Book



 “When I Knew Al” is a biography of actor Al Pacino through the eyes of his friend and first mentor, fellow actor  Ed De Leo.  Both grew up in the Bronx and both had the hunger to act -- an inborn feeling that they couldn’t suppress.  They both studied acting together and remained friends over the years.  One became a superstar, the other kept faltering at every turn, unable to get a break.  What did  Al Pacino do to succeed?  What caused  Ed De Leo to fall short?  

In this unique and fascinating story, we experience Pacino’s stormy affairs and relationships with Diane Keaton, Jill Clayburgh, Tuesday Weld, Kathleen Quinlan and Beverly D’Angelo… his mental demons… his alcoholism… his fears… and his desires.  We follow his rivalry with Dustin Hoffman, his friendship with Robert De Niro, the loss of four close friends from drugs, his problems at the Actors Studio, his bashing by the critics, his refusal to compromise his art.  We visit all of his stage and screen performances.  At the same time we experience De Leo’s struggles, his faltering at every turn, his often humorous career moves and adventures that kept him from making it.   

Chock full of incidents with famous directors, producers and critics, it is a must-read for people of all ages, film fans, theatre-goers, actors, teachers and performing artists.  Aside from being a journey through the worlds of off-Broadway, Broadway and Hollywood, the book contains chapters that are hilariously funny.