Robert Matzen takes a different approach to the traditional Hollywood biography, in part using storytelling skills honed as a feature documentary filmmaker. He also makes a commitment to get the inside story on subjects he covers, relying on primary sources and site visits.
In preparation for his bestseller Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3, Matzen climbed one of the most dangerous mountains in the United States, Mt. Potosi, Nevada, to retrace the steps rescuers took to reach TWA Flight 3 that had crashed near the mountain peak. Fireball surprised reviewers with its unusual take on the final days of screwball actress Carole Lombard and also its focus on others on the plane and their would-be rescuers.
For his next book, Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe, Robert took to the air in the cockpits of B-17 and B-24 World War II heavy bombers to get a glimpse of life in the air as experienced by the fliers of the Eighth Air Force. Mission reveals bomber pilot Stewart as a real-life action hero through 20 often-intense B-24 combat missions. Upon his return home, Jimmy Stewart went into production of the beloved It’s a Wonderful Life while still suffering the effects of what we now know as PTSD. Matzen’s media tour raised awareness about the issue, which became a focus of many interviews, with Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and Willie Geist on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, among others.
Robert’s latest book, Warrior: Audrey Hepburn (Sept. 28, 2021) was written in conjunction with Audrey’s younger son Luca Dotti and tells the story of her courage under fire as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. “UNICEF thought that with my mother they would get a pretty princess to raise money at galas,” said Dotti. “What they really got was a badass soldier.” Written during the pandemic, Matzen captured the surprising, at times shocking story of the unlikely warrior through interviews with Audrey’s best friends and colleagues from her UNICEF career.
Warrior is the sequel to Matzen’s 2019 international bestselling Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II, which takes audiences inside the wartime life of a ballerina in Arnhem under Nazi occupation. The author traced Audrey’s footsteps in the Netherlands and dug deep into research archives in The Hague. With a pro-Nazi mother at war’s outset, and a father imprisoned throughout the war for his actions as a Nazi operative, Audrey Hepburn experienced war close-up. Matzen learned that she served as a doctor’s volunteer aide and as a member of the Dutch Resistance. New interviews, research in top secret archives, and an alliance with Luca Dotti led Robert on a fascinating voyage of discovery into experiences Audrey felt she needed to keep secret her whole life.
To learn more about the reinvented Hollywood biography, explore Robert’s books and follow his blog on this website.
Robert’s Matzen’s works are published by GoodKnight Books, a boutique publisher of high quality titles about Hollywood’s Golden Era.
Robert has written feature articles and movie retrospectives and reviews for a variety of publications. His national bylines include excerpts of Dutch Girl at TIME.com, commentary on the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 on FoxNews.com, and an essay about Jimmy Stewart, PTSD, and the making of It’s a Wonderful Life in the Wall Street Journal.
Below are samples of the 100-plus interviews Matzen conducted with the media about his books Warrior, Dutch Girl, Mission, and Fireball.
Morning Joe feature interview paired with Doris Kearns Goodwin on MSNBC – Dec. 23, 2020
The Story with Martha McCallum feature interview on FOX NEWS – April 25, 2019
DVD Classic Corner with Dick Dinman feature interview for TCM.com – airing June 2019 (Dutch Girl)
DVD Classic Corner with Dick Dinman feature interview for TCM.com – January 3, 2017 (Mission)
UpcomingDiscs.com podcast – Dec. 19, 2016 (Mission)
Tulsa World newspaper feature – Dec. 19, 2016 (Mission)
Glenn Beck Radio Program – Dec. 15, 2016 (Mission)
Chicago Tribune newspaper feature – Dec. 2, 2016 (Mission)
UpcomingDiscs.com podcast – Feb. 22, 2017 (Fireball)
KNPR Las Vegas feature interview – Jan. 23, 2017 (Fireball)