Publication Date: April 9, 2024

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Actor. Artist. Cultural Icon.

Dancing on the Edge

A bold memoir of an extraordinary, singular life lived by one of the world’s most beloved and acclaimed figures: Russ Tamblyn.

With more than eighty years as a celebrated artist and actor under his belt, Russ Tamblyn has earned a cherished name among cinephiles and pop culture fans alike, working with such legendary directors as Robert Wise, David Lynch, and Quentin Tarantino. He tumbled through his acclaimed starring role in the original West Side Story as an actor and acrobatic dancer, taught Elvis Presley some signature dance moves, and became an unlikely visionary in the counterculture movement of the ’60s alongside peers and friends Ed Ruscha and Dennis Hopper.

Russ deftly guides readers through his star-studded life and his search for a deeper, more connected existence: attending school with Elizabeth Taylor, earning an Academy Award nomination for Peyton Place, dropping out of Hollywood at the height of his career to become a fine artist in Topanga Canyon, and forging a lifelong friendship with Neil Young. He shares the painful breakup of a twenty-year marriage and the joy of finding true love and inspiration as a husband, father, and mentor in his own right.

Perfect for old and new fans alike, Dancing on the Edge is an intimate and powerful story about the singular life of one of our most gifted storytellers, artists, and stars of the silver screen.


So much fun! What a life! I’ve read many a Hollywood memoir, but never one more joyous, a life more adventurous. Russ Tamblyn is one of a kind. Never a bad word for anybody, unusual in memoir. The unwritten part of this is the man’s charisma–we only see it in his descriptions of his deep friendships and many romances–and his commitment to whatever he decides to do. His relative lack of ego is startling–he actually enjoyed his work on B films and dinner theater necessary to keep an income going once he turned his back on a major career as a Hollywood star in favor of visual art and the counterculture. Enjoyment and a gift for friendship seems to have been Tamblyn’s great art form, right along with his explosive acrobatic dance in such films as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and West Side Story.

The book is propulsive, fantastic story after fantastic story, leading to a larger picture of a life well and thoroughly lived. Props to his cowriter, Sarah Tomlinson, who managed to edit and assemble such rich material into a compelling, linear narrative. I could not stop until it was done. Tamblyn went his own way, deciding not to center his life in the increasingly joyless Hollywood scene, but to step off into something more experimental and chancy and self-created, along with some of the most interesting artists of our time. Great photos illustrate every chapter.

Janet Fitch