Sam Wasson is a fabulous social historian because he finds meaning in situations and stories that would otherwise be forgotten if he didn’t sleuth them out, lovingly.

—Hilton Als, The New Yorker

Wasson is a canny chronicler of old Hollywood and its outsize personalities... More than that, he understands that style matters, and, like his subjects, he has a flair for it.

—Michael Schulman, The New Yorker


L.A. native Sam Wasson studied Film at Wesleyan University and at the USC School of Cinematic Arts before publishing his first book, A Splurch in the Kisser: The Movies of Blake Edwards, which film critic Andrew Sarris deemed “the critical resurrection of Blake Edwards."

In 2010, Wasson's Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman became a New York and Los Angeles Times Best Seller. The book has been translated into over a dozen languages, and was named by Entertainment Weekly one of the best pop-culture books of all time. 

Paul on Mazursky, Wasson’s 2011 book of conversations with the legendary writer-director of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and Down and Out in Beverly Hills, moved director Quentin Tarantino to declare Paul Mazursky "one of the great writer-directors of cinema.”

Fosse, Wasson’s award-winning 2013 biography of the legendary director-choreographer, appeared on over a half-dozen Best of the Year lists and was called “one of the most eloquent showbiz accounts in years” by the Chicago Tribune. In conjunction with the Paley Center for Media, Wasson unearthed "Seasons of Youth," a lost 1961 Fosse television special, now publicly available at the Paley Center's archives in New York and Los Angeles. 

In addition to his work as an author, Wasson has written for numerous publications including The Hollywood ReporterThe Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker. He’s served as a consultant for The National Comedy Center in New York and The Film Society of Lincoln Center, was a Visiting Professor of Film at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and Emerson College in Los Angeles. As panelist and lecturer Wasson has appeared all over the world, from the 92nd Street Y in New York to The Second City in Chicago and the Rome International Film Festival, and has been a featured guest on CNN, BBC, Fox, ABC, NPR, and for The Criterion Collection.

In 2017, The New York Times called Wasson's latest book, Improv Nation: How We Made A Great American Art, "one of the most important stories in American popular culture."

His latest book, The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood, will be released February 2020.

Wasson lives in Los Angeles.