First to Leave the Party: My Life with Ordinary People…Who Happen to be Famous by Salah Bachir (He/Him) Breaks Ground as One of the First Books to Feature Author Pronouns on Cover

First to Leave the Party: My Life with Ordinary People…Who Happen to be Famous by Salah Bachir (He/Him) Breaks Ground as One of the First Books to Feature Author Pronouns on Cover

“Salah Bachir has the biggest Lebanese heart of anyone I know” – Legendary filmmaker Norman Jewison

Published on October 17, 2023, by Signal,a division of Penguin Random House Canada

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of the book will be donated by Bachir to Human Rights Watch

NEW YORK, June 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ – Penguin Random House is proud to be publishing First to Leave the Party: My Life with Ordinary People… Who Happen to be Famous by renowned arts patron, activist and philanthropist Salah Bachir on October 17, 2023. In a groundbreaking stride to normalize discussions about gender identity and the sharing of pronouns, the intimate, celebrity-studded memoir is one of the first books to feature an author’s pronouns on the cover. 

“I had never seen the use of pronouns on a book cover before. I wanted to use my pronouns on the cover out of courtesy and respect because I believe the only way to normalize sharing our pronouns is by doing it as often as possible,said Bachir. “When we all share our pronouns, it takes a weight off the shoulders of trans and non-binary people. I was surprised that I had never seen pronouns included on a book cover before.”

The book is a marvelous and compulsively readable collection of stories (some short, some long, some surprising, others juicy, and all fascinating) from the unconventional life of Salah Bachir. Bachir has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to advance the arts, human rights, and social justice causes. Bachir was once compared to Cosimo de‘ Medici by The Globe and Mail for his role as an art patron.

As a highly respected publisher and business executive in the film and home video world for over four decades, Bachir has been given front-row access to Hollywood’s biggest stars. However, it is his sheer joy of life, art, giving back, and human interaction, that has endeared him to some of the most famous and creative people in recent times. Salah’s personal charm and kindness, his overall style (think hats, scarves, brooches, pearls, diamonds) and deep involvement in the art world has made him a friend, companion, confidante, and/or lover to so many — including Marlon Brando, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Eartha Kitt, Elizabeth Taylor , Mary Tyler Moore, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Edward Albee, Orson Welles, Aretha Franklin, Norman Jewison, and Ella Fitzgerald — although it’s true that Katharine Hepburn once turned him down, very politely.

Salah Bachir‘s encounters with stars who have passed through his beloved Toronto over the years opens on a backyard garden barbecue with Marlon Brando, and bread continues to be broken with icons as fascinating and seemingly disparate as Muhammad Ali and Liberace, Margaret Atwood and Cesar Chavez, Andy Warhol and Princess Margaret, to name just a few. But the true literary coup is that the biggest, brightest star we encounter is the author himself.’Alan Cumming

‘Sweetly and directly, Salah recounts his amazing life, entwined with so many amazing lives. I’m honoured to be included! (And happy that Marlon Brando comes out of it well!)’Margaret Atwood (tweeted on June 18, 2023)

‘Salah is the patron saint for all of us who are full of curiosity, hungry for celebration, horny for fun, and who won’t stop until every need is fulfilled. His appetite and passion for life is voracious. His ability to transform those passions into making life better for others is even more impressive.’Atom Egoyan 


Salah Bachir is a successful entrepreneur, executive, publisher, producer, author, and patron of the arts. He has created and built several successful businesses and set up some of the most creative and innovative programs in the media and sponsorship worlds. He has used the same passion and drive, along with his extensive network, to become one of Canada’s most outstanding fundraisers and philanthropists, helping to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for public health causes, the arts, diversity and inclusion, the 2SLGBTQ+ community, social justice, and more. Bachir has received many awards for humanitarianism, volunteerism, and entrepreneurship, and has received several lifetime achievement awards. He is the recipient of both the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario, in recognition of “his leadership as an entrepreneur and for his commitment to the arts and to social justice.” He was inducted into the Canadian Film and Television Hall of Fame in 2017. He has also been awarded 5 honorary doctorates.

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Happy Pride!


First to Leave the Party: My Life with Ordinary People… Who Happen to Be Famous 
By Salah Bachir (He/Him)
Published by Signal/Penguin Random House Canada
October 17, 2023
Category: Arts & Entertainment, Biographies & Memoirs
336 Pages, 6 x 9
ISBN 9780771006111
Hardcover $26.95
PUBLISHER’S PAGE: Penguin Random House

Chapters list

A word from Alan Cumming
A word from Atom Egoyan

MARLON BRANDO stops by for a barbecue
ELLA FITZGERALD likes my mom’s kibbe
ELIZABETH TAYLOR tries on my pearls
JESSYE NORMAN makes a pact with me
ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY bewitches, bothers, and bewilders
ARETHA FRANKLIN doesn’t disappoint
EARTHA KITT is not for sale
ORSON WELLES gives a master class
PHYLLIS DILLER’s business plan
PRINCESS MARGARET lights my cigarette
DIAHANN CARROLL makes me break into song
DORIS DAY, my secret love
PAUL NEWMAN and JOANNE WOODWARD: inseparable, incomparable
PRINCESS DIANA shows how it’s done
ANDRÉ LEON TALLEY makes an entrance
BETTE DAVIS towers over us all
DONALD SUTHERLAND: a touch of caviar
CESAR CHAVEZ teaches me a lesson
NORMAN JEWISON tells a story or three
GINGER ROGERS makes a pit stop
STEPHEN SONDHEIM: anyone can whistle
CÉLINE DION doesn’t make the cut
HARVEY MILK sets me free
BEN VEREEN sings me a song
SEAN CONNERY takes it on the chest
JIMMY STEWART writes me a letter
MARY TYLER MOORE shoots up with me
MUHAMMAD ALI tells it like it is
LIBERACE touches me—a lot
MIA FARROW: a flight of grace
PATRICIA NEAL: you really, really would have loved her
BRIAN BEDFORD teaches me stuff
PIERRE TRUDEAU has a file on me
CHRISTOPHER REEVE: sometimes a kiss is just a kiss
MARLENE DIETRICH: we’ll always have Paris
JOHN HUSTON dashes my Ireland fantasy
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER is eager to leave
EDWARD ALBEE: no topic off the table
JOAN RIVERS: Can we really talk?
VAN JOHNSON learns to fly
CELESTE HOLM joins us for an Uncle Vanya
MARGARET ATWOOD is for the birds, literally
MARY WILSON, always supreme
Finding OMAR SHARIF after a sandstorm
LIZA MINNELLI comes through
KEITH HARING does New York
ANDY WARHOL: your signature is just as good as mine
k.d. lang sings at our wedding

Letters & Messages

SOURCE Salah Bachir

Originally published at
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