A 1954 graduate of Texas Christian University, Ellis Amburn worked as a reporter for Newsweek before going into the book publishing industry where he rose to the position of editor, working for such well-known publishers as Delacorte Press, Coward-McCann, William Morrow. During his career, Amburn was an editor for authors such John le Carré, Belva Plain, Muriel Spark, Joshua Logan and for Jack Kerouac.
Amburn served as editorial director for G. P. Putnam’s Sons and in addition worked as a ghostwriter for Priscilla Presley, Shelley Winters, Peggy Lee and Zsa Zsa Gabor. In 1990, he produced his first biography on fellow Texan Roy Orbison that led to further such books. He is noted for his exhaustive research, even going so far as to live for several weeks at the home of the parents of Orbison’s first wife, Claudette Frady-Orbison. His books have generated controversy at times (such as his biography of Janis Joplin), and he is reviled by many Orbison fans for presenting hearsay as fact.
Amburn lived in High Springs, Florida, outside of Gainesville and in Tifton, Georgia. His papers are held at Texas Christian University.
Ellis Amburn paased away on Saturday, August 18, 2018 after a long illness. His biographies are:
Pearl: The Obsessions and Passions of Janis Joplin (2005) – Warner Books
The Sexiest Man Alive : A Biography of Warren Beatty (2002) -HarperCollins
The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: The Obsessions, Passions, and Courage of Elizabeth Taylor (2000) – HarperCollins
Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac (1998) – St. Martin’s Press
Buddy Holly: A Biography (1995) – St. Martin’s Press
Dark Star: The Roy Orbison Story (1990) – Carol Publishing Group
Olivia de Havilland and the Golden Age of Hollywood (2018) – Lyons Press
Ellis Amburn estate has asked New Haven Publishing Ltd to republish some of his books, the first two being Roy Orbison and Janis Joplin – published in 2020