Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dropped Names

This was one of the dozen books I have read in the last week and probably the cheesiest despite its good reviews. If you have nothing more to offer about your stage and screen career than anecdotes, (few pithy or funny), about the famous people you have met, maybe you don't need to write a book. Not so much a kiss and tell, as a had luncheon and tell.

And seriously, the names of his films went by my eyes like a list of the most mediocre films in the last half century. I am sure he was more a stage actor but still...wow.

I am also sure I would despise this man in real life (as well as reel life). Very few actors do themselves a favor by penning a memoir. Langella's major intention seems to be to paint himself a desirable bed or luncheon (not lunch) partner. The acting thing was just a ruse to get people into his bedroom (or into their dining room).

Who was it that said that no actor's IQ would ever require triple digits?

Ready for the question? What celebrity autobiography was worth reading?

19 comments:

Naomi Johnson said...

The celebrity autobio that I enjoyed - though it wasn't a full bio -- is Audie Murphy's TO HELL AND BACK. The book felt very simple and modest when one considers what he actually did during WW2.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Bill Crider gave it a really good review but even as I was reading his review I was thinking the book just sounded grubby...much like Langella himself. I'll pass.

As for his movies, off the top of my head I can think of DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE (in which he played a despicable character), DRACULA and SHERLOCK HOLMES (in both of which he played the title characters) - we saw him play Dracula on Broadway, and... not a lot since.

Best celebrity autobiographies? Maybe not the same "celebrity" you are looking for, but for an excellent baseball autobiography you can't beat Leo Durocher's NICE GUYS FINISH LAST (with Ed Linn). I also really enjoyed David Niven's THE MOON'S A BALLOON. One more interesting one - CALL ME ANNA: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF PATTY DUKE.

Jeff M.

Jerry House said...

Coincidently, I was discussing name-dropping just yesterday over lunch with Albert Schweitzer, Joan of Arc, Bill Crider, and Paris Hilton.

Celebrity tell-alls don't really interest me, but, then, neither do most celebrities. I do like to read memoirs by some of my favorite genre writers -- Asimov, Frederik Pohl, Frank Gruber, etc.

Back in the late Seventies, the people I was working with were excited about Evelyn Keyes' steamy autobio. Never appealed to me.

George said...

Alec Guinness. Guinness wrote three volumes of a best-selling autobiography, beginning with Blessings in Disguise in 1985, followed by My Name Escapes Me in 1996, and A Positively Final Appearance in 1999. He recorded each of them as an audiobook. Well worth reading or listening to.

Deb said...

I second the David Niven autobiographies, especially THE MOON'S A BALLOON, but also BRING ON THE EMPTY HORSES. Witty and light-hearted but not frivolous, with some sad and serious stuff in them too.

I thought Lauren Bacall's first autobiography, BY MYSELF, was pretty good. Subsequent ones less so, however.

Joe said...

Dozens of books in the last week! My heavens sakes alive. I do good to read two books in a week and they have to be short books. I envy you.

Mike Dennis said...

The Ray Charles autobio, BROTHER RAY (1978)

Charles Gramlich said...

And yet, for that very reason it is likely to sell

pattinase (abbott) said...

An exaggeration but I have also been bed-rested for ten days.
Audie was in a separate category, I think. They don't make them like him anymore.
The Moon is a Balloon was wonderful, wasn't it? I can scarcely remember it though.
My big exception here is TIMEBENDS by Arthur Miller, because he told of the times more than himself.

Bill Crider said...

The David Niven books are good ones. And of course I enjoyed Langella's.

Todd Mason said...

Inasmuch as I just did Bruce Jay Friedman's LUCKY BRUCE for FFB, I'll say I can certainly think of one. I'm not sure they don't Make 'em like Murphy any longer...there have been lots of heralded (and I'm sure unheralded) acts of bravery since (restricting ourselves to the military at the moment, that didn't even require killing an enemy squadron.

I'm not sure what anyone might've expected from Langella, who is indeed a minor talent at best...Bill approached the book for what it was likely to be. The only good film I've seen him in so far has been STARDOM (oddly enough), where his role was minor and easy enough for him, to judge by his public persona, as he was playing a pompous ass.

Gerard said...

The only celebrity memoir I recall reading is Rodney Dangerfield's.

Last week, I had a bad experience. I went to a nude beach. They kicked me out. They told me it's impolite to point.

I tell ya one thing, my wife keeps me in line. No matter how many guys are ahead of me.

My wife and I, we both love Las Vegas. She likes to play the slots, and I like to play the sluts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Gerard. Somehow I missed Rodney's book - It's not easy bein' me : a lifetime of no respect but plenty of sex and drugs.

Gotta love Rodney.

Jeff M.

Al Tucher said...

I'm almost afraid to say that I enjoyed the Langella book. It's exactly what I expected and yet surprising in its details. I thought he earned some credibility by writing about his own shortcomings as well.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am probably cantankerous due to my pain right now.

Al Tucher said...

You're entitled, Patti!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Al. If I had read it a month from now I might have loved it. Dyspepsia would be gone.

Cap'n Bob said...

I read Mickey Mantle's ALL MY OCTOBERS (IIRC)and enjoyed it tremendously. I don't often read autobios but when I do I usually feel like I'm getting a whitewashed version of the truth.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Seems like he wasn't a very nice man from what I hear. Well, few are, I guess.