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Memoirs of actors and actresses


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I see that Sally Field has a best selling memoir out, and was wondering if anyone knows which memoir is the best of the bunch in terms of actors and actresses for the classic actors. I'm talking about a memoir written by that person, not by some fan or journalist (use of a ghostwriter OK though).

 

So who spilled the beans the best.

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There's "Lauren Bacall: By Myself," published in 1978. She writes about her relationship with Bogart (and his death from cancer in 1957), her disastrous involvement with Frank Sinatra, her second marriage to Jason Robards and her triumphs on Broadway.

Image result for lauren bacall by myself

She updated the memoir in 2005 with "Lauren Bacall: By Myself...And Then Some."

Image result for lauren bacall by myself

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Although she isn't a classic star, Candice Bergen -- a certified television great who returns Thursday night in a rebooted "Murphy Brown" series on CBS -- wrote two brutally honest memoirs.

The first had the best-ever title: "Knock Wood" -- the story of her years growing up in the same household with her ventriloquist-father Edgar Bergen's famous dummies, including Charlie McCarthy (Charlie had a bigger bedroom). It was published in 1984.

The second -- "A Fine Romance," issued in 2015 -- focused on her difficult marriage to the French film director Louis Malle (1932-1995), their daughter Chloé (who became the social editor at Vogue magazine) and the success of "Murphy Brown." In the book, Bergen declared that even she wanted to be her formidable TV character:

“People would credit me with Murphy Brown’s intelligence and wit, which were of course not mine. I envied Murphy’s supreme self-confidence. I loved that she’d been able to drink guys under the table.” 

Image result for candice bergen murphy brown 2018

 

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4 hours ago, jakeem said:

There's "Lauren Bacall: By Myself," published in 1978. She writes about her relationship with Bogart (and his death from cancer in 1957), her disastrous involvement with Frank Sinatra, her second marriage to Jason Robards and her triumphs on Broadway.

Image result for lauren bacall by myself

She updated the memoir in 2005 with "Lauren Bacall: By Myself...And Then Some."

She also published a book called "Now" in the 1990s.

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3 hours ago, jakeem said:

Although she isn't a classic star, Candice Bergen -- a certified television great who returns Thursday night in a rebooted "Murphy Brown" series on CBS -- wrote two brutally honest memoirs.

The first had the best-ever title: "Knock Wood" -- the story of her years growing up in the same household with her ventriloquist-father Edgar Bergen's famous dummies, including Charlie McCarthy (Charlie had a bigger bedroom). It was published in 1984.

The second -- "A Fine Romance," issued in 2015 -- focused on her difficult marriage to the French film director Louis Malle (1932-1995), their daughter Chloé (who became the social editor at Vogue magazine) and the success of "Murphy Brown." In the book, Bergen declared that even she wanted to be her formidable TV character:

“People would credit me with Murphy Brown’s intelligence and wit, which were of course not mine. I envied Murphy’s supreme self-confidence. I loved that she’d been able to drink guys under the table.” 

Image result for candice bergen murphy brown 2018

 

Looking forward to the reboot/continuation. Hope it's as big a hit as the original series. She definitely is one of TV's great actresses.

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7 hours ago, MovieMadness said:

I see that Sally Field has a best selling memoir out, and was wondering if anyone knows which memoir is the best of the bunch in terms of actors and actresses for the classic actors.

Glad you specified classic actors, so we can dispense with tell-alls from "adult film stars."

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I liked Songs My Mother Taught Me by Marlon Brando, Cagney On Cagney by James Cagney, The Elephant to Hollywood by Michael Caine, But Enough About Me by Burt Reynolds, and The Ragman's Son by Kirk Douglas.

Reynolds isn't exactly a classic era movie star, but he came in at the tail-end of the studio system, and there's some stuff about his interactions with stars from that period.

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Other ones I enjoyed--

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 8.04.24 AM.jpg

Swanson on Swanson. The chapter where she talks about having an abortion and still being haunted by it years later is outstanding.

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 8.04.53 AM.jpg

I really loved this book. It focuses more on 70s filmmaking. When she died her obituary in the L.A. Times said she was "unrepentant."

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8 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 8.04.53 AM.jpg

I really loved this book. It focuses more on 70s filmmaking. When she died her obituary in the L.A. Times said she was "unrepentant."

Julia Phillips (1944-2002) was the first female producer to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. She shared it with her then-husband Michael Phillips and the sometime actor Tony Bill for "The Sting" (1973).

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4 minutes ago, jakeem said:

Julia Phillips (1944-2002) was the first female producer to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. She shared it with her then-husband Michael Phillips and the sometime actor Tony Bill for "The Sting" (1973).

Yes. A large section of the book is devoted to the making of THE STING and also the winning of the Oscar. Phillips had a strong personality which comes through in her writing. 

On one page she says Ryan O'Neal liked to pontificate at parties. She really had a way of cutting people down to size. She didn't mince words!

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Just now, TopBilled said:

Yes. A large section of the book is devoted to the making of THE STING and also the winning of the Oscar. Phillips had a strong personality which comes through in her writing. 

On one page she says Ryan O'Neal liked to pontificate at parties. She really had a way of cutting people down to size. She didn't mince words!

But it contributed to her undoing, as suggested by the title of her book.

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6 minutes ago, jakeem said:

But it contributed to her undoing, as suggested by the title of her book.

If you read the book, you will see the value she places in telling the world the truth, in not regretting anything. 

My theory-- the phoniness of Hollywood disturbed her and she was on a lifelong mission to attack it. She's very heroic in that sense. The book is must-read. Especially for people interested in Hollywood moviemaking during the 70s.

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I really liked the books by Lauren Bacall, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, and Marlon Brando mentioned above.

Some others that are well worth reading:

  • Harpo Speaks! by, who else, the "silent" Marx Brother.  Harpo seems exactly like you'd want him to be -- a good-natured family man who happened to be very funny as well.  He's the kind of guy who had so much fun with his kids one Christmas that they left up their tree all year.  Great history of his entire career, from boyhood vaudeville days on the road with his brothers and their mom, Minnie, to his Hollywood glory days.
  • The Moon's A Balloon and Bring On The Empty Horses by David Niven.  These have to be the wittiest Hollywood memoirs out there.  Niven has scores of great stories to tell (such as the one about what he and his pal Errol Flynn did after their friend John Barrymore died) -- and he knows how to tell them.
  • An Open Book by John Huston.  The great director lived life to the fullest and wrote all about it in this book.  Outside of the Hollywood stories, which are great, Huston had an interesting life as a painter and boxer before he started writing for the movies, and his World War II adventures making documentaries are also worth hearing about.  Besides being a close friend of many Hollywood greats (Olivia DeHavilland, Bogart, Orson Welles, as well as Hemingway), Huston is a very interesting character himself and a good writer, which adds up to a great book.
  • Me and The Making of the African Queen: Or How I went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall, and Huston and almost lost my mind by Katharine Hepburn.  Me is Kate's life story told in her own voice, just as you'd expect -- honest and outspoken, but only on her own terms.  Her African Queen book is a very short, very entertaining little book about the trials of making that great movie in the challenging African environment.
  • My Autobiography by Charles Chaplin.  I haven't read this for a long, long time, back when I was a kid, but I remember liking it -- although not as much as the more gossipy book by his son, Charles Jr.  I think I'd probably like the old man's book more now, if for no other reason than to hear directly from one of the greatest and earliest film-making geniuses.
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8 minutes ago, darrylfxanax said:

I really enjoyed reading Lessons in Becoming Myself by Ellen Burstyn.  I like star memoirs and hers always comes to mind as a well-written favorite.

ellwen.png

Does she talk about how she went through various name changes? She was originally Edna Rae Gillooly. I can see how that might require a stage name. Then she became Ellen MacRae (which I assume she chose so she could keep her middle name). She's billed as Ellen MacRae in many TV series she did in the 1960s. Then after she married Neil Burstyn, she changed her name again.

Wouldn't she truly become herself again if she became Edna Rae Gillooly again?

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26 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Does she talk about how she went through various name changes? She was originally Edna Rae Gillooly. I can see how that might require a stage name. Then she became Ellen MacRae (which I assume she chose so she could keep her middle name). She's billed as Ellen MacRae in many TV series she did in the 1960s. Then after she married Neil Burstyn, she changed her name again.

Wouldn't she truly become herself again if she became Edna Rae Gillooly again?

That was the first thing that crossed my mind, too. I remember seeing an old episode of "The Time Tunnel" about the volcanic eruption on the island of Krakatoa in 1883. She appeared in the episode (with series star James Darren, pictured below), billed as Ellen McRae.

Image result for ellen burstyn the time tunnel

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2 minutes ago, jakeem said:

That was the first thing that crossed my mind, too. I remember seeing an old episode of "The Time Tunnel" about the volcanic eruption on the island of Krakatoa in 1883. She appeared in the episode (with series star James Darren, pictured below), billed as Ellen McRae.

Image result for ellen burstyn the time tunnel

Some of these performers are kind of phony, trying to "find themselves" and writing books about finding themselves like they've uncovered the mysteries of life. But yet they can't seem to go back to their roots and look at the foundation of who they are and how they started in life. It's peculiar in my opinion. She's a fantastic actress but she seems like a construct to me, not a real person. Her persona is as fabricated as the way she structures her performances.

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12 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Some of these performers are kind of phony, trying to "find themselves" and writing books about finding themselves like they've uncovered the mysteries of life. But yet they can't seem to go back to their roots and look at the foundation of who they are and how they started in life. It's peculiar in my opinion. She's a fantastic actress but she seems like a construct to me, not a real person. Her persona is as fabricated as the way she structures her performances.

Hey, it takes an exceptional actress to receive a Primetime Emmy nomination for about 14 seconds of screen time!

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3 minutes ago, jakeem said:

Hey, it takes an exceptional actress to receive a Primetime Emmy nomination for about 14 seconds of screen time!

I guess. She's a talented actress. Nothing against her personally. But when these stars go all new age or dabble in eastern philosophy then act like they can bring enlightenment to others without acknowledging the full truth about themselves, I find it a little silly. My opinion.

*****

There's a wonderful episode of The Lucy Show where Lucille Ball's character complains about a loud neighbor named Mrs. Goldaper. This was an inside joke, because Ball's husband Gary Morton was born Morton Goldaper. So she was legally Lucille Goldaper.

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2 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

I guess. She's a talented actress. Nothing against her personally. But when these stars go all new age or dabble in eastern philosophy then act like they can bring enlightenment to others without acknowledging the full truth about themselves, I find it a little silly. My opinion.

It hasn't hurt Shirley MacLaine!

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10 minutes ago, jakeem said:

It hasn't hurt Shirley MacLaine!

Actually I wouldn't be surprised if Burstyn's book wasn't inspired by MacLaine's writings. 

They're basically writing books about self-actualization. But their ego as a star gets in the way, so it becomes about them and their journey, and how this path to enlightenment can save others too. Much of it is rubbish. But if they enjoy writing such a book and making money off it, then they feel successful I suppose.

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19 hours ago, BingFan said:
  • Me and The Making of the African Queen: Or How I went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall, and Huston and almost lost my mind by Katharine Hepburn.  Me is Kate's life story told in her own voice, just as you'd expect -- honest and outspoken, but only on her own terms.  Her African Queen book is a very short, very entertaining little book about the trials of making that great movie in the challenging African environment.

Haha I've bought at least 10 copies of that book at thrift sales-all to give away! I think it's a quick hilarious read and gives you an idea what "filming on location" can mean. Actors make their job seem glamorous & high paying, this book gives some pause.

I almost exclusively read non fiction/biographies and really enjoy "memoirs/autobiographies" when written well.

Just recently finished Charlotte Chandler's fantastic Bette Davis Biography THE GIRL WHO WALKED HOME ALONE. Much (89%) of the book was interviewed quotes of Davis', so it truly feels like you are hearing her "voice"

Other Favorites:

Meredith Willson's AND THERE I STOOD WITH MY PICCOLO, EGGS I HAVE LAID and BUT HE DOESN'T KNOW THE TERRITORY

Similarly, everything written by Carrie Fisher is fantastic, especially the book about Billie's conception!

Julie Andrews' HOME (Covers her rise to stardom as child prodigy...there should be a Pt2 soon)

William Shatner's UP TIL NOW is a hilarious recounting of his career, much better than any of his other books (except the very good Nimoy one) liked it so much had mine autographed!

Jerry Lewis' recently published memoir of his career with Dean Martin, DEAN & ME

Sidney Poitier's MEASURE OF A MAN (one of my favorite books-fascinating life, well written, no ghostwriter)

A few stinkers: CAGNEY ON CAGNEY, SHIRLEY TEMPLE and CAPRA - all too self congratulatory. Must be read with a few grains of salt.

Debbie Reynold's last book UNSINKABLE was her best. Earlier books were too depressing focusing on how often she was taken advantage of....you just wanted to scream.

 

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