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Favorite Actor Autobiographies


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I've only read Cagney by Cagney (come to think of it, I'm not sure if "by Cagney" is part of the title or not) and Memoirs of a Professional Cad by George Sanders.

 

I read the latter while I was at Harvard Summer School; their library system has everything, and I'm not willing to pay for this very rare book. I absolutely love Memoirs. Very witty and literate. It's also a little guarded, but it does reveal some of Sanders's complexity and difficulty finding contentment. At one point, he says, "I invariably play myself," but at another point, he refers to his screen persona as a "mask." He sounded more serious when he wrote the latter.

 

Cagney's autobio was funny and interesting. I haven't read it in a long time. I started to read Katherine Hepburn's book about making The African Queen, but I found it hard to follow her train of thought.

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Cagney's autobiography was ghost-written by John McCabe, I think. It's not bad but Sanders' book is hilarious. When he was discussing how he'd hole himself up in his workshop in a separate residence from Zsa Zsa, I was splitting with laughter. In fact, I think I laughed my way through the whole book. Very witty (but hugely troubled) man that fellow but there were some pertinent observations about actors and acting and the whole film industry in general. He liked to eat more than anything else. Memoirs is certainly one of the better, and more geniune, autobiographies, I think.

 

Flynn's My Wicked Wicked Ways is one of the most enjoyable but I'd rate it as an inspired novel more than an autobiography.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The most entertaining autobiography I ever read was Pola Negri's "Memoirs of a Star." It's a hard book to come by, but it's fascinating. She led such an interesting life. Going from poverty in Poland to international superstardom to a quiet retirement in New Mexico of all places. Larry, a frequent contributor here on the boards knew her, and said once that she had a lot of help with the book from a ghostwriter, but it's still a great read.

 

Another one I really enjoyed was Lucille Ball's "Love, Lucy." It was published about eight or ten years ago. It was actually a series of tape recordings that Lucy did in preparation for an autobiography, but somewhere along the way the project was forgotten. However, a secretary had transcribed these tapes, and the transcriptions were found lost in a file cabinet in Lucy's lawyer's office years after her death. I haven't read it since it came out, but I remember it being a very enjoyable book.

 

After reading "Kate, Remembered," I picked up a copy of Hepburn's "Me," which I've never read, even though it's a very popular "star" autobiography. I plan on reading it soon. Has anyone else read it, and have any opinions on it?

 

And has anyone ever read Lana Turner's autobiography? I tried reading it, and only got through the first couple of chapters. I didn't like it at all, even though I'm a big fan of Turner's. Does anyone have any thoughts on her book?

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Bette Davis' books with Whitney Stine were entertaining, especially I'd Love to Kiss You.... They're not strictly autobiography, but a record of his converstions with her over the years. They retain the flavor of her speech and thoughts.

 

I also enjoyed Marlene Dietrich's memoirs, even though they were more a collection of her thoughts on various topics instead of straight autobiography.

 

And Tallulah Bankheads was probably one of the most honest ones I've read. It wasn't a sleazy tell-all, (which it might have been)but she was very straight about the fact that her reputation wasn't too far off the truth.

 

I've heard Gloria Swanson's was really good and I've been looking for a copy.

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i really liked Lauren Bacall's By Myself and Then Some. it was well written and i learned a lot about what she went through to become an actress and finally get on the stage.

 

i also have been wanting to read Me by Katharine Hepburn but i need to get a copy.

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Thanks for the info about Sanders, I'll be ordering that one from the library for certain. I read Lana's and quite enjoyed it. Also, "Me" by Kate Hepburn.

 

If you have time to waste and want to read a real comedy, read Eddy Fisher's book (forget the name right now). It is totaly obnoxious and self-centered - a real HOOT!!!

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Marion Davies' autobiography was extremely entertaining, though there were some facts that she was incorrect on (but I think that happens with a lot of actor bios). Even though she isn't as well known today as other stars of her era, Marion was such a big part of Hollywood for a long time and had so many great stories to tell about all the stars back then. The book also has quite a lot of fun candid photos and there's a great one of her dancing the tango with Rudolph Valentino.

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I liked Me by Katharine Hepburn because when I read it I could hear her speaking it in my head. She wrote just like she talked.

 

Myrna Loy Being and Becoming is a lovely book. It made me love Myrna even more than I already did.

 

Yes, I Can by Sammy Davis, Jr. is fun, racy, and inspiring.

 

Life's a Banquet by Rosalind Russell is full of funny stories by Roz.

 

Those 4 are probably my favorites.

 

Sandy K

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Cagney by Cagney was in fact ghost written by John McCabe. He wrote another Cagney book about 2 years ago. It is based on his friendship with Cagney and all there interviews over the years. It is really a great book. I thought I knew almost everything about Cagney but I have to say I learned alot more .uld read Another good Cagney book is by Patrick McGilliand it is called "Cagney, Actor as Aueter". That really delves into his career and films.

 

 

 

Sinatra the Life (hence my screen name LOL )

My Wicked Wicked Ways ( but as someone posted it is mostly fiction but entertaining fiction. Leave it too Flynn LOL )

Both Lauren Bacall Books

Shelly Winters book .

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  • 2 months later...

David Niven's "The Moon's A Balloon" and "Bring On The Empty Horses". He's such a good story teller. It seems like he knew everybody. Also, recently read Maureen O'Hara's "Tis Herself". She sure had some hard times. The most interesting thing that I got was what a mean SOB John Ford could be yet they carried their friendship a long time.

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Wow! What fun read everybody's lists. Sanders' sounds like great fun - I'll have to look for it at the library. As a teenager I had to read Flynn's "My Wicked, Wicked Ways" - the title was irresistable and it was satisfyingly scandalous. Shelley Winters' are fun reading, too, for her amorous adventures. I keep thinking I'll pick up Shirley MacLean's books some time, too, and check out about her and Mitchum, among (many, it seems) others.

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  • 8 months later...

Two-way tie between 'Tis Herself by O'Hara and Tallulah by Tallulah Bankhead. They are both delicious in their way. O'Hara's voice is unbelievably fresh and unaffected, without phony piousness, and she manages to be fun and lively without smearing anyone or being cheap. Tallulah wrote her memoirs in the late 50's, and so was a lot more constrained in what she could say. But her literary skill and wit were amazing. She could have been a writer.*

 

Also liked: Ginger, My Story by Ginger Rogers and Tab Hunter, Confidential by Tab Hunter.

 

 

*Tallulah had an uncredited ghost writer, but most of Tallulah was her own work, which she dictated to a tape recorder.

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Egotistical??? I don't know what those Amazon customers were reading, but it couldn't have been the book I read. Actually, it seemed to me that O'Hara put up with a lot of malarkey that other female actors of her time wouldn't have. From her men, her directors, etc.

 

In any case, I adore her.

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Maureen O' Hara is my all time favorite Actress, so naturally I don't feel that way, and she certainly doesn't come over that way to me in the book.

 

Maureen also does the audio commentary on the "Collectors Edition " of " Rio Grande ", again on Amazon two or three reviewers felt that she is a little bit " too full of herself " in her comments. Outside of having nice things to say about Wayne and a few other cast members, she is gining out the Nationality background of the players, especially if there are Irish.

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