Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Sad Tale of Tatum

Well, I finished the first of my library books last night. The pitifully titled A Paper Life, by Tatum O'Neal, was an engrossing, fast read. I remembered her primarily as the woman on "Sex in the City" who wouldn't reimburse Carrie for the Manolos that got stolen at her baby-welcome party, so it was interesting to me to learn about her early career, and how she was the youngest Academy Award winner ever.

Her private life, however, was devastating. Both her father, Ryan O'Neal, and her husband, tennis player John McEnroe, were controlling, tempermental, abusive, jealous men. Since she was very young when she got married, she basically went from one to the other. It's become a truism that childhood stardom ruins the child for life. People cite Danny Bonaduce and Gary Coleman as prime examples. But in Tatum's case, her movie work was actually a positive influence: it got her away from her family, put her in contact with more sympathetic adults, and gave her some sense of self-worth. You can, however, feel her own sense of failed potential, as her childhood success didn't carry over to her adult years.

Tatum's book ends on a positive note. She says that she has worked hard to come to some sort of peace with her father, her ex-husband and her children, and that she is now clean and sober. IMDB shows her hard at work, too, mostly in television shows.

But the thing about celebrity autobiographies is that the final chapter hasn't yet been written. Danny Bonaduce's book ended much the same way, yet I recently saw a promo for a reality series that has him coming to terms -- yet again -- with his substance abuse problems. The Motley Crue book ends with three of the four original band members in stable relationships (all except Tommy). I don't know what happened to Nikki Sixx, but I did see that Mick Mars' girlfriend from the end of that book is suing him, and the girl with Vince on "Remaking Vince Neil" was definitely not the same woman he married towards the end of the book.

Yet after reading all this, I'm rooting for Tatum. I hope she goes on to some kind of success. Only time will tell, I guess.

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