Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summer Reading at Its Finest!!!!

Back in the saddle with today's BTT:

Celebrities? July 2, 2009
Filed under: Wordpress — --Deb @ 1:06 am

Suggested by Callista83:

Do you read celebrity memoirs? Which ones have you read or do you want to read? Which nonexistent celebrity memoirs would you like to see?

Do I?! I love celebrity memoirs, especially the raunchy ones. The finest one I've ever read, along those lines, is Motley Crue's The Dirt. The boys had a wonderful ghostwriter with the sensitivity not to change lines like "She looked so fucking hot that I wanted to run up to her, tackle her and tear her clothes off" to "She looked amazing in that dress." The book was published in 2002, and each band member gets to tell the tale from his own perspective, with chapters from their various managers and producers occasionally sprinkled in.

Each time someone famous for being wild publishes a memoir, I try to read it. I realized a few weeks ago the reason why I like The Dirt better than all of them. It's because they boys of Motley Crue are, by and large, unrepentant. Oh, sure, they regret many of the things they did while drunk and high. But they don't regret their involvement with drugs in the first place. The message of many other celebrity memoirs is: "I got involved with drugs and/or alcohol at a difficult time in my life, as a means of coping. It cost me a lot. I got sober and never want to go down that road again." The Crue's message? "We got involved with drugs and alcohol because they were a fucking blast. We did lots of stupid shit while high and drunk, and we regret it. We regret the toll it took on those around us. Still, if they ever invent something that's as fun as all of those drugs and won't have the side effects of wrecking everyone's lives, sign us up." So, the tone of the book is different.

A couple of other good celebrity memoirs in a different vein are the books written by Joan Crawford's daughter and also by Bette Davis' daughter. Neither woman ever became famous in her own right, but the tales are still moving. Mommie Dearest was, of course, made into the movie that contains that famous line about the wire hangers. It's in the book, too, but it's more sad than funny. Crawford essentially adopted her children as a PR move and had little interest in them outside of the annual Christmas special. She was mean and abusive and eventually sent them all away when she'd totally lost interest.

Davis was a difficult mother to have, too, but for different reasons. According to her daughter, she was more of an emotional drain than anything. Their relationship was volatile, and contained periods of both closeness and estrangement. I read it shortly after I read Mommie Dearest and was fascinated by the passages where the two tales intersected. Joan Crawford's not the only one, though. Several well-known Hollywood figures meander through the tale. The book also contains an absolutely priceless line: during an argument with her mother over men, Davis yelled, "I love these people who've been married once and think they know it all! What would you know about men? I've had FIVE HUSBANDS!"

Lana Turner's memoir is another good one. I'd actaully nearly forgotten about it, but I discussed it in this post and gave it high marks as an interesting tale of Golden-Era Hollywood. Lillian Gish's autobiography is also an interesting tale of an emerging industry. Gish was the star of the first-ever feature-length film, the much-dissected Birth of a Nation, and talks about the controversy that surrounded it even at release, not just due to the racism in the film, but due to its many innovations in the medium, such as the close-up ("Where are the guy's feet?") and its sheer length ("No one will sit for that long"). She traces its evolution from nickelodeons to theaters, and from a medium no one wanted to be involved with to the medium that became every actor's ultimate goal. And she was there for it all.

As for ones that have not yet been written? I can't think of any that I truly wonder about. I always thought it was a shame that Jacqueline Kennedy died without leaving an account of her life. And with Michael Jackson's recent death, I do feel that we've been left without a way to ever know the entire story, although it is possible that he left us something after all, or that someone else will come forward.

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