Pasatiempo - - Book Reviews -

Those MGM ladies

Les­lie Caron’s Thank Heaven: A Mem­oir is the lat­est in a string of au­to­bi­ogra­phies writ­ten (or co-writ­ten) by women who once ruled the back lot of MGM. Here’s a par­tial list of those au­to­bi­ogra­phies — many of which are out of print, but most of which you can still track down.

Ec­stasy and Me: My Life as a Woman

by Hedy La­marr (Fawcett Crest, 1967). The woman who dis­played the first on-screen or­gasm later said that much of the spicy con­tent of her mem­oir was made up by her ghost­writer. Maybe that’s what makes it such juicy read­ing.

by Ann Miller (Dou­ble­day, 1972). Most peo­ple for­get that the bouncy brunette tap dancer wrote her life story about the same time she was danc­ing on the top of Camp­bell’s Soup cans in com­mer­cials.

Miller’s High Life

Lana: The Lady, the Leg­end, the Truth

by Lana Turner (Dut­ton, 1982). Prob­a­bly more leg­end than truth by the blond sex god­dess who once said, “My life has been a se­ries of emer­gen­cies.”

(Put­nam, 1982). The goody two-shoes sweet­heart of Van John­son and Peter Law­ford (on-screen) told al­most all in this self­ti­tled au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, though some crit­ics sug­gested she didn’t go far enough in dish­ing the dirt.

June Allyson

The Girl Next Door and How She Grew

by Jane Pow­ell (William Mor­row, 1988). She did dish the dirt, and it seems she didn’t get many happy breaks in her life.

by Ava Gard­ner (Ban­tam, 1990). It’s self-dep­re­cat­ing and easy-to-read, but some fans/his­to­ri­ans claim she pulled her punches. Her de­fin­i­tive bi­og­ra­phy re­mains Lee Server’s Love Is Noth­ing.

Ava: My Story

The Mil­lion Dol­lar Mer­maid: An Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy

by Es­therWil­liams (Si­mon & Schus­ter, 1999). Every­one loved this one, since the swim­ming bal­le­rina of Metro in­cluded sex, nu­dity, ex­hi­bi­tion­ism, and cross-dress­ing ( Jeff Chan­dler in drag) in her mem­oir.

Debbie Reynolds, Cyd Charisse, Janet Leigh, and Katharine Hep­burn— all MGM play­ers at one time— also wrote au­to­bi­ogra­phies. Sadly, Judy Gar­land, Greta Garbo, and El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor did not. Maybe Liz still will.

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