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.
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.