An­jel­ica Hus­ton’s mem­oir re­counts youth un­like any other

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - AN­DREA BAIL­LIE

TORONTO — Academy Award­win­ning ac­tress An­jel­ica Hus­ton says she owes a debt of grat­i­tude to … a pen­cil?

True, it’s not the type of shout-out usu­ally found in the ac­knowl­edg­ments sec­tion of a book, but the Prizzi’s Honor star is un­abashed in her praise for the writ­ing in­stru­ment she used to cre­ate her new mem­oir, A Story Lately Told: Com­ing of Age in Ire­land, Lon­don, and New York.

“The Pa­per Mate Sharpwrite­r No. 2. A won­der­ful pen­cil,” Hus­ton, 62, said re­cently. “It’s just a beau­ti­fully cre­ated ob­ject. It works re­ally, re­ally well. I didn’t grow up typ­ing, to tell you the truth. … I like the flow of brain to hand.”

In­deed, the ac­tress says the mem­oir it­self evolved or­gan­i­cally af­ter a pe­riod of self-re­flec­tion fol­low­ing the 2008 death of her hus­band, sculp­tor Robert Gra­ham.

“I was writ­ing for my­self any­way and I thought, well, maybe this is a good time. So that’s sort of how it ini­tially came about.”

The ac­tress — the daugh­ter of leg­endary film di­rec­tor John Hus­ton and his fourth wife, bal­le­rina En­rica (Ricki) Soma — soon found she had a lot to say. So much, in fact, that her ed­i­tor at Scrib­ner (Si­mon & Schus­ter) de­cided that she’d need two vol­umes to tell her story.

A Story Lately Told chron­i­cles Hus­ton’s e a rly life in Ire­land, her teen years mod­el­ling in swing­ing Lon­don and — af­ter her mother died in a car ac­ci­dent in 1969 — a stint in New York City liv­ing at the Chelsea Ho­tel with her much-older pho­tog­ra­pher boyfriend Bob Richard­son.

John Hus­ton looms large in the book, which opens with a re­mark­able anec­dote about news of his daugh­ter’s birth reach­ing him in the Bel­gian Congo on the set of The African Queen, where Katharine Hep­burn urged him to share the con­tents of a tele­gram herald­ing the news.

The di­rec­tor had a colour­ful life — he was called the “ec­cen­tric’s ec­cen­tric” by ac­tor Paul Newman — and was a boxer, a Lothario and a gam­bler. He was away work­ing on films for long stints of Hus­ton’s childhood.

“There’s a line that comes up a lot around my fa­ther,” she said. “Peo­ple re­fer to him as Hem­ing­way-es­que. I think he re­ally mer­its a de­scrip­tion of his own. He was, yes, larger than life, an ad­ven­turer, a hunter, a Re­nais­sance man. I think it’s very easy to come up with com­par­isons to other peo­ple, but he was very much him­self. He was an orig­i­nal.”

De­spite a four-decade film ca­reer that has earned her a host of hon­ours, Hus­ton says she was ner­vous about her mem­oir, call­ing the pos­i­tive re­views “thrilling.”

“You hope peo­ple will ap­prove, but ba­si­cally if they don’t, it’s not about a movie, it’s about you,” she said.

An­jel­ica Hus­ton

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