CHOICE PEOPLE: The Greats, Near-Greats, and Ingrates I Have Known by A. E. Hotchner

CHOICE PEOPLE: The Greats, Near-Greats, and Ingrates I Have Known

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A name-dropping grab-bag from Hotchner's assorted careers as playwright, Hemingway sidekick, and freelance journalist--with remembered anecdotes, recycled interviews, autobiographical digressions. . . and constant emphasis on the rapport between ""Hotch"" and the celebs he has courted. In the opening chapter Hotchner, just back in the US after WW II, is hired by Cosmopolitan to solicit stories from reclusive biggies--like Dorothy Parker and Edna Ferber, both suffering from writer's block: ""I had expected confident goddesses in their literate towers. . . but instead I had encountered two insecure women for whom, inexplicably, I was a welcome listening post."" Soon, after recalling a stagey WW II encounter with Clark Gable (""heartbroken and weeping""), Hotchner is meeting Papa down in Cuba--""tender heart and nothing of the bear but his skin."" Subsequent chapters, though roughly chronological, focus with similar sentimentality on famous friends, acquaintances, and interview-subjects: Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper facing death (""If only Coops could exchange his cancer for the years of living that remained in Ernest but which he was hell-bent on rejecting by suicide""); the ""vulnerable"" underside of Anthony Quinn, of interview-ees Candy Bergen, Catherine Deneuve, Butt Reynolds, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Hutton. And, in the unabashed Me-and-My-Celebrity-Friend department, there's Hotchner helping pal Paul Newman with that salad-dressing. (""We broke open a head of lettuce and sprinkled on the dressing and our whoops and hollers could be heard for miles around."") A few of the Famous do receive harsh words, of course: 1940s drinking-chum J. D. Salinger was arrogant, humorless; Rod Steiger, star of a Hotchner play, was ""disdainful and abusive""; Lee Marvin got drunk and rowdy at the White House. And there's a buoyantly self-congratulatory chapter about Hotchner's successful, self-lawyered defense against a lawsuit (over an ""unsatisfactory"" manuscript) by Random House. But for the most part this disjointed potpourri of anecdotes and old interviews has a flat, fawning sameness about it--while small factual errors along the way don't inspire much confidence in Hotchner's proclaimed powers of total recall. Okay browsing for the People audience--but hardly choice.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1984
Publisher: Morrow