Maybe the legal department was worried about law-suits. Or maybe Eddie just wanted to preserve as much of his old nice-guy...


EDDIE: My Life, My Loves

Maybe the legal department was worried about law-suits. Or maybe Eddie just wanted to preserve as much of his old nice-guy appeal as possible. Whatever the reason, except for some glimpses of a truly foul Richard Burton, this memoir isn't the nasty gossip-lest that it was once rumored to be: Liz doesn't come off all that badly, ditto Debbie, and the dominating tone is more self-deprecating woe (""a lifetime of mistakes"") than anything else. It all started so brightly: a poor, skinny Bronx-Jewish kid with a loving, quotable mother (and a lousy father), little Eddie had that big voice from the start--so he wound up on a kiddie-radio show, with bands at 17 (a moment in the spotlight, then years of nightclub/Grossinger's apprenticeship), and Eddie Cantor's protÉgÉ at 21. (Naive Fisher was shocked to learn of Cantor's philanderings, of Crosby's coldness.) By the early 1950s he had hit records, stardom he wasn't ready for, and (unbeknownst) an amphetamine addiction--thanks to his two ""Svengalis"": manager Milton Blackstone and now-famous Dr. Feelgood Max Jacobsen. (Deferring to these father figures, ""I never stopped to think that I couldn't remain a boy forever."") As for his love-life, relatively innocent Eddie deflected a gentle pass from Noel Coward, bloomed briefly with ""stimulating"" Marlene Dietrich, and wound up married to film-teen supreme Debbie Reynolds largely against his will: ""I had to live up to my image. . . a nice boy does not walk out on a nice girl."" But long before pal Mike Todd's wife Liz Taylor became a widow, the marriage was in trouble: Debbie ""just wasn't interested"" in the bedroom; only her pregnancies and PR-manipulations kept them together. So the public uproar over the ""homewrecking"" Liz/Eddie passion was a bad joke--and just one of Eddie's headaches when he gave up his own career to play love-obsessed nursemaid to the ill, insecure superstar. (""Get me my lip gloss,"" Liz said in near-coma, just before being wheeled into the emergency room.) Still, though suicidal, perhaps hooked on Seconal, and ego-read--""Get me My Fair Lady,"" she said, after Audrey H. won the part--Liz was at least faithful. (Max Lerner ""fell in love with Elizabeth. But that was as far as it went. . . ."" See Kitty Kelley, p. 1136, for Lerner's version.) Then: Burton--who wanted superstardom (""I'm going to use her, no-talent Hollywood nothing"")--and the whole, roughly familiar mess that ends, in Eddie's version, with him rejecting her. And was there life after Liz? Well, sort of. Affairs with Judy Garland, Maria Schell, Alain Delon's wife, Merle Oberon, and un-famous others. Quasi-shotgun-marriage to Connie Stevens (who, unlike Debbie, was nice about child custody). Declining career, near-fatal drug addiction ($200,000 on cocaine in three months), bankruptcy, hookers, impotence, an ugly onstage scene with Buddy Hackett, Swiss health clinics. And, though Eddie ends up on a note of recovery, new love, and self-awareness, he never explains how--or even, really, if--he has changed his self-destructive, immature ways. A very depressing book, then-but, with that celluloid cast and an efficient ghosting by Burton Beals (fully credited), it's easily the year's most surefire celeb memoir.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1981