The pleasant, humor-filled, if bland, life story of Cotten, who, being a gentleman, upsets no apple carts, spills no beans. Cotten (1905-) states in his Foreword that he is thankful for ""the clouded memory that. . .transforms tears into laughter and. . .that often solidifies itself into a crystal ball of invention."" So warned, the reader can speed through the story of an actor who, although admitting to extramarital affairs during his first marriage (his wife died, then he married Patricia Medina, his present wife), sees both himself and his world through decidedly pink spectacles. He is loyal to his friends, speaking particularly warmly of David Selznik, for whom he made Duel in the Sun, and Orson Welles, who gave Cotten his first big break by casting him in Citizen Kane. Cotten seems to have gotten along well even with gossip doyennes Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons. Cotten tells here of his early show-business career, beginning with private acting lessons financed by his Uncle Benny (Cotten: ""Private acting instruction should be prohibited by law"" since an actor cannot communicate with an empty room); moving on to selling homemade potato salad in Florida while an ad salesman for the Miami Herald, then on to New York as dogrobber for David Belasco, and then to Welles' history-making Mercury Theatre. Cotten zoomed to the top after Citizen Kane with such films as Shadow of a Doubt (he played the murderous uncle), The Farmer's Daughter, and Niagara. Along the way here he tells anecdotes of Alfred Hitchcock, Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman and others. He concludes by mentioning his 1981 heart attack and stroke from which he is still, apparently, recovering. Although this memoir contains no scandal, no inside stories and little introspection, it tells a delightful story such as one heard from a favorite uncle.
Pub Date: May 5, 1987
Page Count: -
Publisher: Mercury--dist. by Kampmann (9 East 40 St., New York, NY 10016)