NAME DROPPING by Alan King

NAME DROPPING

The Life and Lies of Alan King
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Comedian-actor-producer King tries his hand as philosopher- king with the guidance of Amanuensis to the Stars Chase (Josephine: The Hungry Heart, with Jean-Claude Baker, 1994, etc.). They produce the prototypical showbiz autobiography: not a lot of depth, but high and wide with firsthand theatrical anecdotes. As advertised, the names do, indeed, drop. In a storm, a blizzard, a hurricane, a tornado the names appear. Famed political and sports figures take their bows, but mainly, perforce, the leading characters in King's yarns are comrades in grease paint. The original angry young comedian, now in his seventh decade, appears to have introduced Martin to Lewis, pushed Lena Horne to her comeback, bucked up Garland when she needed it, become Sinatra's pal and worked Siegel and the Mob in the early days of Vegas. From his days of boxing and drinking and tummeling in the Catskills at age 15, he fought his way up to perform for the queen and, even better, to join to pantheon of Friar zanies and Hillcrest Club funny men. He became an actor (specializing, it turned out, in mobsters and rabbis) and a producer. He had the juice, he reports. Throughout, he remained married to his childhood sweetheart, Jeanette. It must not have been easy for her. (Jeanette has the last word, and it's the most revealing chapter of the book). If the names of Georgie Jessel, Don Marques, James Barton, Leon and Eddie, or the Ritz Brothers mean anything at all to the reader, King's (Is Salami and Eggs Better Than Sex?, 1985) monologue in one is a turn that will have special resonance. Comedians no longer brandish cigars. An epoch is ending, and Alan King, playing the part of The Old Vaudevillian for all it's worth, offers his valedictory. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (National radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-80384-4
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1996