A brisk, amusing memoir of one of everybody's favorite TV classics, ``The Honeymooners.'' When Jackie Gleason first saw actress Audrey Meadows, he immediately rejected her as a possible Alice Kramden, saying, ``She's too young and too pretty.'' The determined Meadows had a photographer come to her house first thing in the morning to take pictures of her newly awake, disheveled, and without makeup. Gleason didn't recognize the woman in the pictures and, when told who she was, hired her on the spot. The rest, of course, is TV history—so much so that nearly 40 years after the last of the original ``Honeymooners'' was filmed, Audrey Meadows still answers fan mail and is recognized as Alice wherever she goes. Now, with Daley, she has written her memories of the years with Gleason, Art Carney, and company. Devout ``Honeymooners'' fans know that Meadows will say nothing negative about Gleason, and her book is clearly intended in part as a corrective to two recent biographies (The Great One by William A. Henry III and Jackie Gleason by W.J. Weatherby, both 1992) that she feels were unduly harsh. Those looking for hot gossip will have to look elsewhere. But despite some rambling and repetitions (the text cites Gleason's composing and conducting record albums as an example of his creative strengths in four separate places), this is, by and large, a very entertaining book, gracefully written, with a wealth of funny anecdotes. Meadows's rosy portrait of Gleason might seem questionable—although, to her credit, she never pretends that what she saw was necessarily the whole story—but her account leaves little doubt that she is a nice person as well as a gifted comedienne. Meadows brings her own wit and charm to backstage stories that will be a treat for her many fans. (b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)