STAR-CROSSED: The Story of Robert Walker and Jennifer Jones by Beverly Linet

STAR-CROSSED: The Story of Robert Walker and Jennifer Jones

Email this review


High-class celebrity duobiography of the love and marriage of Walker and Jones, with the bias strongly toward Walker. From his Salt Lake City childhood on, Walker was toweringly self-willed and headstrong. When his beleaguered parents finally sent him to military school for discipline and shaping up, he got into theater activities, began winning state prizes for his acting and eventually joined the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan, where he met Phylis Isley, an equally phenomenal thespian. They married while still in school; Phylis later had two kids. Bob broke into radio and began earning good money while Phylis made a John Wayne western and a Dick Tracy serial for Republic Pictures, then quit the movies. Meanwhile, David O. Selznick, still reeling with success as the producer of Gone with the Wind and Rebecca, was casting about for a follow-up and hit upon Franz Werfel's The Song of Bernadette. A screen test showed the bloom still on Phylis' cheek and big eyes abrim with big talent. She could play the virgin who sees the Virgin, no question--but Selznick thought it wisest to hide her marriage and child. ten as deeply into the woodwork as possible. Even during the year the picture was being readied for shooting, Selznick could see the cheek-bloom fading. This was in part because he had fallen totally in love with Phylis, now renamed Jennifer Jones, but was still married to Irene Selznick and did not want a divorce: he wanted, he said, to have his cake and eat it, too. But the aging Selznick was a compulsive gambler and drinker and running to pot. Finally he split the Walkers' marriage, got an iron grip on Jennifer and her career by promising her the moon and striving to deliver it, and later married Jones. Bob, meanwhile, became a self-destructive lush, held his acting career in contempt, despite several triumphs, and died at 33 of an overdose of sodium amytal given by his doctor. Jennifer's career declined, Selznick died, their daughter jumped to her death from a tall building at 21, Jennifer thrice tried suicide, at last married millionaire Norton Simon and inherited a zillion dollars. Aside from Selznick, the reader warms to everyone involved, even to Jennifer, who seems to have sold her soul to the devil, then paid for it.

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1986
Publisher: Putnam