BOBBY SHORT: The Life and Times of a Saloon Singer by Bobby with Robert Mackintosh Short

BOBBY SHORT: The Life and Times of a Saloon Singer

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Frothy observations on life and art by this singer-pianist going on his 27th consecutive year performing at New York City's Cafe Carlyle. Readers searching for basic biographic information should avoid this loose memoir, written with costume designer/novelist Mackintosh (Silk, not reviewed), that covers the high points in the singer's career and little else. Born in Danville, Ill., to an absentee coal-miner father and a mother who worked as a domestic, Short began his career as a child during the Depression playing old warhorses like ""Nobody's Sweetheart"" and ""Tiger Rag"" at local roadhouses. He left home for Chicago at the age of 12 to become a bar singer. After years singing in Hollywood and Paris, he settled in New York, working primarily in clubs and the occasional Broadway revue until 1968, when he began his long run at the Carlyle Hotel (""When anyone said the Carlyle, the name Bobby Short came to mind automatically,"" he brags). Short's encounters with the famous and near-famous are treated all with equal, brief mentions; there is hardly anything one can learn besides how charming or smartly dressed they all were (Prince Charles, not surprisingly, confided in Short that he enjoys the music of Kern and company over today's rock 'n' roll). Short notes the racism that he has encountered, but he seems to have sailed smilingly through it, while those searching for tidbits of his sex life will learn only that he was ""seeing Gloria Vanderbilt"" when he was invited to perform at the Nixon White House. ""I have always treasured my privacy,"" the singer confides, and he apparently has carried this credo over into his autobiographical musings as well. Pleasant gossip, bubbly as champagne, but falling far short of what it could be.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Potter/Crown