A loving, sentimental salute to a father who was sometimes missing in acting.
This isn’t a biography of Jack Lemmon (1925–2001), famed for Mister Roberts, The Odd Couple, The Days of Wine and Roses and scores of other winners. Instead, it tells the story of a showbiz kid, son of Lemmon’s first wife, who clearly yearned for more time with Pop than he was allotted. There were, to be sure, fishing trips to Alaska, piano duets, Pebble Beach golf tournaments and fun at Hillcrest, but these just weren’t enough good times for Chris. He understood that Pop, in the role of Everyman, belonged to millions. Maybe Pop was afraid of commitment. Maybe, being an actor, he was a bit self-centered. “Parenting skills, alas, were not part of the Lemmon Legacy,” the author concludes. Lemmon’s art came first, to be sure, but he was no Joan Crawford, and his son’s encomium is the antithesis of Mommie Dearest. This account offers selected glimpses into the charmed life and painful death (from cancer, in 2001) of a brand-name performer. It provides the obligatory showbiz yarns featuring bibulous adventures, but what remains regrettably underdeveloped is the important back story of what it was like to grow up as “JackLemmonsson.” No one would argue that, in addition to his professionalism, Lemmon père was a most likable fellow, but this is above all a celebration of “we Lemmons,” verging on the syrupy, though clearly deriving from a deep, sincerely demonstrated love.
A refreshingly positive, admiring look back at a Hollywood Dad, even if Dad would have counseled a bit more control over the histrionic emotion.