A STAR, IS A STAR, IS A STAR! by Christopher Andersen


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Susan Hayward biography #2--and it's a slapdash paste-up like this that makes pedestrian work like Beverly Linet's Susan Hayward (p. 1054) look good. Andersen covers essentially the same ground as Linet did (Brooklyn childhood to modeling to the frustrating Hollywood second-string and then stardom), with many of the exact same anecdotes and quotes. But while Liner at least attempted to make some psychological sense out of Susan's tough personality and unsatisfactory private life--bad marriage, suicide attempt, drinking, frigidity--Andersen doesn't (his analysis of the suicide try is ludicrous); nor has he interviewed Susan's ex-husband, the prejudiced but important source of much of Linet's not-unreasonable theorizing. Apparently in the dark, then, on Hayward's home life (except for her last years, with lots of graphic detail on her terminal illness), Andersen concentrates more on the films; but here he dispenses thoroughly unreliable assessments (""I'll Cry Tomorrow was what many believed to be the greatest film of the 1950s"") and irrelevant Hollywood trivia--sheer padding which is also sometimes erroneous. (Composer Jule Styne is identified with two credits, both wrong.) Plus: references to Hayward's ""strict adherence to astrology"" (source: astrologer Carroll Righter), heavy reliance on old fan-mag filler (even more so than Linet), spots of dubiously reconstructed dialogue, dabs of cereal-box prose (""soaring triumph and soul-searing tragedy""), and rather more glib speculation than Linet's about the likelihood that Hayward's cancer (like that of John Wayne, Dick Powell, Agnes Moorehead, and others) was caused by atomic testing near the making of a 1954 film in Utah. Andersen may have some material here that Linet didn't get--and there's certainly more chatter for minor-movie buffs--but the whole book seems so casual and sloppy that you don't trust it for a second, making Linet's the hands-down biography of choice, whatever its limitations.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1980
Publisher: Doubleday