LIFE WITH LINDSAY AND CROUSE by Cornelia Otis Skinner

LIFE WITH LINDSAY AND CROUSE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Twin biographies of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse merge neatly into a chronicle of their long collaboration as playwrights and wags. Together they were responsible for the books of hit musicals from Anything Goes (1934) to Sound of Music (1959); for rewriting and producing Arsenic and Old Lace; for the scripts of State of the Union, their one serious play, and of course the hardy Life with Father, in which Lindsay stomped about ""Oh Gawwding"" for nearly eight years. Miss Skinner is at her spirited best in her leisurely reconstruction of Lindsay and Crouse's youthful ascents in the theater and journalism. Here, fore-tellingly, is the five-year-old Lindsay's Atlantic City boardwalk chant (""The Daily Union one cent/To help my mother pay the rent"") and Crouse's news sheet jottings at eleven (""Carrie Nation. . . met a man too big to smash but open to adverse criticism""). Both men came from families of wavering financial fortunes, pursued their careers with integrity and enthusiasm, and were decent, witty, kind. Skinner supplies a brief--too brief--glimpse of the pair at work, Lindsay supplying comedy, Crouse contributing the ""nonsense."" There are many anecdotes as well as revealing glimpses of Lindsay's wife Dorothy Stickney and Crouse's two wives, Alison Smith (second in command of Alex Woollcott's drama desk) and Anna Erskine Crouse, daughter of John Erskine and a writer herself. On the whole, however, this lacks the warmth and style of Miss Skinner's popular Madame Sarah (1967) and the dramatic involvement of her own presence, among friends.

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1976
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin