A hilarious collection of strange-but-true tales of encounters between the rich and famous.
BBC Radio Host, Daily Mail columnist and all-around English wit Brown (The Lost Diaries, 2010, etc.) delivers a fine and funny assortment of oddball celebrity meetings and matchups. Some are well-known, such as when a drug-addled Elvis Presley met Richard Nixon, or Marilyn Monroe snuggled up to visiting Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. At least one is historically important: when Prince Felix Youssoupoff lured Grigori Rasputin to his death. Most, however, are delightfully inconsequential, whether it’s Harpo Marx driving Sergei Rachmaninoff bonkers with his harp playing, Sarah Miles sharing tea with a thigh-squeezing nonagenarian named Bertrand Russell, or Leonard Cohen having a quickie with Janis Joplin (and getting a song out of it). Some encounters go off without a hitch, such as between mutual admirers Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain. Others slightly misfire; Groucho Marx tries to impress dinner companion T.S. Eliot by quoting The Waste Land, only to find the poet “was thoroughly familiar with his poems and didn’t need me to recite them.” At least they talked, which is barely more than can be said for James Joyce and Marcel Proust. There are also plenty of bad dates, whether it’s Madonna snatching off Michael Jackson’s glasses and sailing them across the room, Isadora Duncan tempting Auguste Rodin with her perfect young body, or Allen Ginsberg making an awkward pass at Francis Bacon.
Brown is as smart as he is puckish, and there are plenty of laughs on this terrific trip through modern fame.