A frothy collection of stories and gossip from the comedic actress.
Reynolds (Unsinkable, 2013, etc.), aided by co-author Hannaway, former late-night programming director for CBS, looks back happily at her 65-year career on stage, screen, and TV. Calling herself “a vaudevillian, a baggy-pants comedian,” she confesses she’ll “do anything to get a laugh”: pretending to ravish TV host Jack Paar under his desk (“Debbie Goes Wild!” exclaimed the next day’s headlines); tackling Regis Philbin (“a cute young thing…small and wiry and fit”); dancing so energetically with Johnny Carson that he ended up sweating and winded. Although she regrets not having had “more sex” and confesses to a “lack of passion” that “probably cost me dearly in my marriages,” Reynolds delights in revealing some of her aristocratic admirers. Newly divorced from Eddie Fisher, she caught the eye of 28-year-old King Baudouin of Belgium, whom she spirited away to a day at the beach; in London for a celebration of Bob Hope’s 82nd birthday, Prince Philip progressed from holding her hand to caressing her backside; and the shah of Iran, whose wife invited her to perform at their palace, was so enchanted that he wouldn’t let her stop singing. At a post-performance dinner, “I kept looking around, hoping for some rich, single prince to take an interest in me,” Reynolds writes. Instead, she received a gift from the shah of a handmade Persian rug. The bubbly Reynolds has a kind word for almost everyone: Howard Hughes, “the most polite, southern Texas kind of gentleman”; Elizabeth Taylor, with whom Reynolds had “a very unusual friendship”; her personal assistant, who had been one of her most ardent fans; and her many hairdressers. Only the “obnoxious” Milton Berle and the “pain in the ass” Shelley Winters merit her scorn. The rest is pure frosting.
Names drop like snowflakes, glistening in the sunny terrain of this exuberant memoir.