AUNT MAXINE The Story of Maxine Elliott by Diana Forbes-Robertson
Kirkus Star

AUNT MAXINE The Story of Maxine Elliott

Email this review


You've always got to know someone,"" Dion Boucicault told his new acting pupil, and she always did. J.P. Morgan built her a theater, Edward VII rolled his roving eye at her and she was always a part of the theater's International Set until her death in her opulent villa on the coast of France. Born into ordinary circumstances in Maine in the 1870's, Jessie Dermot invented ""Maxine"" for a stage name after her first marriage failed. Her dramatic, dark good looks, ""a good accent"" and a powerful urge to succeed brought her to the company of Augustin Daly, the foremost, producer of the gay '90's. She had no illusions about her talent and no dedication to the stage. It provided a means to an end -- financial security and social position. Nevertheless, she worked at it hard and long. Her second marriage, to Nat Goodwin, a star comedian, kept her barnstorming across the country and eventually took her to England, where the talented younger sister that she had brought into the theater married the Shakespearean actor Sir John Forbes-Robertson. The author is their daughter and she has produced an outstanding theater biography. Maxine Elliott was an interfering, over-weight, bridge-addicted, elderly aunt during the author's childhood. Considerable research was necessary to find the truth behind the family legend. The author brought a coolly analytical eye to her aunt and Maxine Elliott emerges as an unhappy, determined woman; a calculating courtesan; an uncomfortable, if generous, relative and a star who always knew the Somebodies. A loge seat at stage/social history.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1964