WE DANCED ALL NIGHT: My Life Behind the Scenes with Alan Jay Lerner by Doris Shapiro

WE DANCED ALL NIGHT: My Life Behind the Scenes with Alan Jay Lerner

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Alternately silly, distasteful, and oddly touching recollections by Alan Jay Lerner's secretary/assistant, 1952-1966, with more emphasis on the personal (her rocky marriage, the Methadrine addiction she shared with Lerner) than on the great lyricist's Broadway/Hollywood career. Shapiro's first ten years with Lerner--the years of My Fair Lady, Gigi, Camelot--receive almost comically brief, unilluminating treatment. (""Whatever Alan and Fritz [Loewe] did together was a total mystery to me."") Doris was dazzled and charmed by the charismatic Alan: ""I loved his dapper, energetic masculine frame, which I saw every day stripped to a bikini while he shaved."" But she was also deeply in love with husband Bert, a documentary filmmaker who was often out of town. And, in the early 60's, this divided loyalty became a nightmare, as Doris neglected Bert to suffer with unstable Alan through the painful three-year genesis of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. She followed him to Max (""Dr. Feelgood"") Jacobsen for injections that generated an orgasmic high and limitless energy; she also had one night of super-sex with Max and wound up in a state of paranoid delusion. Finally Bert got her into a hospital for detoxification: she rediscovered ""the immense privilege of marriage,"" had a child, and lived happily ever after (though Bert, like Lerner, died of cancer in 1986). Shapiro's earnest analysis of what-went-wrong with On a Clear Day isn't all that convincing. Her prose gets purplish when sex, love, or drugs are concerned, and her saga of self-discovery lacks real insight. Still, while the Lerner portrait remains shallow, there are dozens of gossipy, un-loverly tidbits--about wives, girlfriends, and one pseudonymous mistress (""a well-known married public lady, almost as prominent as Jacqueline Kennedy""). And there are genuinely moving moments in Shapiro's rueful look back at what she had--and almost lost--in devoted husband Bert.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1990
Publisher: Morrow