OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS by Dorothy Stickney

OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A slim, old-fashioned, sweet-spirited memoir--more soulful than saucy--by the stage actress best remembered as Mother in Life with Father, the hit that starred and was co-authored by her much-beloved husband, Howard Lindsay. Strangely, though, Stickney's story is most entrancing in the years before Howard came along: her North Dakota childhood was blighted by much-operated-upon corneal ulcers, but her mother taught her how not to cry; and when Mother died, resilient Dorothy took off for New York City--with no training and with nothing but a stint as one of vaudeville's forgettable ""Southern Belles"" as experience. Somehow, however, she did just fine (despite the awful loneliness of Christmas Eve 1924 in Manhattan), making rounds and learning her craft in delightful Maine summer stock--where she met actor/director/playwright Howard. His career was soon soaring, in collaboration with Russel Crouse. But Dorothy, though in demand as a gifted character actress, was plagued by dreadful stage fright and nervous illnesses, which she did overcome well enough--apparently through a combination of psychiatric help and private religious experience (""It was no longer believing in God. It was KNOWING"")--to manage five years of the long run of Life With Father. After that, Stickney's memoir is more Howard than Dorothy--his hits, his humor, his long, bravely borne final illness--though Dorothy did triumph with her one-woman evening of Edna St. Vincent Millay and in 1973 even sang to a soft-rock beat on Broadway in Pippin. Readers in search of a bright and sassy, anecdote-filled, showbiz saga will have to look elsewhere; but for others, Stickney's, heartfelt, nostalgic memories may provide a gentle, lightly star-dusted wisp of inspiration.

Pub Date: Aug. 3rd, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday