ONE HELL OF AN ACTOR by Garson Kanin


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Kanin's idea of biography (Tracy and Hepburn) was self-promotion; ditto his idea of fiction in this ""novel"" that follows, via Gur's chatty Hollywood diaries, his 30 years of off-and-on investigations into the affairs of real-life John J. Tumulty (18491930), West Coast actor-manager and possible source material for some sort of Kanin dramatization. (""Hell of a period. Early California. Theatre stuff. Tour de force for an actor."") Sources of conflicting info: senile doormen,\ wistful ex-mistresses, actors' home inmates, and Tumulty's adopted-or-bastard son--now a Big Director coyly referred to as BD--who may or may not be responsible for the pink-enveloped threats (mind your own business or else) that Gar starts getting in the mail. It's impossible to tell how much of this is invented, how much really happened, or why Kanin found the unsensational Tumulty enigmas so fascinating to begin with. Anyway, he gets a chance to drop first names galore--Spence, Kate, Arthur (Rubinstein), Laurette (Taylor), Thornton (W.)--and indulge in the good-natured showbizziness that is his province. But Gar shouldn't have allowed BD to accuse him (on p. 202) of being ""surfacy, specious, and jejune."" Too close to the mark.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1977
Publisher: Harper & Row