A TERRIBLE LIAR by Hume Cronyn


A Memoir
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 Intelligent, candid, humorously self-deprecating: the memoirs (only up to 1965, alas) of an actor's actor on stage and screen-- who also turns out to be a stylish raconteur, an intrepid adventurer, and a sometime producer/writer...as well as, of course, the longtime husband/partner of Oscar-winner Jessica Tandy. Cronyn's early years are surprisingly dramatic: shocking his upper-crust family by dropping out of college for acting; contracting VD at a brothel; entering a brief, secret marriage with a young actress from a rich (and strange) Georgia family. And his career, though not flashy, has involved the choicest colleagues. In the 30's there was a big break from George Abbott, a useful put- down from Clifford Odets. In the 40's came film work with Spencer Tracy (touchingly boosted by K. Hepburn), the great Hitchcock, the insufferable Tallulah. Later on there was lots of TV (with self- indulgent James Dean and no-nonsense Olivier, among others), lots of Broadway (one juicy episode involves a drunken Jason Robards, a furious Lauren Bacall), the joyful inauguration of the Tyrone Guthrie Rep--and the hilarious tedium of shooting Cleopatra, with Cronyn a prime confidant in the Burton/Taylor scandale. And, always, there's the fine, flinty Jessica--wooing her, touring with her (sometimes on a shoestring), raising kids, buying a tiny Caribbean island. Serious about acting and scripts, wry and rueful about everything else: a first-flight theatrical autobiography, unpretentiously anecdotal and immensely likable but never merely charming and chatty.

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-10080-5
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991