PEEKABOO: THE STORY OF VERONICA LAKE by Jeff Lenburg

PEEKABOO: THE STORY OF VERONICA LAKE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Lenburg (Dustin Hoffman, 1982) may well be on his way to establishing a new low standard for celebrity biographies--not just sloppy and superficial, but nearly illiterate and vastly ignorant too. (Compared to Lenburg, Charles Higham seems like Justin Kaplan.) Here, with the cooperation of Lake's often-bitter, less-than-persuasive mother, he offers a shoddy crawl through the life of the 1940s star with the ""peekaboo"" hair-do--who was, we're told, a ""paranoid schizophrenic."" Lenburg, however, has less sophistication about mental illness than the average Psych I student: he tells us ""it is hard to determine why she developed a personality,"" and he provides only the sketchiest basis for such a labeling. Meanwhile, he traces her brief movie-star career--from I Wanted Wings to Sullivan's Travels and The Blue Dahlia; he notes her early tantrums at work. (""But what else might one expect from a nineteen-year-old gift, a paranoid schizophrenic at that. . . ."") Her many marriages roll by, sometimes in pulp-fiction prose: ""As the sun's rays caressed the face of his slumbering wife the next morning. . ."" And there's always her problem drinking, her ""sexual excesses"" (with an ""unnamed Paramount producer"" and others), her neglect of her children--with a decline that started in the late Forties and never really stopped, despite some theater/TV comebacks, right up to her alcoholic death in 1973. Lenburg seems confused about Lake's age from year to year; he misspells Fredric March's name (""surely the most despicable character she had ever worked with"") with a consistency that goes beyond typographical error; he writes about Forties films without any feel for (or apparent knowledge of) the period. So it's hard to imagine who might want to read this spotty, gossipmongering run-through of a sad, drab life--especially since (unlike other celeb bios) this features few substantial appearances by other big names.

Pub Date: July 5th, 1983
Publisher: St. Martin's