SAMURAI WIDOW by Judith Jacklin Belushi
Kirkus Star


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A memoir of widowhood by John Belushi's wife. Drawing from her diaries and John's letters to her, Judith Belushi reconstructs her emotional life for five years following her husband's drug death. That the telling will solace other young widows is clear. But Judith is also out to rescue John from the sensational press following his death--and especially from a richly unflattering and largely unfeeling portrait of him by Bob Woodward in Wired, a book to which she contributed. The convincingly warmhearted Belushi who emerges here is barely recognizable as the driven, eternally sponging addict of Wired. Perhaps the strongest line of thought in Judith's rehabilitation of Belushi is the overwhelming evidence of his love for her and of his sense of conscience as seen in his letters and phone calls, and in reports to her from those around him when she and John were parted by his work and especially during his last days. Even Cathy Smith, the heroin addict who injected Belushi with his fatal cocaine overdose, remarked that on the night he died he was talking about his love for his wife. The lovable Belushi also emerges from the testimony of all who were about him (aside from the brass at Paramount Pictures) and from the continuing adoration evinced by the Belushi and Jacklin families, including younger brother Jim, and by teammates Dan Ackroyd and Bill Murray, among many, many others. Judith's story tells of her foolish belief that Woodward, in supposedly writing a series for the Washington Post, was doing just what she has done here; she later sued Woodward and Simon & Schuster for reprinting her personal photographs and settled for $35,000. We watch her await the trial of Cathy Smith, work on a musical video album about John, do artwork for a humor book, and kick grass and booze (mainly through Al-Anon). Throughout, the tears are relentless, not ending until Judith is engaged to Victor Pisano, a PBS writer-producer. Frank, warm, and often moving.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1990
Publisher: Carroll & Graf