JUNE ALLYSON by June with Frances Spatz Leighton Allyson


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A pleasant, unexciting memoir by the throaty-voiced, innocent-stereotyped star (who peaked in the late Forties)--with more emphasis on friends and marriage than on show biz. Allyson starts out nervous in 1943 Hollywood, getting through her first film, Girl Crazy, with help from Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. (""Everything had to be perfect. I would act and I would sing and I would throw up. I would sing and I would throw up again. I learned not to eat much until the end of the day."") Then she flashes back--very briefly--to her poor, fatherless N.Y. childhood, her early work on Broadway, her first backstage meeting with Dick Powell, who said: ""So here's the little girl with the funny voice."" (Here, and throughout, Allyson objects to her portrayal by Powell wife Joan Blondell in the autobiographical novel Center Door Fancy.) And it was Best Foot Forward that brought Allyson to Hollywood with ""$21 in my purse""--a Hollywood dominated by ""Papa Mayer,"" whose interfering paternalism (despised by Garland) appealed to father-needy June. Mayer pushed June into the fan-club-crazed dating with Van Johnson--but objected strenuously when June became now-divorced Powell's protÉgÉe then his sometime romance. (""He would leaf through a magazine with me and show me what he thought was good taste and what was not."") Nonetheless, June wed Powell, ""a hard man to lead to the altar,"" staying rockily married to him despite his Howard-Hughes-connected, work-obsessed neglect--which drove her into a romantic, non-sexual affair with Alan Ladd. And when Powell fell ill with cancer (one of the many deaths linked to filming near A-bomb tests), she sat by him to the end, then fell apart: ""I cried for eight years""; drinking; a bad remarriage; breakdowns. Today, however, she has found contentment in quiet comebacks and marriage to a back-packing doctor. Allyson doesn't go in for melodramatics here: the tone is plain and cheerful throughout. But a fair number of anecdotes--on Garland, Reagan, Crawford et al.--should draw the celeb-book readership.

Pub Date: June 8th, 1982
Publisher: Putnam