Email this review


Oh, yes, it is, as the poor man's Shirley MacLaine demonstrates in this likable but soft-headed autobiography that sloshes giddily from psychic experience to sexual confession to New Age homily. ""The Fingers of Fate do their walking through the Yellow Pages of Life in strange and mysterious fashion,"" writes Bean. No doubt; few passages in recent autobiographical annals are stranger than Bean's opening, which finds him dancing on his kitchen floor in celebration of his realization that happiness was his for the choosing: ""Why in the name of God would I choose to be unhappy when I knew I could be happy?"" And why, then, his lifelong flirtation with despair? To find out, Bean sifts through his 60-year odyssey, beginning with his troubled New England childhood marked at age 16 by his mother's suicide. Stints in the Army and on the club circuit as a magician/comedian follow; then, success on Broadway and TV's To Tell the Truth. Bean's minor show-biz career takes backstage here, however; the limelight is on his personal journey, most brightly on his 14-year marriage to Carolyn Maxwell and their tandem exploration of counter-culturalism. A perfect seven years in a renovated Chelsea mansion give way to the Beans' move to Australia, where the weirdness begins: Carolyn suffers under Bean's call for an open marriage, and at the same time a ""black, spectral thing wrapped in a shroud"" begins to haunt their house. No fools, the Beans scurry back to America, soon landing in L.A., where they blissfully drop LSD, cure their son's warts through magic, and sexually experiment--Carolyn with a swimming teacher, the Beans together at Sandstone. In time, Carolyn, seeking self-reliance, departs, and Bean crumbles--until his kitchen revelation. Today finds Bean writing, meditating, fire-walking, ""the happiest son of a bitch who ever lived."" Bean's wit and charm nearly drown beneath his excessive self-fascination and fizzy musings; a tolerable life-exploration, then, but no match for Bean's earlier, best-selling Me and the Orgone (1971).

Pub Date: June 6th, 1988
Publisher: Lyle Stuart