The theater world of the 1950s forms the backdrop for a star-studded memoir.
Before she became a journalist and biographer, whose subjects include Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando, Bosworth (Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman, 2011, etc.) was an actress who trained at the Actors Studio (along with Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, and Steve McQueen) and performed on and off Broadway, on several TV soap operas, and on film as Audrey Hepburn’s friend in The Nun’s Story. The author recounts the glamorous highs and frustrating lows of trying to succeed as an actress, offering juicy anecdotes featuring a large cast of the actors, directors, and playwrights who comprised the important men in her young life. In addition, she revisits some material from her previous memoir, Anything Your Little Heart Desires (1997), focused on her father, Bartley Crum, a lawyer who defended the Hollywood Ten and suffered reprisals during the McCarthy years; and her brother, Bart Jr., who killed himself in 1953. The two Barts are the men who affected her most. She dedicates the memoir to Bart Jr.; unfortunately, she records verbatim her imaginary, rather immature, conversations with him, which persisted long after his death. Bosworth longed to extricate herself from a “family full of terrible silences” that refused to recognize Bart’s homosexuality, find help for his depression, and acknowledge her father’s alcoholism and drug dependency. Her father eventually killed himself, as well. Her first act of rebellion was to elope when she was still in her teens. “By choosing someone my parents disapproved of,” she writes, “I found myself released from all traditional expectations.” But marriage was not the answer: her husband, a would-be artist, abused her; finally, with her father’s help, she got a divorce. She divulges an affair with an older, married man, who opened some professional doors; a later abortion; and, in 1966, marriage. By then, she had given up acting to become a writer.
A forthright memoir of pain and aspirations enlivened by sharp portraits of a host of colorful celebrities.