THE PETER LAWFORD STORY: Life with the Kennedys, Monroe and the Rat Pack by Patricia Seaton with Ted Schwarz Lawford
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THE PETER LAWFORD STORY: Life with the Kennedys, Monroe and the Rat Pack

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Hypnotically lurid, gossip-rich portrait of the late actor as a weak-willed patsy. During his 61 drug-hazed, wenching years, Lawford played naughty knave to royalty from film (Sinatra, Monroe), politics (the Kennedys), and rock-and-roll (Lennon and Jagger). Here, assisted by the author of The Hillside Strangler and Delorean, the actor's widow kicks up Lawford's dirt to pile up a crumbly yet compelling bio of the ultimate gofer, a story based on her decade with Lawford, his talks with her about his earlier years, and interviews with those who knew him. Born of aristocratic and abusive British parents, Lawford drifted to Hollywood at age 19, dated Lana Turner while working as a theater usher, got a small role in Mrs. Miniver that he rode to stardom in a series of grade-B MGM films. Friendship with Sinatra and the Rat Pack followed, but Lawford's greatest fame came when brother-in-law JFK won the White House. Behind all this glitter, Lawford turned to drugs, mostly cocaine, and to kowtowing to the powerful, acting as a sexual procurer for JFK and, later, as a drug dispenser for rock celebs. Impotent, addicted--during a frantic stay at the Betty Ford Clinic he had cocaine secretly helicoptered in--he degenerated into a walking shell that finally imploded in 1984. Despite the padding and repetitions (twice-told facts, a long insert-history of MGM), this is a major-league jaw-dropper, partly for the shattering portrait of Lawford the fool, but mostly for its eager tongue-wagging. The authors are world-class gossips: that Nancy Reagan ""was known for giving the best head in Hollywood""; that JFK and Lawford raced to have extramarital sex on Lincoln's White House bed (Lawford won, JFK followed soon after, both with teen girls); that Cary Grant was so cheap he invited the Lawfords over for supper and then served them prefab TV-dinners--these are just a few of the many inane but undeniably fascinating revelations that make this work a gossip-lover's heaven and that will probably win it a substantial and eager readership.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Carroll & Graf