McQUEEN: The Untold Story of a Bad Boy in Hollywood by Penina Spiegel

McQUEEN: The Untold Story of a Bad Boy in Hollywood

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Spiegel's McQueen must be compared with Neile McQueen Toffel's My Husband, My Friend (p. 1321). Where Toffel spent 14 years as McQueen's embattled wife, Spiegel spent only 22 months researching and writing her bio, and you might think that the edge on ideas about the actor would go to the ex-wife. But Spiegel produces the more writerly, Freer textured, and gripping portrait, while Neile writes from the heart and is full of warmth and forgiveness. Few of McQueen's buddies are quite so ready to speak well of his towering self-interest, which was meliorated only by little-boy gestures and shy, weird gifts, such as a garbage can full of daisies to his wife, after he'd wiped the floor with her by confessing once more that he'd bedded his costars. Time and again during their marriage, McQueen's bent sense of honesty had him confessing to his wife to sleeping with all but two of his costars. Readers will enjoy trying to weigh which two escaped. Named outright are Jacqueline Bissett, Lee Remick, and Lita Milan. His motives are plainly tied to his childhood, his deserter father, and his alcoholic mother who never had time for him. This led to his bad-boy years in a halfway house, the merchant marine, and his finally joining the Marine Corps at 17. At 20, the utter loner, he hit Greenwich Village, took up acting on the GI Bill. Friends would be embarrassed by the abuse he heaped on his mother. Later, when he could afford it, he would always order two dinners at once because ""the kitchen might run out,"" then gobble his food. His ability to suck power into his fist and make producers and movie companies jump through hoops with his costly, haywire requests became legendary. He needed absolute domination because movie making and his wealth might all be a dream and taken from him. He fought for less and less dialogue, the briefest lines possible, while becoming--at $5 million a picture--the most expensive actor in history. And yet his ""greatest talent was his ability to make people like him and it transferred from life to the screen. . .the sensitivity under the bravado, the ache under the wisecrack. . .his humor and his sheer, electric magnetism. . .his unpredictability. . ."" Toward the end, he seems clearly to have gone all the way around the paranoid bend. Again, as with Neile's confessions, this portrait is devastating. Readers will not close this book with happy feelings.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1985
Publisher: Doubleday