Dear him, indeed. ""Dear"" as in precious and rare, adjectives which apply, especially in memoirs by mummers, to the Ustinovian qualities of taste, wit, warmth, and a tender liaison with the English language. Whether sifting through his ""excessive admixture of prenatal ingredients""--Russian, French, Ethiopian--or observing that the US is ""directly responsible for the spread of socialism"" and that some of his ""best friends are Palestinians,"" the actor-playwright-raconteur knows exactly how and whom he's entertaining, teasing, or offending. Not content just to amuse as the bumbling WW II private (though ""betrothed to laughter"" since his toddler days as a mimicry prodigy) or just to record how a bulky teenaged drama schooler who ""seems to have difficulty in walking, running, or jumping"" became a wunderkind of London's theatrical Forties, Ustinov allows a second voice (""Dear Me"") to question him from time to time, jogging his memory, demanding further self-analysis about father (Klop), mother, wives, and children: ""You can't put off talking about the end of your second marriage forever, like a visit to the dentist. The book is nearly over. Be brave."" No need, however, to fear angsty whinery: ""I have neither the temperament nor the build for screams of horror."" And if famous faces are de rigeur--will Olivier, Gielgud, Laughton, and Kirk Douglas do? They will, providing exactly the right number of shiny show-biz tiles for a varied, textured, harmonious mosaic that reminds us how seriously funny and hilariously serious a trulycivilized man can be.