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THE FAT LADY SANG by Robert Evans


by Robert Evans

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-06-228604-8
Publisher: It Books/HarperCollins

The notorious kid is still in the picture.

Former Paramount Studios head Evans (The Kid Stays in the Picture: A Notorious Life, 1994) suffered three strokes in quick succession in 1998, at the age of 68. This sequel to his raunchy autobiography begins with that crisis and moves back and forth in time as Evans recalls his eventful life as actor, head of Paramount, independent producer, and, lately, comedian and voice-over talent. Producing such iconic movies as The Godfather, ChinatownRosemary’s BabyLove Story and the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby—to name just a few—it’s no wonder that Evans knows everyone who is anyone in the place he affectionately calls Tinseltown. Names drop like snowflakes in a blizzard: Frank Sinatra, (“Whatever Frank wanted, Frank got,” Evans notes), Mia Farrow, Gene Kelly, Aristotle Onassis, Dustin Hoffman, Ali McGraw (one of seven former wives), Evans’ good buddies Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, Barry Diller: a cast of thousands. Evans is not a man to cross, and he makes clear that he was determined to claw his way back after his strokes, with help from the often invoked “Guy Upstairs.” In the first weeks, he allowed no visitors: “Call it ego, narcissism, self-pity, horrendous pain, shame at my distorted face”—he could not bear to see their reactions. He deeply resented his doctor, who cautioned him against resuming his former lifestyle, and the ministrations of his three therapists—physical, speech and occupational—but finally gave himself up to months of grueling rehabilitation. During that period, barely able to walk, he managed to persuade Catherine Oxenberg, a much younger actress, to marry him. That escapade—the marriage was annulled within a week—Evans blames partly on the drug cocktails he was taking for his ailments, which turned him “into one dangerously delusional junkie.”

Self-aggrandizing, self-promotional, self-satisfied: Evans has produced a quintessential Hollywood memoir.