LIFE IS A BANQUET: The Autobiography of Rosalind Russell by Rosalind with Chris Chase Russell
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LIFE IS A BANQUET: The Autobiography of Rosalind Russell

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For many fans, tart-voiced Roz--who never won an Oscar, didn't flash perfect cheek bones, stayed married to one guy for 36 years--was the most sheerly likable dame to jet-propel out of Hollywood's heyday Thirties and remain a star for another 25 years, via Wonderful Town and Auntie Mame. And this unpretentious, affirmative memoir, completed just before Russell's death last year, won't disappoint them. ""A nice Catholic girl doesn't do that,"" folks told her in Connecticut (lawyer father, six siblings) and at Marymount, but Roz studied, summerstocked, Broadwayed (Garrick Gaieties), and reluctantly departed for the movie studios, where ""nobody chased me around a desk"" but jobs came anyway--first ""Lady Mary"" parts, then the break into comedy and career-girls with The Women (she fought for the part, then struck for top billing) and His Girl Friday. All business, no temperament, no orgies, no drugs for MGM's proper-but-not-prim ""Bachelor Girl,"" who played poker with the crew while Crawford entouraged, retrieved Jean Harlow from various dives, and found Gable the ""only man who could make a love scene comfortable . . . knew what to do with his feet."" Russell has nice, wry things to say about one and all (rather too many about Sinatra, son. Lance), except for ""overripe adolescent"" Hayley Mills: ""bursting at the seams with repressed sexuality, not to mention vodka."" Instead of hot gossip, the extra dividends here are her unforced, self-deprecating humors (hiding to keep L. Bernstein from hearing her singing voice) and her crackling interest in the acting and scripting crafts: she engaged a ""tippling script fixer"" to juice up His Girl Friday (ad-libbing Cary Grant helped too) and worked on the Mame adaptations from the start. For ordeal-seekers, husband-producer Freddie Brisson details the arthritis and cancer and goodworks that Roz forges right past; otherwise, it's laughter and smarts and no nonsense--just like the lady herself.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1977
Publisher: Random House