SANDY DENNIS: A Personal Memoir by Sandy Dennis

SANDY DENNIS: A Personal Memoir

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Sometimes there are pressing reasons to publish a work posthumously. But sometimes, as with this slim collection of autobiographical fragments and deeply felt pet anecdotes by a talented actress, the reasons for publication are less compelling. Although she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress early in her career (for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), as well as two Tony Awards for her work on stage (including best actress, for her role in A Thousand Clowns), Dennis's true calling was apparently as an animal lover, a role in which she displayed substantial and ceaseless talent. Piecemeal fashion, she recounts here how, over the years, she took in any number of dogs and dozens and dozens of cats, most of them strays and foundlings. Even when she was touring with a production, a few more cats would find their way to her and be added to the mânage. Like all true pet lovers, Dennis was endlessly tolerant as furniture, drapes, even telephones suffered the onslaught of so many capering claws. Every meal was a desperate defensive action. Water pistols worked for a time, but eventually a dog ate the pistols and Dennis was forced to give up meat: ""Even then all was not safe, as there seemed to be a growing number of vegetarian and pasta groupies among the carnivores."" The non-pet portions of this book are almost exclusively childhood memories. Though precise and visceral, they read more like method acting memory exercises than cogent narratives. Much of this book was written while Dennis was dying of cancer, which does give the writing the strong emotional overlay of promise unfulfilled. Despite the editor's best efforts to weld these disparate fragments together, they never really cohere into anything more than a series of precious, pointillist moments.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1997
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Papier-Mache