KEEP ON DANCING by Sarah Churchill

KEEP ON DANCING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Repeating some of the material from her father-centered memoir, A Thread in the Tapestry (1967), Winston's actress-daughter Sarah now tells her whole story--""simply the story of a woman who happened to be a daughter of one of the 'greats' of history, who found that skies are not always so blue."" And though there are more than a few dull or fuzzy patches in this chatty, loosely-paced chronicle, Sarah's unusual two-tone world--Enghsh gentry and politics on the one hand, show-biz on the other--offers an engaging variety of places, people, and situations. Growing up sickly and clumsy with a beautiful mother (""she was a chandelier, while my father was the sun""), mopey Sarah needed something of her own and found it in dancing school--which led to a 1935 chorus-girl audition for revue-king C. B. Cochran (he wrote WSC to get his O.K.) and to vaudeville star Vic Oliver. . . whom she ran off to marry in the US over parental objections. (Oliver was much older and Austrian-bom.) But this two-career marriage didn't last--""he was to lose me when I found myself""--so Sarah was home for the war, as a WAAF photo-analyst and as her father's companion at Tehran or on the bleak, boring six-hour drive to Yalta (""Papa recited practically all 'Don Juan' ""), with grim accommodations (""4 Field-Marshals queueing for a bucket!""). The postwar years brought a grueling starring role in an Italian film; vacations with painter WSC in Marrakech ("" 'Crikey!' said Papa,"" when served pigeons in lemon sauce); and marriage to ""shining"" photographer/writer Antony Beauchamp--whose Life cover photo of Sarah made her a budding US celebrity. So, urged on by Gertie Lawrence, she moved her theater career to America and found herself cast in Royal Wedding opposite her idol, Fred Astaire. (To get to dance with him, however, she had to pressure the producers and arrange a special audition.) And, after a brief Hollywood heyday (chumming with Garbo, Chaplin, Dietrich), Sarah worked steadily--on and off camera--in the first years of television's live Hallmark Hall of Fame. But, beginning with the suicide of estranged husband Antony, things went downhill: she was arrested, imprisoned, or institutionalized in both California and London for drunken ""disorderly conduct"" (Sarah's vague accounts here fail to clarify either her behavior or police motives); her love-at-firstsight marriage to artistic, ailing Lord Henry Audley was very soon ended by his death; her sister committed suicide (""I am not convinced that Diana finally wanted to end it all""); and the press continued to pounce on her international, unconventional doings. Don't look for much emotional grab in the tribulations here: there's no steady, selfaware focus. But Sarah is generally sprightly and candid, the supporting cast is snazzy (from FDR to M. Monroe), and whenever beloved papa Winston appears the old magnetism still works its spell.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1981
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan