HOLLYWOOD MOTHER OF THE YEAR: Sheila MacRae's Own Story by Sheila with H. Paul Jeffers MacRae

HOLLYWOOD MOTHER OF THE YEAR: Sheila MacRae's Own Story

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

MacRae tells of life with her glamorous husband, the alcoholic singer/gambler Gordon. Sheila and Gordon, who married young, were known for years as ""The Malted Milk Kids"" because of their clean living. A relative of famed actress Madame Sarah Siddons (in All About Eve, cunning Anne Baxter receives ""the Sarah Siddons award"") and renowned Shakespearean John Philip Kemble, Sheila gave up a promising acting career when she married Gordon and gave birth to four children. Gordon thought himself the world's greatest singer but turned down a career in grand opera to triumph in musicals, his greatest role being Curly in Oklahoma. Somewhere along the line, he picked up a drink, took to gambling, made nuttily huge bets on the turn of a card, and brought down the IRS on his and Sheila's heads. Bit by bit, Gordon fell apart. Sheila joined him in a lounge act but often had to go on alone or call in a celebrity replacement. At last, on the advice of Lucille Ball, Sheila separated from Gordon but for five more years could not commit herself to divorce. She found herself being talked into bed by JFK and later LBJ, and refused on both occasions, but apparently did become lovers for a long period with Frank Sinatra, who wanted to marry her, and with an anonymous ""Jewish Prince of Comedy."" Meanwhile, Gordon tried AA, dropped out, but nonetheless wound up on the National Council on Alcoholism while maintaining--even on his deathbed--that he wasn't an alcoholic. Sheila went on to become the last Alice Kramden when Jackie's Gleason's Honeymooners became a TV musical series. Familiar but readable operatics among the supertalented and well paid as Sheila, here writing with veteran Jeffers (Who Killed Precious?, 1991, etc.) seeks her identity.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Birch Lane/Carol