The Redgraves: A Family Epic

Donald Spoto. Crown Archetype, $26 (384p) ISBN 978-0-307-72014-6
Spoto (High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly) provides a competent biography of one of the most revered families in acting—a clan whose combined careers have spanned seven decades. The author devotes the better part of his attention to Michael Redgrave, born in 1908 to two actors and becoming a stalwart of British stage, film, and BBC productions. Despite his homosexual inclinations, Michael married actress Rachel Kempson, with whom he had three children. A contemporary of Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud, he appeared in stage productions of nearly every Shakespeare play and in films such as The Lady Vanishes and The Browning Version. His two eldest children, Vanessa and Corin, were passionate actors as well as dedicated social activists. All three children, including youngest daughter Lynn, had successful trans-Atlantic stage and screen careers. Spoto points to intriguing parallels between Michael's marriage to Rachel and Vanessa's first marriage to director Tony Richardson, since both men were admittedly bisexual. The book contains a lengthy recitation of the 2,600-plus roles played by family members, but Redgrave gets his hour in the spotlight. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/20/2012
Release date: 10/02/2012
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