Lenya: A Life

Donald Spoto, Author
Donald Spoto, Author Little Brown and Company $19.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-316-80725-8
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
A frightened, abused child and a teenage prostitute, Vienna-born Karoline Wilhelmine Charlotte Blaumauer (1898-1981), later known as Lotte Lenya, achieved worldwide fame as the wife of Kurt Weill and as the outstanding interpreter of his songs. In her many love affairs and four unfulfilled marriages--to a musical genius; a talented homosexual; and two alcoholics, one 27 years her junior who made no sexual demands on her--Lenya knew about violence and addiction, conflict and trauma. This well-researched ``life and times,'' by a biographer of Stanley Kramer and Tennessee Williams, examines the personality and career of a feisty, energetic actress who ``an octave below laryngitis . . . sang sad songs with an incredible joyfulness and joyful songs with great sadness.'' Ruthless, withdrawn and suspicious, Lenya, as depicted here, was also deeply compassionate and a devoted friend. For many years she was a screen personality, concert and recording star, cultural idol and living legend. This sympathetic book pays tribute to her allure, charm, wit, sadness and genius. Photos not seen by PW. (May)
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