Dolls! Dolls! Dolls!: Deep Inside Valley of the Dolls, the Most Beloved Bad Book and Movie of All Time

Stephen Rebello. Penguin, $17 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-14-313350-6
Screenwriter Rebello (Bad Movies We Love) plunges into all aspects of a famously guilty pleasure in this exuberant examination of Jacqueline Susann’s racy tale of sex, drugs, and Hollywood. Rebello recounts Susann’s early experiences as an actress and playwright, and numerous affairs with stars, including Ethel Merman and Eddie Cantor, and the scorn she drew from literary heavyweights, including Truman Capote and Gore Vidal, when Valley of the Dolls, marketed as a scandalous roman à clef of her showbiz career, hit 1966 bestseller charts. Rivaling the book’s salacious plot, the making of the 1967 film version was fraught with drama. Patty Duke, a Hollywood veteran, resented being given second billing to newcomer Barbara Parkins—who, for her part, had pursued Duke’s role, as a Judy Garland–inspired singer. Garland herself was cast as an older performer (in turn inspired by Merman), but the troubled actress was soon replaced by fellow star Susan Hayward. When the much anticipated movie premiered, a combination of projection snafus and the actual film’s “rancid dialogue and over-the-top performances” drew ridicule—yet over time, the film attained cult status in its own right. Anyone seeking nonfiction escapism will be well served by Rebello’s loving dissection of a camp classic’s print and screen incarnations. Agent: Mary Evans, Mary Evans Inc. (June)
Reviewed on : 05/22/2020
Release date: 06/02/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-0-525-50529-7
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