In his third Hollywood memoir (after Pieces of My Heart), film and TV star Wagner writes a valentine to the “female movie stars that defined my generation.” He proceeds chronologically, beginning in the 1930s with Norma Shearer, “[his] first movie star,” whom he met when he was eight. Other ’30s stars he discusses include Joan Crawford, with whom he had a brief fling in the ’50s, and Irene Dunne. In the 1940s, Wagner champions the troubled Betty Hutton and dances with June Haver at a party at his high school. He writes at length about Lana Turner in the 1950s, and breezes through the 1960s and 1980s, though readers will wish he hadn’t. His chapters on his wives, Natalie Wood and Jill St. John, are particularly brief and unsatisfying. There are tidbits of gossip—Fred McMurray was a tightwad; Veronica Lake was given to anti-Semitic outbursts—but most of the book contains casual recollections. His digression about the Studio Club, a residence house for actresses, is more interesting. What emerges most strongly is Wagner’s sympathy and respect for the resilient women who had to fight harder than men to survive in Hollywood. 35 b&w photos. Agent: Mort Janklow, Janklow & Nesbit. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/22/2016 Release date: 11/15/2016 Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5247-0333-2
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-14-310798-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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