Natural Blonde: A Memoir

Liz Smith, Author Hyperion $33.94 (460p) ISBN 978-0-7868-6325-9
What golden-haired gossip queen is rumored to dish to the max in her forthcoming autobiography, including some inside dope on her own sexual leanings? That's right, and Smith starts right off with the sort of wink-wink revelationDjuicy enough to raise eyebrows but not so wet as to shockDthat's made her reputation (and her fortune as the world's highest-paid print journalist): the golden locks on this gossip gal were once anything but. The good humor and honesty that Smith displays by letting her fans in on what only her hairdresser knew for sure grace this entire memoir, and that's a particular plus in the earlier chapters, where, after a prologue that makes a valiant defense of the value of gossip, Smith talks about her childhood, then college years, in Texas. These passages necessarily are of less interest to readers looking for tattle about the rich and famous, but Smith does drop one personal bombshell here about her passionate love for a married woman. When Smith moves to Manhattan in 1949, the names begin to glow: Tallulah Bankhead and Joan Crawford make appearances, then entire constellations of stars. Along with getting down about celebs, Smith offers a unique history of gossip reporting during the past five decades, emphasizing the ascendance in columns of film stars over bluebloods. But it's dish that will draw most readers to this congenial book, and Smith doesn't disappoint, with (sometimes naughty but never tasteless) inside stories on the Kennedys, Sinatra, Katharine Hepburn, Rock Hudson, Liz Taylor, Malcolm Forbes, Donald Trump, Milton Berle, Woody Allen and many, many more. The book's one commercial drawback is that Smith, who's in her late 70s, discusses many people who are no longer household names to younger readers. She has so many current fans, though, and gives them just what they want, with such high spirits, that this book's future on bestseller lists is no rumorDbut sure as fact. (Sept. 18)
Reviewed on: 09/18/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Compact Disc - 978-0-375-41634-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-375-41633-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 464 pages - 978-0-7868-9012-5
Hardcover - 688 pages - 978-0-375-43081-7
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