Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Be A Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood by William J. Mann

William J. Mann's inside look at Liz Taylor's history was, to me, depressing.

I grew up with the Hollywood glamour in my eyes.  I wanted to be a movie star.  (Or a TV star.  I'd actually rather be on TV with a character I can play for years)  And then of course reading the tabloid headlines, I received a healthy dose of cynicism.  Or realism.  However you want to look at it.

But Old Hollywood still held some glamour for me.  At least until reading this book.

I'm not saying it's a bad book -- it's written by someone who wanted to reveal the real person beneath the publicist's mask.  Which of course is refreshing, in a way, and sad, too.

Liz Taylor wasn't the perfect, beautiful, tragic-turned-happy (?) figure we're led to believe.

She loved food.  diamonds.  sex.  alcohol.  and drugs.  These excesses (or the want of them) drove her life.  Pushed by her mother into stardom, Liz took what she could when she could, always ready for more.

She had a wretched beginning -- married off by MGM to Paris Hilton's granduncle (who turned out to be abusive), which began her running from man to man in an attempt to slake the thirst inside her.  (Her dad was a distant figure in her past, never close.  Wonder what psychologists would do with her?)

I like reading about celebrities.  But I don't like reading only the bad things about them.  I like knowing they're mixed bags -- as are the rest of us.

This book seemed to be trying to make her a real person -- but it didn't succeed in showing that she was a sympathetic character.  My respect for her dropped until there wasn't any left by the end of the book.

Would you have liked Marie Antoinette if you were a French beggar?

It also opened up the wretched mess that was the Hollywood industry and even back then, people were just as terrible as they are now.  It was just tied up in a prettier package.

Opening eyes can be a good thing.  But realizing that humanity has always been wretched and will always be wretched is not why I read.  I read to hope that we are better than that.

This book was extremely well written and researched but it left me sad and feeling ugly.

I'm going to go back to fiction for a while.

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