Five Best: Behind-the-Scenes Show Business Books

1. Set in 1950s California, Gavin Lambert’s novel is about Daisy, a teenage girl seemingly relegated to living in a trailer park with a mother who spends her days in bed playing cards – it’s not for nothing that his mother is known as The Dealer. But fate intercedes in the form of a supermarket talent contest which Daisy wins, propelling her to stardom. Along the way—and mostly to obey her superiors—she gets rid of her mother’s presence by consigning her to a sanatorium. Publicity articles about Daisy’s family later indicate that her mother is deceased. But Daisy has other worries on her mind. She met Wade, a rising star. At 16, she married him. After the wedding, they drive all night and end up in a seedy hotel in Arizona. In the morning, Wade left. Soon the newspapers are full of pictures of Wade frolicking with his lover, Malcolm, in Mexico. When I first read “Inside Daisy Clover” I was in Los Angeles, touring with the Royal Shakespeare Company and at the very beginning of my acting career. I was so captivated by the character of The Dealer that I made a pilgrimage to Hermosa Beach, to better imagine the beachside cabin where she lived with Daisy.

The lonely life

By Bette Davis (1962)

2. I like the honesty of this memoir. Bette Davis lets us know who she looked up to: Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn, Anna Magnani. “Give me the ‘larger than life’ approach of Laurence Olivier and Judith Anderson. . . . Simone Signoret in Room at the top really had the universal. She was not that woman. She was all women.” And Davis wasn’t afraid to slam people she despised: Robert Montgomery, she says, “invalidated my close-ups. . . . It was eclipsing in its most diabolical form. Miriam Hopkins “is a perfectly socially charming woman. Working with her is another story. And Alec Guinness “is an actor who plays all by himself, for himself”; in ‘The Scapegoat’ (1959), “he played a double role, so at least he was able to play with himself.” Davis also admits to the feelings most of us actors have when we don’t get a role we really want: “I was also perfect for Scarlett as Clark Gable was for Rhett…. I also don’t take away from Miss Leigh’s fine performance when I say I still wish I had gotten my hands on her Davis also talks to us about the downsides of her life. All her husbands, she says, have physically beaten her. “I have always been terrified by the physical violence. . . . They attacked me with fury.

Hollywood brides

By Jackie Collins (1983)

3. In “Hollywood Wives,” story-weaver Jackie Collins manages to reveal the behind-the-scenes world of Hollywood while delivering a gripping thriller. The invisible controllers of power behind the Hollywood facade are wives. An ambitious wife is trying to support her husband’s failing acting career while battling her own uncontrollable habit – shoplifting – and another is busy pressuring her director husband to use the script that she wrote. Yet another, a gossip columnist, is busy listening to the details of all the latest scandals. Dining at Spago, shopping on Rodeo Drive, all the while relentlessly pursuing their ambitions and desires, the wives cross paths with agents, producers and actors of all types – the emerging ones as well as the faded and forgotten ones. Collins once said, “I write about real people in disguise. On the contrary, my characters are toned down – the truth is much weirder!

The rival queens

From Fidelis Morgan (2001)

4. Fidelis Morgan’s historical novel is hilarious. The rival queens for the title are two 17th-century London actresses whose public personas are the opposite of their real lives. Scandal author, Countess Ashby de la Zouche, and her valiant servant, Alpiew, witness the bloody aftermath of the murder of one of the actresses, apparently by her rival. The fearless Countess and Alpiew set out to find the killer, a quest complicated by street gangs sporting pink ribbons as well as a silver-nosed sculptor, a filthy stalker, a tea-smuggling heiress and a dorky steward with bright white wooden glasses. fake teeth. Actor Alan Rickman was a huge fan of the Countess Ashby de la Zouche series of novels (of which this is the second). He believed the real star of the books was 1699 London – its sounds, sights and smells. The Countess and Alpiew take us on a joyful quest from the Tower of London Zoo through the fly-infested dumps of Tottenham Court Road, Bedlam Asylum, Mrs. Salmon’s Waxworks, Old Mother Blackham’s Covent Garden Sex Shop and The Folly, a floating pleasure palace on the River Thames.

Music hall night lights

By Colette (1913)

5. Although Colette became a revered writer, a grand officer of the French Legion of Honor and the second woman in France to receive a state funeral – the first being Sarah Bernhardt – she began her professional life as a saboteur in variety shows. In “Music-Hall Sidelights”, she tells the living story of this first experience. “These traveling showgirls have transformed their rectangular closet into a real gypsy encampment. Red and black cosmetic pencils roll all over their makeup table, covered on one end with brown paper and the other with an old, tattered towel. The slightest draft would blow away the postcards fixed to the walls by pins planted at an angle. There’s the haughty first lady, who thinks she looks like Bernhardt. There are the talkative chorus girls in their cramped, sweaty dressing room, the sequined acrobats, the talkative dresser. Lola, the dwarf pony, goes down every evening to drink a glass of water in Colette’s dressing room, while Bastienne, the penniless ballerina, nurses her baby in the corner. When Bastienne is on stage, “Ethiopian slaves in coffee-colored tights, Egyptian women hanging in blue jewelry, bare-chested houris, leaning forward [the baby’s] cot and let her play with their necklaces, their feather fans, their veils that change the color of the light. From behind the scenes, the author observes the knife throwers (“I blink my eyes each time the blade passes, and each time I lower my head”). I, too, have done many theatrical tours in small towns – Colette’s delicious tales remind me of all the horrible and seedy times, but, at the same time, the lively melancholy with which she paints the world behind the scenes makes me want to go back there. .

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