Make no mistake, we are living in extraordinary times. The entire world is pretty much on lockdown because of that lethal virus.
So, as we work, live and even party in the confines of our homes, I’m starting a series of recommendations for you to enjoy. Books, music, films, anything that I love and think you might enjoy too.
I’ve always loved reading well written autobiographies, especially if the writer is able to detach themselves from their ego, desire to be loved, their embarrassment at past mistakes and produce an insightful, thoughtful account of their life.
We live in a time where 20-year-old zelebrities are encouraged, by huge advances from publishers, to write airbrushed memoirs of very little (usually with 95% input from a ghost writer) but a well written autobiography from an established actor, musician, entertainer who has lived a full life can be a glorious thing.
I’m currently reading Vanished Years by Rupert Everett. I haven’t yet read his first, highly acclaimed, memoir, Red Carpets and other Banana Skins , which the Sunday Telegraph described as “if Lord Byron‘s memoirs had been grabbed from the flames…….soulful and brilliant”. But just a few chapters in, I’m totally engrossed in Vanished Years.
Everett is an underrated actor. I first became aware of him from the film Dance with a Stranger in which he played the lover and ultimately, murder victim of the last woman to be hanged in Britain, Ruth Ellis. He was beautiful looking, utterly seductive and the epitome of the charming upper-class heartbreaker.
His breakthrough was in Another Country but his open homosexuality most likely affected his ability to get the leading man roles that his looks and talent deserved. Rupert Everett was a better, more talented Hugh Grant before Hugh Grant ever came on the scene.
In My Best Friend’s Wedding he displayed a deft comic touch and stole the film from Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz. He was briefly, also known for appearing in Madonna’s American Pie video (he sang backing vocals on the cover of Don McLean’s musical masterpiece).
In his book he displays a healthy disregard for vacuous fame and Hollywood hypocrisy but candidly admits a certain longing for it too. He particularly covers this aspect of his life in the first book. Vanished Years is more about his childhood, his friendships and his caustic, funny and sharp observations of his personal and professional experiences.
He namedrops with abandon and is just the right side of bitchy about all the public figures we all bitch about in private!
I saw Rupert Everett on stage in The Judas Kiss. He played Oscar Wilde and was brilliant in a role he was surely born to play. I love Oscar and knowing that Rupert loves Oscar too makes me like him even more. He also wrote, directed and starred in the excellent The Happy Prince.
Interestingly, reading his book has also made me want to learn more about Anita Pallenberg, one time muse of the Rolling Stones. Everett mentions her in one of his beautifully recounted stories in the book and that’s the sign of a good raconteur, that they lead you to things beyond themselves.
One of the best acting autobiographies I’ve ever read is By Myself by Lauren Bacall. I’m not a particular fan but of course I knew of her because I love the golden age of Hollywood anyway and because she is an icon from that era. I knew also of course that she was married to another icon Humphrey Bogart.
Lauren Bacall definitely had a gift for writing and for the ability to recognise her own mistakes without being overly self-critical or self pitying. If you love the era of Hollywood in which she was at her most famous and hanging out with the likes of Marlon Brando then I definitely recommend By Myself. Her recollections of the Bogie & Bacall marriage and his later death are heartwarming and those of her early life pre Hollywood are a wonderful evocation of a bygone age.
Not a straightforward autobiography but Wishful Drinking by the late Carrie Fisher is an enjoyable set of anecdotes from the one time Princess Leia who turned out to have a great way with words. She goes for the humour in everything in this book, even her mental health problems but her sharp observations and humanity shine through the witty words. A seemingly lighthearted, entertaining account of some of her experiences, Wishful Drinking occasionally packs a real emotional punch.
Yours editorially in Elegance with Attitude