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Movie Reviews

Book Review: “Short Takes: Book Edition”

In this edition of Short Takes, Regina switches it up, bringing us a stack of books from Robert Wagner, Robert Vaughn, George Hamilton, Sir Roger Moore and Tony Curtis.

Fans of old Hollywood take note. Several memoirs have arrived in stores recently, written by the last generation of studio hunks. They aren’t the Oscar winners, but guys who had more than their share of popularity in their time. Now all are over 70 (OK, Hamilton’s 69) and reminiscing about their careers, studio bosses, co-stars, wives, and conquests. Even more fun: they all know each other, their careers have crossed paths, and some of the same stories pop up in more than one book.

Robert Wagner serves up Pieces Of My Heart (William Morrow) and it’s the most moving. Of course he has quite a tale to tell, of marrying Natalie Wood, losing her to Warren Beatty, then remarrying her before her untimely drowning death. Robert Vaughn has had A Fortunate Life (Thomas Dunne) but spends too little time on his The Man From U.N.C.L.E. years and too much time reminding us how brainy he is (he’s got a Ph.D.). We don’t want philosophy, Bob, we want gossip! George Hamilton romps through Don’t Mind If I Do (Touchstone) and it’s the fastest and funniest read. His wacky family could star in their own movie. He’s realistic about his place in Hollywood history, and appreciative of the fact that he’s been lucky to have a career, fame and fortune, and lots of women. Lots and lots of women.

The one Englishman in the bunch, Sir Roger Moore, swears that My Word is My Bond (Collins). He states up front that he’s not doing a kiss-and-tell, which means that there’s more padding in his book (he talks about favorite restaurants a lot). Still, his British humor carries him through. Let’s not forget Tony Curtis (as if he would let you). In his second memoir, American Prince (Harmony) he reminds you on every page that he’s Jewish, from New York, and insecure. He’s got good stories, but you feel like calling a shrink for him. He’s had a great career by anyone’s measure; one wonders if he really enjoyed it. In his book, though, Hamilton (who knows something about vanity) calls Curtis “as vain a man as there ever was.” Ouch.