Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, June 6, 2008

GOLDEN BOY: The Untold Story of WILLIAM HOLDEN


GOLDEN BOY: The Untold Story of William Holden. Bob Thomas. St. Martin's Press; 1983.

An excellent biography of film star William Holden traces his life from boyhood to his death at 63 while intoxicated. Thomas doesn't spend any time analyzing his films or acting style, but he does give us solid biographical information, from his first big role in Golden Boy with Barbara Stanwyck, his long-term marriage to actress Brenda Marshall (throughout which he apparently had numerous affairs), his public liaison with (rather homely) model-turned-actress Capucine, and his relationship with Girl from U.N.C.L.E.'s Stephanie Powers -- and a lot of film roles along the way. Thomas also explores how Holden was held responsible for the death of Valerio Giorgio Novelli while driving on the Autostrada (Holden claimed he wasn't drunk), but basically bought his way out of it. The book eventually becomes quite depressing as it unflinchingly examines Holden's sloppy, out-of-control alcoholism and his attempts to go on the wagon without admitting he had a problem. There are interesting anecdotes about how he got and approached certain roles along with behind the scenes tidbits. Holden was completely unable to bond with his own children, and one senses there was some conflict or problem that the actor was never quite able to come to grips with.

Verdict: An absorbing read. ***1/2.

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