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

Thursday, July 30, 2009


A FORTUNATE LIFE: ROBERT VAUGHN. 2008. Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press.

An interesting and highly readable account of the life of actor Robert Vaughn, as told and written by Vaughn himself. We learn about his childhood and his theatrical family; his interests in politics [one senses a certain conservatism under the liberal veneer]; his early movie roles; his work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which made him a household name; and his feelings about who really might have murdered Robert Kennedy. In other words, this is certainly a mixed bag, but it's never boring. Most of the book is in chronological order, while a section in back includes many more anecdotes that for one reason or another were never mentioned in the proper order. No matter. Being told that a certain actor was bisexual, Vaughn thought that meant he took on two women at once. The same guy came to his wedding and told him he ought to appear in A Streetcar Named Desire -- as Blanche Dubois. Vaughn writes of being held hostage in two different countries [for very different reasons] and his harrowing escapes. He's a bit hard on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. , finding the pilot creaky and wondering why anyone would want to watch it. Although the book is dedicated to Vaughn's wife and two children, you learn almost nothing about them, not even how he met his wife. [You can practically hear him saying "Sorry honey, sorry kids, but this book is about me." I mean, we don't even learn what the kids do for a living!] Vaughn is cultured and erudite, but underneath it all he's a typical self-absorbed actor. For more on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. click here. Related posts: The Spy with My Face; The Spy in the Green Hat; The Helicopter Spies.

Verdict: Good read, good book. ***.

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