Thursday, November 18, 2010
CLORIS: MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY CLORIS LEACHMAN
CLORIS: MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY. Cloris Leachman with George Englund. Kensington; 2009.
Ms. Leachman -- with the help of ex-husband Englund -- writes pleasantly of her life and career in this memoir done in the style of Bette Davis' This 'n' That: instead of proceeding chronologically, Leachman jumps around from subject to subject on her whim, but she manages to cover most of the bases. One senses, however, that she could have had a lot more to say about her life with, and divorce from, Englund, the father of her children, as well as about some of her co-workers. Leachman writes of how -- despite having perhaps [in my opinion] one of the worst names in show business -- she became successful on Broadway, in films and on television, garnering a host of Emmys, Tonys and an Oscar along the way. She also describes her devastation at the death of one of her sons to drugs. Then there are amusing stories of awkward things that happened on live television. At times Leachman comes off as dithery as her character "Phyllis," especially when she relates how Ed Asner basically stopped speaking to her because of her public references to his weight -- but she repeats the anecdote he hated in the book! When she writes of ex-husband Englund -- "I'm number one with him. He has a girlfriend now .. [who] takes wonderful care of him, and he loves her. But I'm still the one" -- you have to wonder if this is enduring friendship of ex-spouses or the words of a woman who just won't let go. In any case, the book is entertaining, and Leachman remains a very gifted actress.
Verdict: Easy to take. ***.