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

Thursday, January 26, 2017


LUCKY ME: MY LIFE WITH -- AND WITHOUT -- MY MOM, SHIRLEY MACLAINE. Sachi Parker with Frederick Stroppel. Gotham; 2013.

It isn't easy for children of celebrities, especially if they have similar ambitions, to be in the shadow of self-absorbed parents. Of course, some of these children feel entitled to enjoy their parents' connections and money, and this is certainly true of Sachi Parker, who has no problem with nepotism. Still, as the daughter of a wealthy movie star -- if we're to believe this account -- she received only sporadic attention, conditional love, and little support, financial or otherwise. Some driven movie stars become extremely protective of their territory to the point of almost becoming jealous of their talented offspring.

Then we have Sachi's father, an incredible scam artist and borderline child molester. Sachi writes about how her possibly pansexual father would climb in bed with her and act not at all in a fatherly fashion, and would squeeze her buttocks while dancing with her after she was grown. She witnessed him ruthlessly beating his mistress. Yet later in the book she is anxious for this creep to meet his grand-children! Why? You'd think she would keep them as far away from him as possible. It's these inconsistencies that make you realize that much of Lucky Me has to be taken with a grain of salt.

As in her life, Sachi Parker is clearly anxious with this book to establish herself as "somebody." hence I believe many of the anecdotes in this book are highly exaggerated or even fictionalized. If you look at Lucky Me as a semi-autobiographical novel it makes a little more sense. The book begins with Sachi learning that her mother has something to tell her that will finally make it clear why she was raised in Japan far from Shirley MacLaine. (Sachi's mother and father remained married for decades, but lived in separate countries and maintained an open relationship -- husband Steve Parker had a Japanese mistress as well.) Three quarters of the way through the book you learn what the big secret is and it's one of the most hilarious things I've ever read. I've never thought of MacLaine, talented though she may be, as having too much upstairs, but, honestly, she must be as dumb as a bucket of rocks! While the book maintains interest in the final quarter, it loses some steam, recounting Sachi's acting efforts and film/stage appearances.

So what are we to make of this? Did Sachi Parker have the misfortune of having two of the worst parents who ever lived? Did MacLaine have virtually no maternal instincts? Are she and brother Warren Beatty cut from the same cloth of ruthless ambition in which no one else ever really seems to matter? Or is the disinherited Sachi just another Christina Crawford, hating her mother for not handing her a successful career, fame, and riches on a silver platter? You can judge for yourself. But one thing that has to be said is that for much of its length Lucky Me is an absorbing and highly amusing read, and that the book is very well-written by co-auhor Frederick Stroppel. Her long story involving flatulence on a movie set could have been left out, however.

Verdict: Weird, suspect at times, but undeniably fascinating. ***1/2.


angelman66 said...

Fascinating book, eh? Loved your astute review of it...and yes, Hollywood actors are all very insecure, self absorbed and often flaky people...and in many ways, Sachi is indeed her mother's daughter! I think there is a lot of truth in these tell- alls, and a lot of exaggeration, too. We will never know the whole truth....but I do enjoy Maclaines metaphysical books and show biz memoirs too, she is a good storyteller, as is her daughter...
- Chris

William said...

"Story teller" is right! Anyway, it's a certain bet that MacLaine is not going to put her daughter back in her will anytime soon!