Thank Heaven: A Memoir (英語) ペーパーバック – 2010/11/30
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"Caron provides countless dishy details about her exploits which are sure to entertain film buffs, Caron fans and aspiring actors."—Publishers Weekly
While still a teenager, Leslie Caron—the daughter of an American mother and French father—was literally plucked from the Ballets des Champs-Elysées to star opposite Gene Kelly in An American in Paris, and went on to become an MGM star and one of the most cherished and admired actresses of our time.
Wry, poignant, and unguardedly frank, Thank Heaven (an homage to "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," the song Maurice Chevalier sings about her in Gigi) recounts Caron's unorthodox childhood in France, her string of Hollywood successes and leading men, her very public affair with Warren Beatty, and her later triumph over depression and alcoholism. Both witty and deeply moving, Caron's unsentimental memoir will captivate anyone who loves classic American movies.
“If, hovering around the tell-all memoir genre, another category exists—such as, say, the ‘tell-some’—then Thank Heaven, with its excellent blend of exposure and decorum, falls gracefully within it. Leslie Caron is a good writer with a volume of short stories—Vengeance —under her belt, as well as (as she puts it) ‘a few scripts.’ Her concision, grace, and good taste still leave room for revelations aplenty.”—Kate Light, The Weekly Standard
“Caron provides countless dishy details about her exploits, which are sure to entertain film buffs, Caron fans and aspiring actors.”—Publishers Weekly
“This is more than a typical Hollywood autobiography… Rather than approach her life in the public eye from a typically Hollywood angle, Caron writes seriously and passionately about her work, her craft, and her relationships with the people she met along the way… it’s sure to strike a chord with those who value classic movies and classic actresses.”—David Pitt, Booklist
“Caron recounts her life and career as Hollywood’s ‘little French girl’ in chatty, charming style, revealing an often troubled woman behind the glamorous image of an international movie star. The author writes movingly of her childhood in occupied France, peppering her memories of rationing and shortages with surprising insights into the psychology of the situation… The little French girl spins an engrossing yarn.”—Kirkus
“A record of a lost era of Hollywood that’s littered with respectful anecdotes about the great and the not-so-good, co-stars, friends and lovers… Thank Heaven abounds with A-list anecdotes: about ‘vain’ Dirk Bogarde; Cary Grant (‘very, very nice but capable of sudden fits of real bad temper’) and one of her favorite co-stars, Fred Astaire, who described Ginger Rogers as a sloppy dancer, ‘a little wobbly at the end of a number.’”—Charlotte Heathcote, Express (UK)
Caron represents one of the last remaining bridges to the golden era of MGM musicals, and as such, her eminently readable albeit often cursory book is sprinkled with legendary names beginning with Gene Kelly, who saw her in the Ballet des Champs-Elysées' 1948 production of "La Recontre", a performance he remembered vividly two years later when he returned to Paris in search of a dancing unknown to introduce in An American in Paris (replacing a pregnant Cyd Charisse). However, her sparkling talent apparently hid a mass of insecurities developed as a child growing up in privilege in pre-WWII Paris with a French chemist father and a disapproving American mother to whom nothing she did was ever good enough. Instead of being able to celebrate her bicultural heritage, Caron felt alienated from both worlds and further isolated by the outbreak of war.
She was prepared by her dancer mother to become a ballerina, even calling herself Caronova (like Pavlova), but Hollywood beckoned and her talent blossomed along with two subsequent Oscar nominations, one as a street urchin in Lili and the other as a pregnant single woman in The L-Shaped Room. Her career is distinguished to say the least. Caron not only danced with Kelly and Astaire (in Daddy Long Legs) but also Nureyev and Baryshnikov. However, her honest yet discreet accounts of her romantic relationships, including three marriages and divorces, are just as engaging, especially when in the mid-1960's, she embarked on a long affair with Warren Beatty whom she portrays as both attentive and narcissistic. She also hobnobbed with the likes of Christopher Isherwood, Aldous Huxley, Jean Renoir and François Truffaut, and yet doesn't shy away from the controversies and bad decisions in her life.
Caron maintains an elegant diplomacy about those whom she obviously disliked (David Niven, Kirk Douglas) and those who remained enigmatic to her (Cary Grant, Henry Fonda). The actress kept her life full with two children, while battling alcoholism and crippling depression, exacerbated by the suicide of her mother. She is quite candid about her vigilant attendance at weekly AA meetings. When the actress couldn't get enough work in the early 1990's, she opened a small hotel and restaurant in Burgundy, which sadly just closed in September due to the recession. Above it all, Caron has survived it all to tell her story with no regrets.
For years I have checked amazon.com for a book on or by Leslie Caron, but there simply was none.
So "Thank Heavens" was a wonderful surprise. It has 56 photos (Leslie Caron has aged very beautifully and graciously...I like the new photo on the backside of the cover) and most of all it is written in chronological order which I really appreciate and prefer.
Caron's writing style is very compelling. She makes you keep reading and reading. The only negative thing I could say about her book: it is way too short! Only 272 pages.
All her movies and TV productions are mentioned. She also talks about her struggle with alcoholism and her latest project, her inn La Lucarne aux Chouettes in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, France, outside Paris.
This book will be a welcome addition to any movie books lover and to all Caron fans like me.
Wish there would be more books like this!