In general, I’m not inclined to read about a person’s life from cover to cover. I’ve enough to read without adding fine details and reminiscing to the pile. Much to my annoyance, I’m bombarded with celebrity drama. Personally, I don’t care if someone’s attire is “in fashion” or who they’re bonking. As they’re wont to do, exceptions occasionally arise, and there are a few biographies that caught my interest.
Although I’m a fan of the music stylings of Meat Loaf and Michael Crawford, it was their work in theatre that really piqued my interest and led me to read To Hell and Back and Parcel Arrived Safely: Tied With String. As a theatre geek, I get a kick out of what happens behind the scenes, from casting and rehearsals to the final curtain call. Meat Loaf also gives insight into how the music industry has changed through the years. Both of their antecdotes were entertaining, to say the least. Their autobiographies are also less pomp and more humorous circumstance, which make them enjoyable, quick reads.
On a more serious note, Anthony Rapp’s Without You is a deeply touching and honest memoir about the joys and sorrows of life. Rapp shares the struggles of an actor, of his mom’s battle with cancer, and with his mom about his sexuality. While Rent was taking off-Broadway by storm, on opening night (and after) the cast and crew were mourning the sudden death of its brilliant creator and their beloved friend and collaborator, Jonathan Larson. Like the song for which it’s named, Without You is extremely personal and heart-wrenchingly beautiful.
Less heart-wrenching, but also insightful and honest is Love, Ellen by Betty DeGeneres. She shares the triumphs and tribulations of herself and her daughter. Years before she became a spokesperson for the Human Right’s Campaign, the conservative DeGeneres struggled to accept Ellen’s “choice” to love another woman. Love, Ellen was written to help parents understand their children, give a parent’s perspective, and help those rejected by family feel less alone. DeGeneres ends her memoir with these often easier-said-than-done words:
“Go with love, joy, peace, and happiness in your heart. Heal the world.”
I’ve been meaning to read Audrey Hepburn, an Elegent Spirit: A Son Remembers, but haven’t gotten to it yet. Written by Sean Hepburn Ferrer, it’s more a tribute than a biography. Along with being about Hepburn’s life, old collaborators such as Fred Astaire and Gary Cooper share their memories and impressions of the remarkable woman. There are also photos of Hepburn with family members, on set, and helping make the world a better place through UNICEF, which she continued to do even when the doctors said she shouldn’t. Hepburn didn’t write an autobiography because she didn’t want to draw offense, even accidentally. I still have the newspaper clipping from 1993 that told of Hepburn’s passing and her “Beauty Tips”:
“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived,
reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand,
you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands;
one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.”
Another autobiography I would really like to read is Jim Steinman’s. Too bad it doesn’t exist, and given his reclusive ways, most likely never will. I’m more interested in digging into Steinman’s music than his life’s details. I’d like to hear his version of the rift between himself and Meat Loaf, who gives his side in To Hell and Back. He also writes about when he and Steinman were inseparable and gives some insight into the eccentric musical genius.
So, as asked by Booking Through Thursday:
“Do you read celebrity memoirs? Which ones have you read or do you want to read? Which nonexistent celebrity memoirs would you like to see?”