I’ve read every celebrity memoir ever written (except for Keith Richards‘) because I love the inside dish, the self-aggrandizement, the bitterness, and the gloating, not to mention the peek into what makes these artists actually tick as people and performers.
Of course some are more compelling than others, but these five — my faves — don’t let you down:
(5) “Bittersweet” by Susan Strasberg. A sad life is unfortunate, but at least it makes for a really terrific book. Strasberg explores her weird parenting, deranged marriage to an actor, and bizarre career, all with dark wisdom and self awareness.
(4) “Getting It Through My Thick Skull” by Mary Jo Buttafuoco. She’s the lady who was shot in the face by her husband’s girlfriend. The story of her awakening makes for surprisingly remarkable reading. You’ll feel shot in the face.
(3) “A Memoir” by Patti LuPone. A lot of this book feels like settling scores, and several times you end up siding with the person fiery Patti’s mad at, but it’s never boring. It’s a gutsy, gritty exploration of the Broadway star’s life, with a lovely emphasis on how she approaches the work and achieves her performances.
(2) “I Am Not Ashamed” by Barbara Payton. The ’50s starlet went from sweeping into her own premieres in fox coats to turning $5 tricks and shooting heroin. Every word seems true, even if some say the ghostwriter made a lot of it up. Whatever the case, it’s a sizzling read and an even greater cautionary tale than Mommie Dearest.
(1) “My Story” by Marilyn Monroe. Published after her death, this slender but substantive tome conveys the reality about Marilyn: She was a brilliant woman whose perceptions of people and what they wanted of her were absolutely on target! And in between skirt-lifting incidents, the gal had a real way with words!