A Terrible Liar: A Memoir

A Terrible Liar: A Memoir

by Hume Cronyn

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Memory can be a terrible liar,'' notes Cronyn in the foreword, but this candid and witty autobiography seems totally true. Born in 1911 into a prestigious Canadian family, the author left home in 1932 for drama classes in New York and the start of a renowned acting career on stage and screen. Married to actress Jessica Tandy since 1942, Cronyn has also been a successful scriptwriter, director and producer, working with such notables as Eliza Kazan and Alfred Hitchcock. Cronyn's story is a delight, refreshingly free of mean-spirited gossip while crammed with entertaining stories about show-biz friends, including Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor during the chaotic filming of Cleopatra. The modest actor doesn't mention several Oscar nominations, his Tony and Emmy awards or other honors. This is essentially the story of his love for his wife of nearly 50 years, their children and his art. Photos. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
Intelligent, candid, humorously self-deprecating: the memoirs (only up to 1965, alas) of an actor's actor on stage and screen—who also turns out to be a stylish raconteur, an intrepid adventurer, and a sometime producer/writer...as well as, of course, the longtime husband/partner of Oscar-winner Jessica Tandy. Cronyn's early years are surprisingly dramatic: shocking his upper-crust family by dropping out of college for acting; contracting VD at a brothel; entering a brief, secret marriage with a young actress from a rich (and strange) Georgia family. And his career, though not flashy, has involved the choicest colleagues. In the 30's there was a big break from George Abbott, a useful put- down from Clifford Odets. In the 40's came film work with Spencer Tracy (touchingly boosted by K. Hepburn), the great Hitchcock, the insufferable Tallulah. Later on there was lots of TV (with self- indulgent James Dean and no-nonsense Olivier, among others), lots of Broadway (one juicy episode involves a drunken Jason Robards, a furious Lauren Bacall), the joyful inauguration of the Tyrone Guthrie Rep—and the hilarious tedium of shooting Cleopatra, with Cronyn a prime confidant in the Burton/Taylor scandale. And, always, there's the fine, flinty Jessica—wooing her, touring with her (sometimes on a shoestring), raising kids, buying a tiny Caribbean island. Serious about acting and scripts, wry and rueful about everything else: a first-flight theatrical autobiography, unpretentiously anecdotal and immensely likable but never merely charming and chatty.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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