From the Publisher
In a candid memoir, Emmy- and Golden Globe–winning actress Laurie remembers her long, surprising life as a film, theater and TV star.
An “uncommunicative, silent child” who suffered from acute anxiety disorder, Laurie was inexplicably drawn to the world of stage performance from a young age. After suggesting that she “be in the movies,” her mother entered her in a contest that offered a screen test as first prize. Laurie won the contest but failed the screen test; yet the resolve to persist in following her dream remained strong. Her efforts eventually landed her a contract at Universal Studios when she was just 17. What she did not know was that “Universal was a picture factory then, specializing in a disposable product for a double feature market,” and that she would be promoted as a glamorous B-movie “bimbo.” Five years later, Laurie began the painful process of speaking for herself and articulating her professional desires. She broke her contract with Universal to take more serious roles on Broadway and in such groundbreaking TV dramas and films as the CBS Playhouse version of Days of Wine and Roses (1958), The Hustler (1961), Carrie (1976) and Twin Peaks (1990-91). Laurie’s openness—about her struggles with shyness and amphetamine addiction and her quietly determined pursuit of artistic fulfillment and sexual freedom—save the book from reading like just another Hollywood career catalog. The self-portrait that emerges is of a gracious woman who was in many ways ahead of her time and who fought “the good fight” on the way to becoming “a part of the speaking world.”
From the Hardcover edition.
Laurie has won an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award and has been thrice nominated for an Oscar—and she's not done yet. She'll soon appear in the film Hesher and is directing a one-man play based on Zero Mostel's life. And she's written a memoir, which traces her life from shy child to tough-willed actress who rebelled against the studio system. Lots of cameos and fun for all.
Read an Excerpt
One evening I received a new script from Universal. My last movie had been Ain’t Misbehavin’, in which I’d been horribly miscast. I was told the reviews were punishing. Many times through the years, my agents and I had tried to change the structure of my contract, giving me some freedom to do other things. But they would not budge. Still, I was ever hopeful.
I read the new script. This one wasn’t even a B western. It was a C western. The male star would be Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II. He was a genuine hero, had a likable natural presence on the screen, and had become a Universal movie star, playing the lead in many movies. The woman’s part was a prop and just barely that, possibly the worst part they had ever handed me. I suddenly felt so deeply insulted, so unappreciated, so mortally wounded. This time they had gone too far. I calmly got up, walked over to the fireplace, and dropped their script into the flames. With it went a little of the humiliation I had endured in the last five years. Something was coming alive in me.
—From Chapter 8, “Burning the Contract”
From the Hardcover edition.