Thank Heaven: A Memoir

( 11 )

Overview

From Her First Unforgettable Appearance in an American in Paris to her more recent roles in Chocolat and Le Divorce, Leslie Caron has enchanted audiences for more than five decades. While still a teenager, Caron-the daughter of an American mother and a French father-was literally plucked from the Ballets des Champs-Élysées to star opposite Gene Kelly, and the rest is, as they say, Hollywood history.

Wry, poignant, and unguardedly frank, Thank Heaven recounts Caron's unorthodox ...

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Thank Heaven: A Memoir

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Overview

From Her First Unforgettable Appearance in an American in Paris to her more recent roles in Chocolat and Le Divorce, Leslie Caron has enchanted audiences for more than five decades. While still a teenager, Caron-the daughter of an American mother and a French father-was literally plucked from the Ballets des Champs-Élysées to star opposite Gene Kelly, and the rest is, as they say, Hollywood history.

Wry, poignant, and unguardedly frank, Thank Heaven recounts Caron's unorthodox childhood in wartime France, her string of Hollywood successes and leading men, her very public affair with Warren Beatty, and her later triumph over depression and alcoholism. Here is the rare Hollywood memoir that is as witty as it is deeply moving-a marvelous self-portrait of an endlessly fascinating woman.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Caron went from Parisian ballerina to Hollywood movie star at 17, when Gene Kelly tapped her for a co-starring role in the 1951 hit An American in Paris. She became a star in the studio system of that era, and via her MGM contract shared billing with Fred Astaire and Cary Grant by day and socialized with Judy Garland and Lena Horne by night. It’s been a glamorous life, but, as Caron reveals, not without struggles. She grew up in occupied Paris, her father a French chemist, her American mother a former dancer. Caron never felt good enough for her parents: “The path to excellent was clearly indicated, and my insecurity became chronic.” Despite her success, she points to insecurity as the root of her decision to date or marry and divorce several controlling men, including meat-packing heir George Hormel II and actor Warren Beatty, with whom she had an affair in the 1960s. Caron provides countless dishy details about her exploits, which are sure to entertain film buffs, Caron fans and aspiring actors. Today, the 78-year-old two-time Academy Award nominee acts in the U.S. and Paris; in 2007, a role on Law and Order: SVU garnered a prime-time Emmy. Caron also runs an auberge, or inn, in France and, she writes, intends to avoid fading into the background. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Best known for An American in Paris and Gigi, Caron has had a multifaceted career in dance, film, theater, and television, served on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival, authored short stories, and became an innkeeper in Burgundy. Her book, much more memoir than straight autobiography, gives one the feeling of being in the room with her as she reminisces selectively. She covers her early life, living through World War II in occupied Paris, joining the Ballets des Champs Elysées, and working with choreographer Roland Petit. Opportunity knocked with An American in Paris, but the chapter on this is disappointingly brief. Caron was nominated for Oscars for Lili and The L-Shaped Room and won an Emmy in 2007 for a Law and Order performance. The sense of how fleeting fame and happiness are permeates the book. Married three times, she constantly reinvented herself in a variety of ways. VERDICT For those interested in Caron and her career or in general movie star biographies. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/09.]—Barbara Kundanis, Longmont P.L., CO
Kirkus Reviews
Caron (Vengeance, 1982) 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. She avers that the French grew increasingly savage under the yoke of their oppressors while the German soldiers took pains to be polite and courteous to their charges. Malnourished and high strung, Caron would have lifelong difficulties with food, her general health and crippling depression-an unhappy legacy from her eccentric, selfish mother, an American dancer who ultimately committed suicide. On the sunnier side, Caron triumphed in such international hits as An American in Paris (1951), Lili (1953) and Gigi (1958), and her orbit included many significant participants in the global arts scene. Director Jean Renoir and writer Christopher Isherwood were devoted mentors, and Caron alternately enjoyed and endured a complicated romance with Warren Beatty. The author is a diplomatic memoirist, with mostly good things to say about co-stars such as Cary Grant, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, and she is frustratingly oblique about her displeasure with the likes of Kirk Douglas and David Niven. With her tumultuous marriages and chronic physical and mental-health problems, Caron can come off a bit like a Gallic Elizabeth Taylor, but her melodramatic personal life is tempered by good humor and a refreshing lack of pretension. The actress's fortunes fell when she aged out of leading-lady status, and her attempt to reinventherself as a rustic Burgundy innkeeper reads like a perversely funny distaff Peter Mayle travelogue. Her spirits were revived, however, by a burgeoning writing career and late-in-the-day acting successes in films such as Chocolat (2000) and Le Divorce (2003), and an Emmy-winning turn on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Curiously, this famous dancer has more to say about camera angles than the mechanics of her Terpsichorean art. The little French girl spins an engrossing yarn. Author events in New York and Los Angeles. Agent: George Borchardt/George Borchardt Inc.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452296626
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/30/2010
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 283,455
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Leslie Caron

Leslie Caron is one of the most cherished and admired international film stars of our time. She made her film debut with Gene Kelly in the classic MGM musical An American in Paris, created one of the most enduring roles in American musicals as Gigi, danced with Fred Astaire in Daddy Long Legs, and starred with Cary Grant in Father Goose. She lives in Paris.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Author's Note xiii

1 Childhood 1

2 Paradise Is Called Goyetchéa 16

3 The War 23

4 First Ballet Classes 42

5 The Phone Call 54

6 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 60

7 The Making of An American in Paris 69

8 This New Life 77

9 Under Contract 89

10 Renoir 104

11 Gigi 118

12 Family Life 142

13 The Prediction 157

14 Life with Warren 172

15 Learning Independence 181

16 Marriage Again 188

17 A New Passion 207

18 Black Days-the Eighties 225

19 Changing Track 239

20 Breakdown 254

21 Recovery 258

22 Latest Adventures 269

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 1, 2010

    Beware No Pictures

    This eBook is misguiding seeing as that it does not specify that the eBook has no photos whatsoever. There is no specification that it is just text, instead they tried to pass the eBook as the real deal but it isn't. I was extremely disappointed especially because photos of the actress are so rare. So do not purchase if you are interested in pictures.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    Not bad

    The book was ok but not as enjoyable as i had hoped. Would have liked ro hear more about the making of gigi and lili and an american in paris rather than about her marriages and people i dont know, where she rambles on page after page. Plus why no photographs? Lastly why does every hollywood actor think we care who they voted for? So arrogant.

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