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Thank Heaven: A Memoir
     

Thank Heaven: A Memoir

3.3 12
by Leslie Caron
 

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One of the best-loved stars of classic American cinema tells all in this wry, funny, and poignant memoir

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

Overview

One of the best-loved stars of classic American cinema tells all in this wry, funny, and poignant memoir

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.

In Thank Heaven (an homage to ?Thank Heaven for Little Girls,? the song Maurice Chevalier sings about her in Gigi) Caron shares her remarkable life story. From her childhood with her American mother and French father in occupied France to her early success as a young ballerina; to her meeting Gene Kelly and her years in Hollywood; to her love affairs (including a very funny and very public one with Warren Beatty) and motherhood; to her alcoholism and depression; and finally her recovery and continuing success in film and television, Caron offers an illuminating account of her career.

Thank Heaven is filled with reminiscences of MGM at the end of its Golden Era, of the great stars with whom Caron worked, and of her own struggles as an actress. This is a sharp, unsentimental, and moving memoir for everyone who loves classic American movies.

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.
From the Publisher
“If, hovering around the tell-all memoir genre, another category exists—such as, say, the ‘tell-some’—then Thank Heaven, with its excellent blend of exposure and decorum, falls gracefully within it. Leslie Caron is a good writer with a volume of short stories—Vengeance —under her belt, as well as (as she puts it) ‘a few scripts.’ Her concision, grace, and good taste still leave room for revelations aplenty.”—Kate Light, The Weekly Standard
 
“Caron provides countless dishy details about her exploits, which are sure to entertain film buffs, Caron fans and aspiring actors.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“This is more than a typical Hollywood autobiography… Rather than approach her life in the public eye from a typically Hollywood angle, Caron writes seriously and passionately about her work, her craft, and her relationships with the people she met along the way… it’s sure to strike a chord with those who value classic movies and classic actresses.”—David Pitt, Booklist

“Caron 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… The little French girl spins an engrossing yarn.”—Kirkus

“A record of a lost era of Hollywood that’s littered with respectful anecdotes about the great and the not-so-good, co-stars, friends and lovers… Thank Heaven abounds with A-list anecdotes: about ‘vain’ Dirk Bogarde; Cary Grant (‘very, very nice but capable of sudden fits of real bad temper’) and one of her favorite co-stars, Fred Astaire, who described Ginger Rogers as a sloppy dancer, ‘a little wobbly at the end of a number.’”—Charlotte Heathcote, Express (UK)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101152447
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/25/2009
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
248,062
File size:
443 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

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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Thank Heaven 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
BHalbert More than 1 year ago
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.
Delphimo 4 months ago
Leslie Caron weaves a funny and poignant story of her life in France, in the ballet, and in the movies. Caron's narrative presents a positive voice throughout every ordeal in life. I have read many stories of the German occupation of France during WWII, and Leslie Caron downplays that era of her life. She mentions long lines for food and a little hunger, but does not dwell on the terrible hardship of the French population. Then on her first job doing An American in Paris with Gene Kelly, Caron cuts her hair, and the film production is halted for 3 weeks for her hair to grow. My opinion of Leslie Caron plummeted at that point, but she continues her positive attitude and her enjoyment of her fellow workers throughout the book. The pictures included in the book illustrate Caron’s warmth and generosity.
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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.