DROPPED NAMES: Famous Men andWomen As I Knew Them

FRANK LANGELLA

If you like gossip, especially about movie and theatre people, this is the book for you. Though it isn’t for young people. Most of the people who Langella talks about are dead from  from Bette Davis to Jack and Jackie Kennedy. Many of the names I didn’t recognize so I skipped those parts. Langella is a theater and film veteran — whose many celebrated roles include Count Dracula, Sherlock Holmes and Richard Nixon. We get to observe Laurence Olivier “stinko” on booze, watch Anne Bancroft throw a hissy fit and ogle along as Roger Vadim directs Langella in an intimate scene with Rebecca DeMornay, “as my mouth moved down Rebecca’s throat, across her breasts….”  Anthony Quinn is likened to “a big bully in the school yard or an imperious mob boss”; Charlton Heston is described as having a real-life God complex.  Langella’s affection and admiration for Raul Julia and Noel Coward, though platonic, is almost erotically charged; of meeting Coward, he writes, “Straight-cut or queer-shaped, there is nothing as sexy as rapt attention to your every word.” Paul Newman is described as a beautiful shell but emotionally and intellectually empty, Richard Burton “a crashing bore.”

Not for everyone but gold for some.

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