|Clifton Webb, Actor and Dancer Par Excellence|
As regular readers of this blog know, I am a voracious reader. My favorite reading material are biographies, especially celebrity biographies. Coming in a close second are historical novels. I have little or no interest in fiction nor mystery novels.
The celebrity biographies I have read this year so far are of Ava Gardener, Lucille Ball, Linda Darnell, Tab Hunter, Robert Mitchum, and Maureen O'Hara. I just finished reading "Forever Dobie" which is the autobiography of Dwayne Hickman of Dobie Gillis fame.
All were interesting but totally different writing styles. Some were written by the celebrities themselves and some by authors who never met the celebrities but wrote from interviews with those who knew the celebrities. I enjoy reading all the biographies, no matter how badly they are written and some of them are pretty bad, believe me. To me they are all fun reads.
But now I have found a true gem. It is the biography of Clifton Webb. The title of which is "Sitting Pretty".
Most of the readers of this blog probably don't know who Clifton Webb was. Briefly, he was a somewhat acerbic and prissy actor born in 1889 who played John Phillip Sousa and Mr. Belvedere in films of the Forties and Fifties. I always enjoyed seeing Clifton Webb in a movie. He was the most unlikely leading man type, because of his prissy and effeminate nature. As a ten year old soon to enter my teenage years I found myself oddly in synch with this wonderfully entertaining man. No, he wasn't one of those movie actors that I had a crush on (that would be Farley Granger and Guy Madison) but I did feel "at home" when I saw Clifton on the silver screen.
Thus it was with great joy I discovered that a biography has just been published about him. It is in hardback and costs almost $25! I never pay that much for a book, I usually wait until it comes in paperback. But I just had to have this book so I sprang for the higher price.
I was wondering how the book would read because part of the book is written in Mr. Webb's own hand and the rest was finished by an author who never met Mr. Webb, but instead worked from his numerous notes. Clifton started to write his autobiography but by his own admission became "bogged down" and thus never finished it. His handwritten notes were found in the basement of the daughter of the executor of his estate many years later by the author of this biography.
Clifton Webb never married. It was assumed he was gay but of course back in those days such horrific information would spell the end to a movie career. Most assumed Clifton lived in the closet but there was never any proof that he had any homosexual relationships. He lived with his mother most of his life.
Thus it was a stroke of good fortune that the author of Clifton's biography found his unfinished autobiography and assembled Clifton's notes to publish the first an only biography of this wonderful and fascinating man, Clifton Webb.
Now here is the good part. I started to read Clifton's biography and I am absolutely blown away at what a brilliant writer of prose that Clifton is. Oh how I do love good prose. It is so rare that I find a book that has good prose let alone a book about such an interesting man as Clifton Webb. And what is really good about this book is Clifton's personality burst out of the pages that he writes. WHAT A GOOD BOOK!
I find myself going back over and reading the same sentences and paragraphs just to savor the well honed prose and bask in the fascinating personality of this man.
I don't usually do reviews of books (or movies) but I am doing one now. If you like to read a book about a fascinating man with a deadly, on target acerbic wit; this my friends is the one for you to read.
I wish I could recommend it to my friends but I'm afraid it is all over their heads which is sad. Oh how I wish I had a friend like Clifton Webb today. Now my friends, don't be offended. I love the friends I have and appreciate them but I'm telling you, if I had a friend like Clifton Webb with his wit, charm, intelligence and talent; my head would probably explode.
One thing I know for sure, this is one book I am going to enjoy reading. Just thought I would pass this along to all of you.