"Don't even try to put it down!" wrote New York Times critic Janet Maslin when movie wunderkind, Robert Evans, produced a memoir that Entertainment Weekly called 'One of the greatest Hollywood Tell-Alls!'"
If you've been keeping up, you know that this hit book was titled "The Kid Stays in the Picture." It was eventually turned into a bonanza film produced by magazine editor Graydon Carter and biz whiz Barry Diller. And it made its author - producer, actor, studio head, female appreciator, Bob Evans, more famous than he'd already been for most of his life.
•NOW a still sexy young octogenarian, the handsome Evans has written a sequel, against all odds. He had to battle back from three strokes and believe in himself while still trying to marry every attractive tall beauty he ever met.
He has produced a fascinating sequel, adding a literary P.S. to "The Kid..." It is a memoir of his struggle from aging and illness, titled "The Fat Lady Sang."
I spent last weekend reading this lovable, almost unbelievable guy's story of his pain at almost dying and working through the paralysis of his strokes, his inability to speak clearly and all the rest. Evans proves again that he is a miracle man. Nobody is more amazed, delighted, exhilarated by late success and more admiring of his own life, than Evans himself. And he has interspersed this struggle with anecdotes and memories of better days when he was the toast of International Society and Hollywood.
This will delight his many admirers who know that any and everybody in the late 20th century knows about Robert Evans because (1) he managed to blow his own horn ( 2.) He was so generous and charming that his fame became everlasting (3) He includes Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Roman Polanski, Dustin Hoffman--movie un-touchables--as his very best friends, always urging him on. (4) His credentials still defy imagination. First, he was a sex-obsessed teenager who mastered B'way beauties as other champs played basketball, eventually he became Hollywood's most celebrated host with his Beverly Hills house and tennis court, after being "discovered" by the beauty Norma Shearer and playing opposite the great James Cagney in his first film, switched from acting with the likes of Ava Gardner and Errol Flynn in Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" to become a producer and eventually a studio head himself, made some of La La Land's historic films -Chinatown"..."Rosemary's Bay"...Love Story"..."Marathon Man"..."Urban Cowboy"..."The Godfather," to name just a few.
And he kept on scoring and marrying some of the world's beauties and bedding the rest. He has a son and grandson from his most admired wife, Ali McGraw. But in this book, Evans is careful not to name names unless the lady (such as Beverly D'Angelo) wants him to do so. He remains the ultimate "gent."
The story of his seduction from an older star femme fatale in an upper berth, while flying the Atlantic in a private jet with the dreaded Walter Winchell asleep in the berth just below, unknowing, is priceless.
•Now I don't think I have ever heard of anyone coming back from three successive, painful agonizing strokes, but I've known Robert Evans long enough to believe he could do it. That he did and kept on being sought after, and made a hit as a public speaker and recorder as a sideline after, is just incredible.
This book tells us that Evans has saved his greatest love for the friend who believed in him and forced him to make a comeback--the Vanity Fair
genius Graydon Carter.
•Evans writes in a slangy sometimes contradictory manner and informally tells tales about a few of the great, noting that he can't get around to the entire lexicon of stars. All the males are his closest friends and he adores every woman he ever met. Or says he does.
I am told Hollywood, even the young 21st century Internet-Hollywood, has been waiting with baited breath for this sequel to Evans' life. He offers good-hearted anecdotes, seeds of scandal, good examples and a few bad ones to guide us.
I loved especially his hand-written dedication in
the front of "The Fat Lady Sang." It reads: "For you, dear Liz, to the sphinx with every secret. Robert Evans."
This makes me wonder how I ever succeeded in my long career and would make many laugh who thought I wasn't enough of a keeper of secrets. I guess Bob thinks it was not telling all that made me interesting.
But he is the master at telling just enough.
The title of this sequel is a misnomer.
The author asks: "Did the fat lady sing? I don't know. Don't wanna know. What I do know is that life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth."
•People are raving about our column of the 21st with its many glorious photos of Elizabeth Taylor. We mention the great Harry Benson as a favorite of La Liz and I must note that Harry is opening in London Feb. 3rd with his latest "Fifty Years Behind the Lens: Photojouralism, Portraits and Beatlemania." The show is at Ely House, 37 Dover Street. It boasts 96 pieces of Harryism!
•OH, incidentally, Ms. Barbra Streisand, always depicted as a naysayer, has given an interview for the coming biography by Brian Kellow of her onetime agent, Sue Mengers. (Played onstage in both Broadway and Hollywood by the one and only
Brian says Barbra "Was very present and engaged and charming--a terrific interview. Her side of the story is quite interesting and I must say, rings true."