But Astor's personal story wasn't a happy one. Born poor and widowed at 24, Mary Astor had spent years looking for stability when she met and wed Dr. Franklyn Thorpe.
The marriage had been rocky from the start and both were unfaithful, but they did not divorce before Mary Astor gave birth to little Marylyn Thorpe.
What followed was a custody battle that pushed the Spanish Civil War and Hitler's 1936 Olympics off the front page all over America. Although Astor and Thorpe were both ruthless fighters, Thorpe held a trump card: the two diaries Mary Astor had been keeping for years. In these diaries, Astor detailed her own affairs as well as the myriad dalliances of some of Hollywood's biggest names. The studio heads, longtime controllers of public perception, were desperate to keep such juicy details from leaking. At risk from the information in those diaries was an entire fledgling industry. With the support of the Astor family, including unlimited access to the photographs and memorabilia of Mary Astor's estate, Joseph Egan presents a portrait of a great film actress in her most challenging role - a determined mother battling for her daughter, regardless of the harm that her affairs and her most intimate secrets could do to her career, the careers of her friends, or even Hollywood itself.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Chris R on 03-01-17
Enjoyed this book very much. To add to your enjoyment suggest you read Woody Allen's review in The NY Times. Tho the story involves Mary Astor's life, the meat of the story is how important the diaries were in her child custody case and the uproar they caused in Hollywood's Golden era. Book is well written with asides on various celebrities of the mid-1930's. If you are looking for a gossipy tell all, you may be somewhat disappointed, but as a fine human interest story and picture of that era you will be entertained. The courtroom aspect is intriguing and well told and is the center of the story.
Bernadette Dunn does a fine job narrating and really helps draw the listener in.
Good job, nicely written and researched.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
By Gary on 09-03-17
Impossible not to like for old movie buffs
I knew I was going to love this book the moment the author started talking about John Barrymore. At the core of the book it's really just about a child custody case and how it plays out in a courtroom between two loving parents who want custody at any cost, but it's the tertiary stories that pop up in the telling that add so much depth to the court room events.
The only subject I consider myself a real expert at is old movies. I just love learning that Fritz Lang the German Expressionist director who had not yet made an American movie is sitting behind Mary Astor in court proceedings over multiple days in order to provide support and observe the American justice system. If you know Fritz Lang movies, you will instantly realize how appropriate that is. Fritz Lang had not made his first American movie, "Fury", but as with that movie and everyone of his other movies the theme will involve justice and how it can get confounded with vengeance or revenge, an appropriate theme for the principals within the court case going on. Mary Astor's husband, Franklin Thorpe, is friends with Clark Gable. That implies loads of things about Franklin such as he will love hunting and so on.
A couple of things, to me some of the best prose in the book is when the author was obviously quoting from Mary Astor's autobiography written in 1959 (oh how I wish Audible would make that book available, but I live in a fantasy world but I can always hope!) or when they were quoting from Mary Astor's diaries. That woman was an intellectual of the first rank and it shows. The book also gives the listener an interesting peek into human psychology by offering perceptive psychoanalytical perspectives when needed.
It's pretty much impossible for me not to like a book that brings to life all the characters who I still love today such as Groucho Marx, Sylvia Sydney (the star of "Fury"), Frederich March and his wife, John Barrymore and various other and at times bit players from the 1930s both on screen and off screen.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful