Picks and Pans Review: Self-Portrait

updated 04/30/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/30/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Gene Tierney with Mickey Herskowitz

Tierney's memoir fittingly begins with an attempt at suicide. Though she was once among Hollywood's most lovely actresses (Laura, The Razor's Edge), she was often on the brink of insanity. "My problems began when I had to play myself," she confesses. Embezzled and deserted by her father, she was ostracized for eloping with designer Oleg Cassini. After contracting German measles from ~a fan, she gave birth to a retarded daughter. She underwent 32 electric shock treatments over six years. Tierney serves up these memories like petits fours on a lace doily. But she glosses over her friendship with Howard Hughes and love affairs with John Kennedy and Aly Khan and barely mentions leading men Gable, Fonda and Bogart. The writing smacks of an elementary-school reader (Herskowitz previously ghosted for Howard Cosell and Dan Rather), more ladylike than Bacall and less impassioned than A. E. Hotchner's Sophia (Loren). Still, it is the compelling story of a decent woman who survived, even if she did not live happily ever after. "Life," she observes at 58, "is not a movie." (Wyden Books, $10.95)

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