Picks and Pans Review: Ginger: My Story

updated 11/11/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/11/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Ginger Rogers

Uh-oh. Rogers, who made 73 movies, including 10 immortal fleet-of-feet films with Fred Astaire, begins her autobiography with a tirade against tell-all celebrity books. "When I refer to my relationships with famous personalities in these pages, I have tried to use discretion and taste," writes Rogers. "My faith in humanity leads me to believe that people are looking for something more elevating than the sordid details of the intimate aspects of one's personal life."

Get real, Ginger. That's exactly what most of us arc looking for in celebrity bios. Fortunately, Rogers manages to tell several snappy and even catty stories, though to find them one has to wade through an awful lot of hackneyed prose ("Looking back at my life's voyage, I can only say that it has been a golden trip").

Her most intimate revelation? When shooting a movie at Paramount, Rogers insisted on bicycling to her home studio, RKO, a block away, to use the more familiar bathroom there.

The first half of the book is better than the second. It covers Rogers's story from her birth in 1911 in Independence, Mo., through her jobs in vaudeville and in Broadway musicals, and her years as a major movie star in the '30s and '40s. The book's second half covers years when Rogers's career was in lower gear (though she did star in Hello, Dolly! on Broadway and in Mame in London). It's filled with snoozy tales of receiving honors, meeting Presidents and christening ships.

As for Astaire, Rogers says plenty of nice things, but gets her digs in as well. According to her, Astaire was rarely enthusiastic about anything, gave her the songs he didn't want to perform himself, was cowed by his first wife, a socialite, and wore a toupee even in the early films. "Our partnership was a limited one only in his case, not in mine," she writes.

Throughout the book, Rogers, a devout Christian Scientist, rhapsodizes about her faith and its power to heal. She credits Christian Scientist Practitioners with curing childhood warts on her hands, curing the warts on the feet of her third husband and curing the boils on the leg and buttocks of her fourth husband. Rogers had five husbands, the most notable of whom was Lew Ayres (No. 2), a fellow movie star who apparently never had a wart problem. (HarperCollins, $22)

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