A Front Row Seat: An Intimate Look at Broadway, Hollywood, and the Age of Glamour

Univ. of Kentucky. Oct. 2022. 432p. ISBN 9780813196190. $34.95. FILM
Livingston, Oscar-nominated in 1950 for her film debut Sunset Boulevard, appeared in movies and on stage intermittently but the core of her life was focused on marriage and family. First, she wed lyricist Alan Jay Lerner (My Fair Lady)—the third of his eventual eight wives—then the steadier Alan Livingston who, as a vice president at Capitol Records, revived Frank Sinatra’s career, gambled on Nat “King” Cole, and signed both the Beatles and The Band. Readers looking for a memoir of theater or movie life will be disappointed by Livingston’s unenlightening reminiscences. The core of the book is her remembering a long life (she’s currently 93) as the wife of a powerful, wealthy man who brought opportunities to her. Livingston’s description of volunteering at the LA Music Center has much more heat than her bland reminiscences of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe; she also recalls rebuffing sexual advances from Howard Hughes and JFK in her movie days. A disconcerting tic is the book’s tendency to describe in detail each outfit Livingston wore to a big event.
VERDICT A curiously uneven memoir, this mix of serious and trivial will appeal mostly to movie and theater buffs.
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