The Star Dressing Room: Portrait of an Actor

Rand-Smith. Jun. 2023. 366p. ISBN 9781950544387. $32. MEMOIR
This lengthy, third memoir by Shayne (after The Rain May Pass and Double Life: A Love Story from Broadway to Hollywood) beautifully chronicles his career as a young, professional, struggling-but-working New York actor in Broadway’s halcyon period of the ’40s and ’50s. Shayne went on to become the successful Warner Brothers TV president for more than a decade under whose aegis numerous hit shows—Alice, Growing Pains, The Dukes of Hazard, Night Court, and more—were developed. The author, an original cast member of Jean Giraudoux’s The Madwoman of Chaillot and Ricardo Montalban’s understudy in Jamaica, spins one delightful anecdotal story after another, all of which feature a cavalcade of stars, such as Lena Horne, Maurice Evans, Stella Adler, and Charlton Heston. Shayne’s story of being egregiously upstaged in Twelfth Night by a walk-on priest with eight lines played by Marlon Brando is priceless. Woven throughout are leitmotifs of Shayne’s long arc of personal exploration through psychotherapy and significant relationships with men and women that culminate in finding his life partner, Norman Sunshine.
VERDICT A lovely Valentine to Broadway and a moving tale of Shayne’s search for self-acceptance during the not-so-accepting 1940s and 1950s.
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