You may not like the book, but you will be impressed by the index. There's Bette Davis and Joe Davis and Sammy Davis Jr. There's Basil Dean and James Dean, Jack Warner of Dock Green and Jack Warner of Hollywood. Jayne Mansfield lines up alongside Mantovani, and Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery is discovered between Maria Montez and Dudley Moore. Kim Novak and Ivor Novello are neighbours, but then so are Mozart and Malcolm Muggeridge, and the French sandwich of Arletty and Yvonne Arnaud contains Anthony Armstrong-Jones. The name of Neville Chamberlain seems to set off a nervous chain-reaction of theatricality, for he is noisily succeeded by Gower Champion, Coco Chanel, Carol Channing, 'Chips' Channon (by no means out of place), and Charlie Chaplin. All the Coopers are there: Lady Diana, Duff, Gladys, Gary and Tommy. There are Douglases, from Lord Alfred to Mr and Mrs Kirk; here are the Nicholses, Beverley and Mike; and you must distinguish, if you will, between Elizabeth Taylors one (actress), two (novelist) and three (friend of Gladys Calthrop). Wilde, Wilder and Wilding mark the beginning of the end; the Duke and Duchess of Windsor make 22 appearances: and in a trickle of Zanucks, Zinkeisens and Zolotows, the torrent ends. It must be one of the most astonishing cast-lists ever appended to a diary. For readers with the autograph-hunting temperament, it is the treat of the year.
LRB 2 December 1982 | PDF Download