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CROWNED HEADS Hardcover – May 12, 1976

3.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett
"The Versions of Us" by Laura Barnett
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 399 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (May 12, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394404688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394404684
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,613,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The crowned heads of the book's title are four actors, each with a story worth telling, else, why did Tryon write this book? We begin with a Shakespeare quote ("uneasy lies the head that wears a crown"). That lets you know this is serious business-- oooh, quoting the Bard, we've got ambition! To the action. The present day, as far as the book is concerned, is not the height of glory for these thespians. No, they've already crested the heights some years ago, and then made way for the new generation to take over. Such is life.

Fedora is first up. The foreign-born beauty who enchanted audiences in the early days of film has always had people wondering, how did she stay looking so young? Read this story and all will be revealed. Next is Lorna, the All-American Cookie. Wow, is this women ever a mess. Mentally ill and off on vacation, what a sad story hers is. Then there's Bobbitt (no relation to John Wayne), a man who was a child star, so often a tragic thing to be. He's dodgy, and you'll find out why and how if you care to. Lastly there's Willie, old Hollywood royalty. He knew all the greats, and was great himself, with the souvenirs to prove it. When company shows up unexpected, horrific things occur.

Tryon's a good writer, although he does go a bit overboard with describing things that don't contribute much to the plot. If you like atmosphere, I suppose that could be a strength; and it does add verisimilitude, that's something, I guess. It's just that I felt bogged down with useless information at some points. Still, there's more pro than con, so I should just shut up and be glad I read a pretty good book.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this when it first came out, having read Tryon's THE OTHER and HARVEST HOME. I'd also been a fan of Tryon's throughout his career with as the lead in "I Married a Monster From Outer Space," with Disney ("Texas John Slaughter" TV series, "Moon Pilot," etc.) and his subsequent films, especially "The Cardinal". He was a great actor. I was bowled over when he quit Hollywood to become a writer, but I'm so happy he did! After the failure of his only marriage, Tryon had a number of homosexual affairs, including one with gay porno star Casey Donovan from 1973 to 1977. Tryon reportedly broke off the relationship as he was uncomfortable being associated with Donovan's fame as a gay porno star.

This is an interesting collection of somewhat related tales that is definitely worth reading. I'd bill it as Tryon's best work after THE OTHER and HARVEST HOME. One story explores the mystery of a seemingly ageless actress. Another is apparently based on gay movie and stage actor Clifton Webb's life-long, love-hate relationship with his mother. But it is the final tale of the four that is the most moving and horrific. It's even more horrific as it is based on a true story, the violent death of silent film star Ramon Novarro. Novarro had several sexual encounters with, most famously, Rudolph Valentino, a Hollywood friend and contemporary "sex idol" of the silent screen. Valentino gave Novarro a jewel-studded dildo, which plays a role in the sad and gruesome tale of Novarro's murder in the 1960s in the hills of Los Angeles. Call this tale horror, but it's based on a very real horror and tragedy.

I highly recommend the book, in particular the final tale.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thomas Tryon is a great storyteller and writer. Before he became a best-selling novelist, he worked as a Hollywood actor. This book is his fourth and consists of 4 novellas of 4 fictional film stars. "Fedora" tells the tale of a Garbo-like actress whose face never ages. This beautifully-written story has the surprise, twisted ending that Tryon is so good at. "Lorna" is the sex-kitten who travels to Mexico where the reader witnesses her deteriorating mental condition. This is my favorite of the 4 stories. "Bobbitt" is the highly successful child actor who grows up to be a strange adult. "Willie" is the typical leading man from the Golden Age of Hollywood who is murdered in his home by heartless, lazy, useless hippies who are a by-product of the social upheaval of the 1960's. Tryon should be ranked as one of America's great storytellers and writers.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
These stories are realistic about the dark underside of Old Hollywood glamour. There are four stories altogether, and the most interesting one is the last one, about an old actor's intense relationship with his mother. However, I had to skip parts of it as the murder details are quite grusome.

Tryon had an excellent sense of what makes people tick and I had trouble putting this book down.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Normally I'm interested in tales of Old Hollywood, but Tryon's book failed to generate any sort of enthusiasm in me. I found Crowned Heads to be very slow and ultimately concerning characters about whom I didn't care.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this when it first came out, having read Tryon's THE OTHER and HARVEST HOME. I'd also been a fan of Tryon's throughout his career with as the lead in "I Married a Monster From Outer Space," with Disney ("Texas John Slaughter" TV series, "Moon Pilot," etc.) and his subsequent films, especially "The Cardinal". He was a great actor. I was bowled over when he quit Hollywood to become a writer, but I'm so happy he did! After the failure of his only marriage, Tryon had a number of homosexual affairs, including one with gay porno star Casey Donovan from 1973 to 1977. Tryon reportedly broke off the relationship as he was uncomfortable being associated with Donovan's fame as a gay porno star.

This is an interesting collection of somewhat related tales that is definitely worth reading. I'd bill it as Tryon's best work after THE OTHER and HARVEST HOME. One story explores the mystery of a seemingly ageless actress. Another is apparently based on gay movie and stage actor Clifton Webb's life-long, love-hate relationship with his mother. But it is the final tale of the four that is the most moving and horrific. It's even more horrific as it is based on a true story, the violent death of silent film star Ramon Novarro. Novarro had several sexual encounters with, most famously, Rudolph Valentino, a Hollywood friend and contemporary "sex idol" of the silent screen. Valentino gave Novarro a jewel-studded dildo, which plays a role in the sad and gruesome tale of Novarro's murder in the 1960s in the hills of Los Angeles. Call this tale horror, but it's based on a very real horror and tragedy.

I highly recommend the book, in particular the final tale.
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