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Thank Heaven: A Memoir Hardcover – November 25, 2009


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Thank Heaven: A Memoir + Gigi + An American in Paris
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (November 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021345
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Caron went from Parisian ballerina to Hollywood movie star at 17, when Gene Kelly tapped her for a co-starring role in the 1951 hit An American in Paris. She became a star in the studio system of that era, and via her MGM contract shared billing with Fred Astaire and Cary Grant by day and socialized with Judy Garland and Lena Horne by night. It's been a glamorous life, but, as Caron reveals, not without struggles. She grew up in occupied Paris, her father a French chemist, her American mother a former dancer. Caron never felt good enough for her parents: The path to excellent was clearly indicated, and my insecurity became chronic. Despite her success, she points to insecurity as the root of her decision to date or marry and divorce several controlling men, including meat-packing heir George Hormel II and actor Warren Beatty, with whom she had an affair in the 1960s. Caron provides countless dishy details about her exploits, which are sure to entertain film buffs, Caron fans and aspiring actors. Today, the 78-year-old two-time Academy Award nominee acts in the U.S. and Paris; in 2007, a role on Law and Order: SVU garnered a prime-time Emmy. Caron also runs an auberge, or inn, in France and, she writes, intends to avoid fading into the background. (Dec.)
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From Booklist

Caron’s first movie was An American in Paris. Twice nominated for Academy Awards—for Lili and The L-Shaped Room—she is a graceful and talented actress who’s equally at home in musicals (a song from Gigi gives the book its title) and dramas (she recently won an Emmy for a guest appearance on Law & Order: SVU). But this is more than a typical Hollywood autobiography. Caron begins the book with a lengthy and moving portrait of herself as a girl living in occupied France during World War II, and when she makes the transition from girlhood during the war to young woman learning her craft, the book’s tone doesn’t really change. Rather than approach her life in the public eye from a typically Hollywood angle, Caron writes seriously and passionately about her work, her craft, and her relationships with the people she met along the way. The book won’t appeal to those who like their celebrity autobiographies full of gossip, but it’s sure to strike a chord with those who value classic movies and classic actresses. --David Pitt

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Customer Reviews

Leslie Caron was my favorite actress and dancer.
C. Mathieu
Had to read it, as she has always been one of my favorite actresses.
Miss Langtry
THANK HEAVEN is much like the author herself: classy.
Joseph Albanese

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's hard to believe that Leslie Caron is 78 now, even if her star-making turn as Lise Bouvier, Gene Kelly's unattainable object of desire in An American in Paris was nearly six decades ago. There was a lilting quality to her wide Cheshire grin and gamine screen presence that begged comparison with her most comparable contemporary, Audrey Hepburn. According to Caron, their professional paths only crossed in the casting of the title role of Gigi, which Hepburn coveted but lost to Caron (Hepburn rebounded by getting cast opposite Fred Astaire in another classic musical, Funny Face). Regardless, neither actress led the charmed life that their screen counterparts would lead you to believe, and the French-American actress corroborates this with her sophisticated, reflective autobiography.

Caron represents one of the last remaining bridges to the golden era of MGM musicals, and as such, her eminently readable albeit often cursory book is sprinkled with legendary names beginning with Gene Kelly, who saw her in the Ballet des Champs-Elysées' 1948 production of "La Recontre", a performance he remembered vividly two years later when he returned to Paris in search of a dancing unknown to introduce in An American in Paris (replacing a pregnant Cyd Charisse).
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Irmgard on June 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was delighted to find Leslie's memoirs in print. They should be read fast the first time and then slowly the second time to savor every chapter. This is honest, straightforward, diplomatic, kind and classy and gives a glimpse into the world of Hollywood, the theatre and ballet. I have followed Leslie Caron's life and career for more than 50 years.
In 1957 I worked for Leslie Caron and Peter Hall as cook-housekeeper in their first flat in Hyde Park Square. Winston Churchill had his London residence across the Square. Baby Christopher was just a few weeks old and taken care of by Maria, the Swiss Nanny. The flat was a hospitable place with frequent lunch or dinner guests. I cooked for and served Cecil Beaton, Jean Renoir, Gene Kelly (he had a sensitive stomach and liked my bland soup), John Osborne, Lars Schmidt, Tennessee Williams and others.
When the Hall family left July 3, 1957 for Paris for the outdoor scenes for the movie GIGI, Leslie Caron wore a chic two piece grey suit she had sewn just a few days before. She constantly amazed me with her many talents, including in the kitchen. She taught me to prepare a leg of lamb and I use this method to this day.
The Halls liked to try different dishes; their favorite were Wiener Schnitzel and a Mocha cream dessert which was requested often. The Halls were kind and appreciative and sad when I gave notice.They had hoped I would stay months or years longer but I needed to turn my life into a different direction.
Thank you Leslie Caron for sharing your remarkable life so far. You always were and are a classy lady!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alec Howe on February 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Like many celebrity memoirs, Leslie Caron's vacillates between chapters of personal revelation and chapters of name-dropping and giving intimate parties "for 200 of my dearest friends." How Caron transitioned from a shy, withdrawn fledgling to an in-the-know, well-connected Hollywood player is uncharted in the book, so there are many unanswered questions raised in the reader's mind. The blame for this would appear to lie with Caron's editor. In her opening chapter, she admits that she regretted delving too deeply and that her editor forced her hand in this regard. Not hard enough, perhaps.

That said, the book finally reveals a warmth and humor to the lady that Caron has hidden in interviews during the past 40 years. She has often gone on the record rather bitterly, describing MGM as a brutal factory that allowed no artistic invention on the part of actors, so her sweet, nostalgic recollections of old Hollywood were a pleasant surprise. In particular, Caron sheds new light on Fred Astaire -- beginning with a rather shocking rehearsal photograph that shows Astaire without his hairpiece, a first I believe. As DADDY LONG LEGS was made during a period of intense grief in Astaire's life, Caron was poised to see a side of him not many were privy to, and she reports on it with tremendous, if unexpansive, sensitivity. Again, editors of celebrity memoirs would do well to guide their authors regarding how much or little to reveal. Along with LILI, DADDY LONG LEGS was arguably Caron's finest hour on film, revealing an unbelievably natural, genuine "not even acting" quality missing from her later, more assured performances.
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