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Center Door Fancy Hardcover – 1972

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440011434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440011439
  • ASIN: B0006C3WUM
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,402,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Samantha Glasser VINE VOICE on July 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Center Door Fancy is the story of Nora Marten, a young girl from a vaudevillian family. Her father Johnny is the hero of the group; he is willing to sacrifice anything for his family's benefit. Her mother Cecilia might not be entirely faithful to her husband, but she never lets her personal interests get in the way of her children's happiness. Nora is optimistic but yearns for the stability that she believes is normal. This is her story, from early childhood through adulthood and three marriages.

Joan Blondell's novel is notorious for being a thinly veiled autobiography. It opens winsomely and seems very much like an idealistic story about growing up. As it progresses, however, it seems that the memories become more vivid and therefore less embellished. Most of the names have been changed, but the true identities are painfully obvious. Blondell is Nora, David is first husband George Barnes, Jim is Dick Powell, Teresa is Marion Davies, Amy is June Allyson, and Jeff is Mike Todd. Knowing their identities makes the reading all the more interesting. Most notably is the split between Blondell and Powell. Anyone who has read Allyson's side of the story will be interested to hear Blondell's which is drastically different. This book will also provide some insight into Blondell's actions which makes her more endearing.

Whether it is read as a work of fiction or as an autobiography, Center Door Fancy is a quick read. It is filled with sentiment, heartbreak, and insight into the world of vaudeville and old Hollywood.
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By A Customer on June 22, 2004
Format: Unknown Binding
Joan Blondell tells her life story in the form of a novel. The names are changed, but we can figure out who is who. It's inventive, clever and revealing. I first read this book 20 or so years ago, and periodically pick it up again to enjoy her wit, wisdom and talent.
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Format: Hardcover
"When Joan Blondell published Center Door Fancy in 1972, it was labeled a novel, but everyone knew better. She maintained that virtually all events in the book were from her life. No one questioned her; the parallels were too transparent.... The roman à clef included her vaudeville trouping childhood, her days as a fizzy comedienne of the talkies, and her doomed marriages." -- from Joan Blondell: A Life Between Takes by Matthew Kennedy

Center Door Fancy is an autobiographical novel by actress Joan Blondell covering her life from her birth into a Vaudeville family until her third divorce. (Click on the "Joan Blondell" tag at the end of this review for reviews of some of her films.)

Except for one thing: the heroine of Center Door Fancy is not Joan Blondell but "Nora Marten." The name of every other major "character" in Blondell's life has been changed, too (with walk-ons like James Cagney and Clark Gable retaining their monikers) -- but, presumably, everything that Blondell writes about really happened.

Blondell doesn't shy away from anything: her attempted rape by a policeman, her multiple abortions during her first marriage, and her third husband's volatile nature are all here. Her childhood and each of her marriages are handled in detail, making it very easy, as Matthew Kennedy states in the quote above, to tell who is who. "Johnny Marten," writer and star of "The Boy Is Gone," is her ambitious vaudevillian father Ed Blondell (writer and star of "The Lost Boy"); "Ceecy Quinn" is her ultrareligious mother, Katie Cain.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book, and have read it many, many times since it first came out. Ms. Blondell was, and still is as alive and vivid as ever in this fictionalized version of her life. Even if you're not a vintage movie fan, you can't help but be drawn into the story of traveling vaudevillians, as seen through the eyes of their eldest daughter. When that same daughter enters the rat-race of 1930's Hollywood...you're HOOKED! The characters are likable, and the story is as lively as a Busby Berkeley Time Step.

Well worth looking for a copy, because you'll read it until it wears out..
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