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The Girl on the Balcony: Olivia Hussey Finds Life after Romeo and Juliet Hardcover – July 31, 2018
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About the Author
In a career spanning more than fifty years, OLIVIA HUSSEY has portrayed leading roles in films (Romeo and Juliet, Black Christmas, Death on the Nile, Mother Teresa of Calcutta) and celebrated television miniseries (Jesus of Nazareth, The Bastard, Ivanhoe, The Last Days of Pompeii, Lonesome Dove). She also has appeared in Murder, She Wrote and Boy Meets World and done voice work for Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, and the Star Wars video game franchise. For her performance in Romeo & Juliet, she won the Golden Globe for Most Promising Female Newcomer and the David di Donatello Award (the Italian Academy Award) for Best Actress. Born of Argentinean and English ancestry, she lives in Los Angeles.
ALEXANDER MARTIN moved to London after high school and attended the Central School of Speech and Drama with intention of taking up the family business. He appeared in the films Can’t Hardly Wait, 21, and Josie and the Pussycats. A little over a year ago while he was beginning work on his first book, his mother called and asked if he would help with her memoir; it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
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There are lots of other recognizable names in the book, and Ms. Hussey will probably be accused by some of name dropping, which is not what appears to be happening. She has simply worked with and met a lot of well-known actors and actresses, as well as other famous individuals, and wants readers to know what she thought about them. Obviously, she liked working with older, highly respected actors, but interestingly never got involved with much older men. Olivia Hussey saw little of her father while growing up, and her adult life was definitely a mixture of ups and downs. She even followed an Indian guru. Yes, one's first reaction was to roll one's eyes and think "how Californiaish"; but the guru obviously helped her greatly in times of need; and reduced her fears and dependence on alcohol when things got tough. Overall, this is a good read and has one of the best covers ever to grace a memoir.
*Love Theme From "Romeo And Juliet" (A Time For Us)
**She is probably not in that specific issue of "16" since the movie did not come out until October of that year. Notice, though, there are stories in the mag about her first husband, Dino Martin.
***If you want a reply to any comments left, please leave the comments for the review at Goodreads. Amazon no longer sends comment notification e-mails.***
I was haunted by that film. It was ethereal. I wanted a bed for years like the one Juliette had in the movie. It gave me a love for Shakespeare, too. A perfect introduction to the Bard!
Really, one could easily think that life would be perfect if you looked like Olivia Hussey. I had to laugh when I read about Hussey meeting Elizabeth Taylor, and Taylor warmed up to her when Hussey pronounced her something like the most beautiful woman in the world. Taylor had that dramatic ravishing beauty which was striking of a star. While Hussey had a kind of pure beauty. I actually think Elizabeth's daughter Liza Todd and Hussey shared a bit of a resemblance.
But back to Hussey. I always wondered what her life was like after that film. She seemed born to play less worldly roles like Mary, mother of Jesus. And, indeed, in this autobiography, Hussey seems to have a spiritual bent which gives her depth. Her relationship with a spiritual mentor was fascinating, and the role he played in her life.
This is a lively and enjoyable read by a very likable star. Hussey doesn't come across as a diva. She seemed to enjoy the work, and the interesting people she met. I remember when she married Dino, Dean Martin's son, and he seemed to be an unlikely choice for Juliette. So, it was fun to see how the relationship developed, and what attracted him to her. Who wouldn't want to marry Juliette so you could understand her attraction to him.
By marrying Dino, Hussey entered the realm of Hollywood Royalty. So, this book chronicles the people stars she met, what they said and how they acted. And it describes what Hollywood was like in the more innocent 60's and early 70's before the giant tour buses, and stars could pop into the local dime store to buy a magazine or soda without being harangued by fans.
One of the more charming stories is when Hussey met Paul McCartney in England one night. It seems everyone was equally charmed and fascinated by Hussey. Her dinner with Prince Charles is endearing to read about, too. If you lived during this time period, you should enjoy seeing the people and events through Hussey's eyes. You also get a sense of what it is really like working on a film set.
This doesn't seem like a name-dropping story. It's a pretty humble telling of her life and the many challenges. Hussey manages to not get caught up in a drug-fueled existence, or live a particularly lavish, over-the-top lifestyle. In fact, it was the work more than the money which attracted her. And there were challenges with money which you'll read about.
Hussey seems like someone you could enjoy as a friend. There doesn't seem to be much ego on her part. She is grateful for her life, her loves, her adventures and opportunities. When she meets a fellow actor, you think, oh good, it will be great to find out what they were really like. Most who came into her life were quite charming.
I would have gladly changed my life for Hussey's when I was a young girl. Now that I read about it, I realize I wouldn't change places, but I would have loved to have lived many parts of Hussey's life. By reading this book, you feel like you were next to her experiencing it. So, that's what it was like you can think to yourself. Fascinating!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and will recommend it to our library book group. If you always wondered what happened to that luminous girl on the balcony, this book answers that in honesty and insight. It's better than most fiction, and should appeal to many such as fans of that movie, contemporaries of that time period, and young actors entering the field today wondering what it's like creating a film, and what it was like 50 years ago. I haven't seen ROMEO AND JULIET recently. I guess this year is the 50th anniversary of the movie. I'm also imagining it won't feel dated.
This book may persuade you to see the movie again, or watch it for the first time if you haven't seen it.