|Father and son: Orson Welles and Michael Lindsay-Hogg.|
|Luck and Circumstance: A Coming of Age in Hollywood,
New York, and Points Beyond
By Jesse Kornbluth
Or Michael Lindsay-Hogg?
When I met Michael in 1985, the possibility that he was the son of the genius who co-wrote, produced, directed and starred in "Citizen Kane" was of very minor interest to me.
We never got the movie made. But there were dinners that were almost as satisfying, with Michael talking, talking, and the rest of us listening, listening. He was a great storyteller, and although the stories were about famous people, you never thought he was name-dropping, because his mother was Geraldine Fitzgerald, who was so sensational in "Dark Victory" and "Wuthering Heights," and her friends were Hollywood and theater royalty, and, in a rock and roll way, so was Michael.
And now, all these years later, we have his memoir, "Luck and Circumstance: A Coming of Age in Hollywood, New York, and Points Beyond." It's a curious book. On the surface, it's an exploration of Michael's paternity, about which his mother had persistently lied. His father, she insisted, was Edward Lindsay-Hogg, an English baronet who was tall and dark and thin and lived in Ireland. Michael was to ignore all rumors to the contrary. "We [Orson and I] would go out for dinner together," she told her son. "And you know how people can put two and two together and make three."
Well, they did make three, as Michael learns at the end of the book from his mother's friend and his own sometime lover, Gloria Vanderbilt. I spoil nothing by telling you this, for the link is everywhere in the reviews and publicity. But the frame of the book that reviewers are praising obscures its real charm, which is Michael Lindsay-Hogg, talking, talking for 272 pages. [To buy the book from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle edition, click here.]
|"Rain." "Paperback Writer." "Hey Jude." "Revolution." He did them all for The Beatles. "Jumpin' Jack Flash" for the Stones. And their concert film, "The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus," which didn't see the light of day for 28 years. And "Brideshead." And, and... Scott Fitzgerald said personality was "an unbroken series of successful gestures." Well, for a few decades there, Michael Lindsay-Hogg defined personality. And has the stories to prove it.
I never got her. Not when I was a little boy, she was always earning the rent; . . . not when she'd married my stepfather; . . . and now that Boy [his stepfather, Stuart "Boy" Scheftel] is dead, I could have had her. We could have gone to the theater, or for a walk, or out for a meal together, and I could finally be with her, the two of us only. And now I'll never have her, to myself, alone.
Yes and no. Missed her in life, got her here.
It's the rare memoir you finish and think you really know the people because the writer really knows the people. And more, that he's taken their measure, done the necessary tabulation of flaws and weaknesses, and then decided that the "lies and deceptions" miss the point. The point --- and every tell-all memoir that crosses my desk misses this --- is that he loved them. And, in the process, learned to love himself.
Great story. Beautifully told. Would that there were an audio book so you could hear the voice.