Memoirs ... misty, watercolor memoirs ... of the way they were
Erika Girardi released her celebrity memoir last week.
Let’s rephrase that: The celebrity known professionally as Erika Jayne has released a memoir.
Yep ... still not helping.
OK, let’s clear this up: Erika Girardi — who admits in confidential promotional material on Amazon.com that without her alter-ego, Erika Jayne, she’d be just “another rich bitch on a plane” — has released “Pretty Mess,” what’s billed as her “first memoir” and tells the story of how she made the “decision to accept a role on reality television” as one of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”
Yep ... me neither.
One of life’s greatest guilty pleasures is the celebrity autobiography ... not to READ, mind you; but just to scan past on a store shelf, or in a bargain bin, or to use beneath the short leg of a coffee table. Sure, some of these tomes have been fun to read — memoirs by the singer Patti Smith and screenwriters Larry Gelbart and William Goldman come to mind — but for every book recounting the life of a legendary performer, there are scores by the Erika Girardi/Jaynes of the entertainment world: Folks trading in on their time in the spotlight to receive one more round of media attention ... before, in some cases, making the difficult decision to accept roles on reality television.
When I had a collection of such obscurities, one of my prized possessions was an autographed copy of “Accordion Man,” the autobiography of Myron Floren, the “happy Norwegian” who for 32 years was the righthand man for band leader and television star Lawrence Welk.
Never read a word of it but, since it had been given to me by friends who knew of my interest in such books, it remained a prized possession until it disappeared during a move — along with “Vicki!: The True-Life Adventures of Miss Fireball” by Carol Burnett doppelganger Vicki Lawrence, “Super Joe: The Life and Legend of Joe Charboneau,” about a one-year wonder for the Cleveland Indians, and so many others.
My wife denies any knowledge of how the books disappeared.
These days, I’m content to leaf through the internet to see who’s spinning their tales. Among the many household names (at least in their own households ... rimshot) writing memoirs — their first, or otherwise — are David Lynch, Vivica A. Fox, Nick Nolte, Rose McGowan, Geraldo Rivera, Questlove, Phil Knight, Louie Anderson, Retta, Ron Guidry, Marcia Gay Harden, Mike Epps and Amy Dickinson (author of the syndicated “Ask Amy” column that appears daily in the Mail Tribune, along with papers nationwide.)
And then there are the books by the friends, family, lovers and assorted hangers-on who were in the orbit of someone who actually was famous.
There’s the self-observant work, “Famous People Who’ve Met Me: A Memoir By The Man Who Discovered Prince,” by ... well, the man who apparently discovered Prince; as well as “Ghostbuster’s Daughter: Life With My Dad, Harold Ramis,” by the daughter of Harold Ramis; and “Like Brothers,” by the filmmaking siblings known as The Duplass Brothers.
But for sheer audacity, nothing beats the title of another upcoming memoir ... “As Time Goes By: Living in the Sixties with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Brian Epstein, Allen Klein, Mae West, Brian Wilson, the Byrds, Danny Kaye, the Beach Boys, one wife and six children in London, Los Angeles, New York City, and on the road.”
Which reminds me, apparently there is no memoir from Dooley Wilson, the piano player who sang “As Time Goes By” in “Casablanca” ... although there was a children’s book called “Dooley Wilson” that, while not about the man who would be Sam, was written by Durward Kirby — yes, the famed second banana from “The Garry Moore Show” and “Candid Camera” who not only wrote two autobiographies (“My Life. .. Those Wonderful Years!” and “Bits and Pieces of This and That,” but also served as the inspiration for the magical hat known as the Kerwood Derby in “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.”
But enough of that about this; to get our floundering fan mail back on track ... and back to where we started, in Beverly Hills, where Girardi/Jayne’s first memoir can’t hold a candle to the reigning queen of the celebrity autobiography. That, of course, would be Tori Spelling — the daughter of the legendary television producer, third-girl banana of the original “Beverly Hills 90210,” and star of the famed Lifetime thriller “Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?”
Spelling has written five memoirs — including titles such as “sTORI TELLING,” “UNCHARTED TERRITORI,” and “Spelling It Like It Is” — and has accepted roles on three reality television shows where she portrayed herself, and one VH1 sitcom, “So NoTORIous,” where she portrayed a fictionalized version of herself.
On top of all that comes word that Tori and “90210” co-star Jennie Garth (memoir, “Deep Thoughts From A Hollywood Blonde”; reality series, “The Jennie Garth Project”) are in the early stages of a reboot of the “90210” franchise — an adventure from which you’d have to believe there’ll be a book (or two) in there somewhere.
Mail Tribune senior designer Robert Galvin, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, is looking forward to not reading “Two’s Company,” the third memoir by Suzanne Somers.