I enjoyed Wagner's desire to preserve his impressions of a by-gone era of Hollywood in print for future generations. Many of his anecdotes about the places and activities that made up Hollywood's golden era from the 1920s to the early 1960s were amusing and surprising. I was a bit hampered by not really knowing the geography of Los Angeles terribly well, but many of the places he talks about (the Beverly Hills Hotel, Ciro's, Romanoff's, The Brown Derby, Chasen's) are part of Hollywood lore.
He doesn't dish a lot of celebrity dirt, apart from an almost surreal introduction in which Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson stare into each other eyes and hold up Liza Minnelli's wedding to David Gest. Given the ultimate outcome of that unholy alliance, it probably wasn't such a bad thing for Taylor and Jackson to do, but Wagner uses it as a contrast to the more professional (or at least hushed up) behaviour of stars in the 1950s under the studio system. While there is some truth in what he says, the studio system was far from a dream for most of the people who toiled under it. In his attempt to be a nice guy, he glosses over much of what was ugly about the period in which he was a rising star.
This is a wistful, elegiac book written by a man in his eighties who is clearly looking back to what he considers a more ordered time. While he doesn't explicitly bemoan how badly he thinks things have gotten (apart from one self-professed "you-kids-get-off-my-lawn" moment), it's clear that he thinks that it's pretty much been downhill since the 1960s. But Wagner manages to be likable and keep the bitterness quotient way, way down.
The love that he feels for the time period he covers is clearly conveyed and almost makes one wish that it were possible to go back and revisit that time and the people who made it up. He is generally very respectful of the people he talks about, even being rather diplomatic and kind about gossip columnists like Louella Parsona and Hedda Hopper.
This is a fast but enjoyable read for anyone who has an interest in old-school Hollywood.
"In You Must Remember This, legendary actor Robert Wagner offers a nostalgic look at Hollywood's golden age. Though he starts with Liza Minnelli's 2002 wedding to David Gest, that's just a jumping off point to recall better days, back when movie stars were fashionable trendsetters, before the paparazzi were everywhere. Having been in the business for decades, Wagner mixes Hollywood's social history with choice recollections of his own (want to know what aftershave Sinatra wore? Wagner shares that and plenty of other tidbits). The restaurants, hotels, and architecture of Hollywood circa the 1940s and '50s come alive in this charming tribute to days gone by." Popular Culture May 2014 newsletter http://www.libraryaware.com/996/NewsletterIssues/ViewIssue/217e1482-9d78-4d54-9cc6-2b3270c2d832?postId=ca9ebdd2-adec-483c-8400-6611a8e1b44a
I have always been fascinated by tales of the golden age of Hollywood, but even I must admit to a good degree of boredom. Whenyou think of the tales this man could tell, compared to the very weak tea presented to us here......
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