No one is safe from ridicule in Frank Langella’s new memoir, “Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them.”
From Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman to JFK and Jackie Kennedy, Langella, a lauded film and Broadway actor, dishes out the dirt on some of Hollywood’s most iconic names.
“There will be a fair amount of forks to the eye and knives to the throat,” Langella warns in the beginning of his memoir, which will hit bookshelves Tuesday. The Daily Mail reports that Langella is quite frank with nary a nice word to say about many of the legendary actors and actresses who he encountered during his life.
Langella was most recently nominated for an Academy Award in 2008 for his portrayal of Richard Nixon in “Frost/Nixon.”
Langella first describes aging screen legend Rita Hayworth as an alcoholic with Alzheimer’s disease while filming the 1972 film “Wrath of God.” He says that she could not remember her lines unless they were written in big letters next to the camera. But that didn’t stop Langella from engaging in a brief affair with the actress — who played his mother in the film.
Langella also lashes out at Paul Newman’s good guy reputation: “After dirty-sexy jokes, shop talk, cars or politics were exhausted, Paul was a pretty dull companion. Never rude or unkind, just dull.”
He writes that Rex Harrison was a “real son of a bitch,” and that Sir Laurence Olivier was a “silly old English gent who loved to play camp and gossip.” Langella writes that the original cougar and star of “The Graduate,” Anne Bancroft, was so narcissistic that she once fell in love with her own reflection after seeing it in a department store mirror.
Once at a cocktail party on Cape Cod, he watched in shock as then-President John F. Kennedy danced on a coffee table and asked Langella, “What do you think, Frank? Should I keep my day job?”
The actor also recalls an affair he had with Elizabeth Taylor in 2001, who was 69 at the time. Langella writes that after a date, Taylor said, “Come on, baby, and put me to sleep.” After he helped her up the stairs, he was shocked by the clutter in her bedroom, which supposedly contained dozens of photos of her ex-husbands.
Most of the book is about famous dead people, so there is no mention of Whoopi Goldberg, whom Langella dated from 1996 to 2001. This may have been a strategy to avoid awkwardness at future Hollywood cocktail parties — or any future libel lawsuits.