Brando to Baldwin, check out these 10 must-read celebrity memoirs
Words by Rob Chilton
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As he waits for the release of Arsene Wenger's My Life and Lessons in Red and White, Rob Chilton picks his favourite autobiographies.
If written with candour, an autobiography can be far more compelling than any fiction concocted by an author. Real-life drama told by someone in a reflective state of mind as they look back on their lives can be touching and often explosive as they reveal a truth, or truths, previously unknown to the public.
Football manager Arsene Wenger has had plenty of ups and downs in his life and this month releases his long-anticipated memoir of his time at Arsenal, during which he changed the landscape of the English game. A thoughtful and intelligent speaker, Wenger will no doubt be just as compelling on the page in My Life and Lessons in Red and White. I’m hoping for philosophical musings on football, in-depth character analysis of the players who played for and against him, and plenty of spicy stuff about Sir Alex Ferguson. Don’t let me down, Mr Wenger. Below are a few more celebrity autobiographies worth a read.
I’ve just finished this fascinating book and – pretty much from the first 20 pages – I knew it would go straight into my favourite celebrity memoirs. Baldwin’s nostalgic journey from a large and happy family life in Long Island, New York, to TV and then movie roles was addictive. With wonderful fluency and honesty, Baldwin describes his difficult relationships with women, his personal struggles, his Hollywood successes (and failures) and peppers the pages with celebrity gossip along the way.
The opening sequence of this book floored me. Rather than start with a witty anecdote involving Boris Becker in the Wimbledon locker room, the loveable Agassi describes a grim scene in which he finds himself lying on the floor of a hotel room crippled with back pain. Brutally honest, Agassi serves up a tale of tennis and trophies, mental anguish, and a complex relationship with his domineering father.
I read the great actor's autobiography in two days while backpacking around New Zealand. I was stuck in Franz Josef on the South Island waiting for the weather to clear so I could skydive. Every day I would look out of the window, secretly hoping for more fog so I could continue with Brando’s mesmerising life story.
Grace Jones races through her extraordinary life story, from a troubled and deeply religious upbringing in Jamaica and then America to her dizzyingly peripatetic adult life as a model, actress and singer. The way she casually moves to Paris or New York, finds an apartment, lands a job, and then spends a memorable night in a club with a gang of the coolest celebrities in the world is truly bewitching.
If you like celebrity anecdotes, this book is absolute box office. Every page of the suave British actor's life story seems to contain an impossibly amusing story about his encounters with famous faces from Hollywood in the 1960s and 70s. Self-deprecating, charming and intelligent, this book proves Niven was a master raconteur.
The Man with Two Brains, Parenthood, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Father of the Bride – Steve Martin is a Hollywood star to millions. But to others, he is one of the founding fathers of stand-up comedy. He invented the concept of stadium comedy gigs and, in this quietly funny book, records his fascinating rise to superstardom.
Like Agassi’s Open, this award-winning book from journeyman footballer Tony Cascarino starts with the painful aftermath of a life spent playing professional sport. Cascarino’s creaking knee joint should spell retirement for the Ireland and Aston Villa forward but, as this memoir describes, Cascarino is desperate to prolong his career. Full Time is filled with football insight and dressing room humour, but is also surprisingly sad and poignant as the player reaches a painful and personal crossroads.
Like 30 Rock, the hit comedy she created, Tina Fey’s best-selling autobiography is fast, crazy, sort of nerdy and ludicrously funny. As she charts her rise from scribbling sketches in the writer’s room to performing in front of the camera, Fey lays bare her insecurities with devastating humour. There’s a sequence with a woman in a New York City nail bar that had me in tears of laughter.
A British national treasure, Stephen Fry is a writer and actor who seems to dance from project to project with ease. Renowned for his giant intellect, Fry takes readers through his time at Cambridge University, his comedy partnership with Hugh Laurie and his dark personal turmoil. Told with great wit and style, Fry takes readers on an anecdote-packed journey through the British comedy scene in the 1980s and 90s.
Love him or hate him, you can't deny Armstrong has had a remarkable life. Writing after the first of his seven Tour de France wins, the Texan cyclist describes his upbringing, his rise to fame and his devastating battle with cancer. Told at breakneck speed and filled with plenty of fascinating stories for cycling fans, every page is stamped with his maniacal drive, a character trait that would eventually lead to his doping shame and - ultimately - his humiliating downfall.
My Life and Lessons in Red and White: My Autobiography by Arsene Wenger is out on October 13
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