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Location: Vero Beach, Florida, United States

My name is Pat and I live in Florida. My skin will never be smooth again and my hair will never see color. I enjoy collecting autographs and playing in Paint Shop Pro.,along with reading and writing. Sometimes, I enjoy myself by doing volunteer "work" helping celebrities at autograph shows. I love animals and at one time I did volunteer work for Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

In Spite of Myself: Christopher Plummer

Now and then I really enjoy a biography, or autobiography, or memoir.  Over the years I've read a number of them.  Not a lot by any means, as I only read the ones I think will interest me.

And so I noted when Christopher Plummer released a book called "In Spite of Myself", and immediately put it on my Amazon Wish List.  

(I mean, what's not to like? He's gorgeous!)

(... well.. most of the time!.. )

Now, for the most part, I do note the dimensions of a book before purchasing it (if it's not hardback, as my eyes aren't very good) and generally I note how large the books is, page wise.

When my son and daughter-in-law sent me an Amazon gift Certificate for Christmas, I, naturally ran right off and spent it!  Among what I received from them was the Christopher Plummer book.  What better then to receive a book when someone else is paying right?  :o)

Upon lifting the book to my lap to look at it closer for reading I couldn't help but notice how heavy the book was.  Wow, I thought, how many pages IS this book?   OMG! it's 656 pages long!!!  Just how much do I like Christopher Plummer to want to read a chunkster like this about one person????!!!

After I got over the shock, and trust me it WAS a shock!, I thought: Ok, I'll start this but the minute it's not interesting or the minute it begins doing nothing but listing movies and what the movies are, I'll quit.  Knowing he was more a stage actor than a movie star I thought it might be interesting to learn about the theater, especially since I have never seen a professional play.

(Anthony & Cleopatra: still gorgeous!)

(portraying Barrymore)

Hardcover: 656 pages
Publisher: Knopf (November 4, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0679421629

The first 130 pages went rather quickly! (hmmmm) and I found them very interesting!  Plummers family history up in Canada reads like a "who's who".  For instance, his second cousin is Nigel Bruce of Sherlock Holmes fame!  And a little piece of trivia is that he worked on radio with John Colicos and Bill Shatner. (someone he would work with again years later) 

An actor you don't forget if you ever saw him, Edward Everett Horton, was the person to first get Mr Plummer work in America.  Soon after he found an agent and worked on televisions shows such as: (an unless you are of the older generation you'd never heard of these)  Kraft Television Theater, Robert Montgomery Presents and Philco Television Playhouse. (see, I told you you wouldn't know them unless you are ..well.. old.)

Seeing as the first 100 pages went so fast I decided to continue on...

Something I found intriguing was reading about actors I know as "movie actors" but now they were stage actors.  It was a whole new view of them, especially when Mr Plummer was talking about them "off stage".

Shortly after getting back into the book I learned that Roddy McDowell would become a lifelong friend, after they worked on stage together.  To give you an idea of what was going on about this time in  his life I will copy a paragraph from the book:

The top 10  new plays of the year were: Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge, Giraudoux's Tiger at the Gates, The Diary of Anne Frank, which made a star of Susan Strasberg at seventeen, and No Time for Sergeants, which marked the debut of that charmer Andy Griffith.  The Ponder Heart by Chodorov, The Chalk Garden by Enid Bagnold, Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker with a towering comic performance by Ruth Gordon and a pixie performance by Robert Morse... and Bert Lahr, equally brilliant in the American premiere of Beckett's Waiting for Godot. There was a little known musical that snuck in called My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison and a young newcomer from Wimbledon named Julie Andrews and lastly, the first big success I was ever in.. The Lark.

During one of the times Christopher was doing Henry the Fifth, his understudy who, when Christopher became sick, went on in his place and was a smash hit was William Shatner. (my eyebrow raised, a bit like a certain Vulcan!)

Mr. Plummer doesn't hide much in the book.  He tells of his lovers and wives but not so much that he obsesses on the topic.  He talks of many of the plays he did, as other actors list their movies, and I have to say I found it more interesting because I had not seen any plays and so as he talked about them I felt I did learn something of the theater as the years rolled by.

Mr Plummer drops names about as fast as raindrops fall during a storm.  Or actually, I should say, the man never forgets who he works with, their name, or things that happened while working together!

I had some delightful surprises when I read where some of the people he worked with, such as when he did Becket, he worked with someone I adore, Roy Dotrice.  And when he was in the movie Fall of the Roman Empire, he worked with Stephen Boyd and Maggie Smith! Be still my heart, as he worked with many people I admire!

He was 36 when he made The Sound of Music. A movie that in the beginning, he was not happy about.  He had changed his mind before the movie was done.

I would tell you that if you like Christopher Plummer's body of work, especially if his stage work interests you, that you should get this book.  He has not lost a bit of his memory of every play he has ever done, nor who he worked with, nor how they effected his life.  I may have set the book aside at some point if he went on and on about the movies he did.  Too many have done that already.   Although he does recall all the plays in much the same way, he has a way about his writing that also lets  you know where he is, and what it's like at that time and place.  He's in Canada, he's in Europe, he's in America.. he's everywhere an actor of his caliber should be.

It's a long book.. so if it interests you, be prepared for it to take some time to read.

He was quite the ladies man, quite a drinker for many years.. and quite an actor!

I'm glad I read his book.  He is a most interesting fellow!  And now I think I shall write him a letter and tell him so!  I will send the photo I have next to the book in the first photo, in hopes that he does autographs.  He may well not, but I'll take the chance.

 TCM (Turner Classic Movies) did an interview with Christopher Plummer about his book that's just fantastic.  If you want to read it please go  HERE.

Here's something odd... I just noticed that Christopher Plummer's daughter, Amanda Plummer, has signed to do the Chiller Autograph show that I always go to!



Blogger Debi said...

I've just recently discovered that I enjoy a memoir now and then, too. But I'm not sure a 600+ page one would make my TBR pile. I'm so glad it was worth the read!

7:36 AM  
Blogger DesLily said...

debi: no it's not for the faint of heart LOL.. even once I was reading it i kept thinking.. soon this will not hold my interst.. but somehoe it did.. I was even amazed lol

7:51 AM  
Blogger cj said...

DesLily -

I think that scene at the gazebo in The Sound of Music is one of the most romantic scenes ever filmed.

Thanks for the review, Pat. Plummer is one of my favorites and I hope you get your photo back!


12:38 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

I would tell you that if you like Christopher Plummer's body ... you could have just stopped there. bwaa ha ha ha

12:53 PM  
Blogger DesLily said...

cj: I was totally shocked to read that he was not a happy camper making that movie. He did come around by the end of it, but still, strange that it would give him so much fame from it.

Pam: back in the day of sound of music you would have that correct! LOL

12:57 PM  
Blogger cj said...

Pat -

Forgot two things:

I had no idea Amanada is his daughter...

and I've nominated you over at


1:31 PM  
Blogger Kailana said...

Well, I have this book on my TBR pile and I did sort of look at it when I receieved it, but I have to be in the right mood to read that many pages! It will happen eventually!

1:41 PM  
Blogger DesLily said...

thank you cj! I'll be posting the award asap!! I was surprised that Amanda is his daughter too.. his and Tammy Grimes.

Kailana: It's one long book Kelly! lol.. and if you aren't interested in stage plays you may well not enjoy the book. It's strange, I love movies and yet many bio's I set down because I tired of them always describing each and every movie..but not knowing stage at all I found it interesting to read Mr Plummer's book.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Now here you are making me want to read something that I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would want to read, lol. Sounds really good. Hope you get that autograph!!!!

6:05 PM  
Blogger Cath said...

Glad you enjoyed this one. I adored him in The Sound of Music but probably not enough to read a 600 page books about him. lol.

6:12 PM  
Blogger DesLily said...

Chris: well unless you really like him AND want to know all about Hamlet and Becket etc. plays, it's not for you! There.. now aren't you happy? lol

Hey Cath: I was shocked I read the whole thing! I mean it's not a book where you want to rush right back to it because it's exciting lol.. but he kept it interesting to me...I smile just thinking of him working with a younger Roy Dotrice!!!

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, indeed, he is GORGEOUS!!!! And HOT!!!!! Love this review! I've got the book but haven't had time to really get into it yet.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

I don't have the book but now I want it! I have always secretly liked him.....he's kind of irresistible AND he's Canadian, we actually have someone kind of hot from our country!! that's kind of amazing, since we seem to specialize in funny nerdy guys (Dave Thomas, Jim Carey, even Keifer Sutherland is kind of funny looking, and how did his dad get to be an actor? It must have been the voice.... so I will put this on my library list for when our bus strike is over - day 45, no end in sight. Thanks for the review, Pat! and the pictures are fab *sighs dreamily*

1:24 AM  
Blogger DesLily said...

Susan: hey Bill Shatner is Canadian and was very handsome !

6:58 AM  
Blogger Ladytink_534 said...

He's SUCH a good actor and he has another one of those voices that you could just listen to forever. I've never seen a professional play either :(

Thought you might like to see these interviews with the author on his book

10:09 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I love him! And I especially loved him in The Sound of Music. He has aged well and I agree with the fact that he has a great voice. I like memoirs but like so many others, not sure a 600 page one is my cup of tea.

11:41 AM  
Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

This sounds like a wonderful book, right up my alley. I love books about The Theatre abd Actors, and I think I have seen him in quite a few, over the years....
Pat, I found it kind of astounding that you have never seen a professional play....I think you would lap it up like a kitten with milk. It's such an immediate wonderful experience--Or, I should say, it certainly CAN be!
I am going to get this book based on your review, my dear...And I thank you!

2:45 AM  
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