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Anjelica Huston's memoir is published

1 of 1 Anjelica Huston plays Mrs Conroy in The Dead, with the late Dónal McCann as her husband Gabriel.
Anjelica Huston plays Mrs Conroy in The Dead, with the late Dónal McCann as her husband Gabriel.

Anjelica Huston's memoirs, A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London and New York, have just been published, with volume two expected next year.

The veteran actress - star of The Dead, The Witches, Prizzi’s Honor, The Royal Tenenbaums  and many other highly successful movies – has just  launched the first volume of her memoirs. The book is entitled A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London and New York. The second volume will arrive next year, also published by Simon & Schuster.

Given that this second part will take the story from 1974, there should be interesting material on her fraught relationship with Jack Nicholson, The couple were pictured together, seemingly at complete ease with each other's company at the recent US launch of the book. Jane Fonda, another friend of Anjelica's also attended.

Given that 62-year old Anjelica is the daughter of the celebrated film director John Huston, there is plenty in the book about her childhood spent at the stately home of St Cleran’s, in County Galway. She was, however, born in Santa Monica. California.

Memories of her larger-than-life garrulous father - the hunting, drinking and partying, his girl-friends, his absences – are interspersed with vivid sketches of the countryside and characters around nearby Galway bay. She recalls picking seashells, and watching the currachs coming in, full with their catch of silver mackerel.

Illustrious visitors to St Clerans included Robert Capa, Marlon Brando, Carson McCullers, Peter O'Toole and John Steinbeck. Anjelica’s racy but literate memoir also recalls privileged school-days at Holland Park Comprehensive in London, and later, glitzy French and Italian magazine shoots when she worked as a model.

Luxurious villas in the south of France loom pleasantly in the foreground, and the aspiring actress’s adventures with various suitors in Paris and elsewhere are recalled. As you might expect, the girl can write, this book is avowedly no ghost-written effort. In the acknowledgements, the actress author thanks Paper Mate, “for their brilliant Sharp writer #2 which allowed me to write this book by hand.”

Her first starring screen role was as a a sixteen-year old noblewoman, Claudia in her father’s 1969 movie, A Walk with Love and Death. (Her father seemingly refused to allow his daughter permission to play Juliet in what would prove to be Franco Zefferelli’s numinous and brilliant adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet  - Olivia Hussey eventually got the coveted role.)

The same year, her mother, a one-time prima ballerina named Enrica (née Soma) died in a car accident, aged 39. There are desolate, heart-breaking recollections  of that difficult time included in the account. 

Huston is no diva – at least in print -  and  she reprises a hilarious review pitilessly directed like an unerring torpedo against herself.  "There is a perfectly blank, supremely inept performance by Huston's daughter Anjelica, who has the face of an exhausted gnu, the voice of an unstrung tennis racket, and a figure of no discernible shape," wrote John Simon, reviewing her role in A Walk with Love and Death.

In time, Anjelica Huston acquired the necessary skill and expertise and has proven herself in many memorable films. The actress clearly sees no need to quote  - at least in this first volume - the glowing notices she has received, not least for her role as Mrs Conroy in her father’s directorial swansong, The Dead, which was adapted from James Joyce's short story.

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