Renowned actress and journalist comes to Huntington for a night of film, stories
By Melissa Arnold
Patricia Bosworth has worn many hats throughout her lengthy career, but above all she is a storyteller. She’s written for the most well-known magazines and newspapers in America; she’s penned the biographies of Hollywood greats Jane Fonda and Marlon Brando, among others; and she’s graced stage and screen countless times in fulfillment of her childhood dreams. Now, Bosworth is telling her own story.
On March 15, Bosworth will appear at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington to share her new memoir, “The Men in My Life,” which was released in January.
“At the CAC we often have celebrities come in to talk about their memoirs. Here we have in Patricia Bosworth a true literary talent who is deeply respected,” said Jud Newborn, curator for special programs at the Cinema Arts Centre. “This book has everything juicy in it that you could want surrounding the world of acting, but it’s also a work that can sit proudly on your bookshelf. It’s placed in the context of crisis and transformation during a particular time in our history. It’s intelligent, fiercely honest, and entertaining.”
In a recent phone interview, Patricia Bosworth said she lived a lot of the time in a world of fantasy when she was a little girl.
“I was always imagining, always pretending to be other people,” recalled Bosworth, who grew up in the shadow of her parents’ troubled marriage. Her father, Bartley Crum, saw his law career destroyed after he defended Hollywood’s infamous Big Ten from alleged communist sympathies in the 1950s.
Along with Bosworth’s fantastic imagination came two big dreams — to become a movie star and a writer. Buoyed by the support and love of her family, she set off in search of an acting career. It was not an easy life, however, and Bosworth suffered horrible abuse at the hands of the man she would marry and divorce before her 20th birthday. Shortly afterward, her beloved brother, Bartley Jr., took his own life following a long struggle with his sexuality. Just five years later, Bosworth’s father also committed suicide.
“I named my book ‘The Men in My Life’ after (my brother and father), because they really were the two most important men in the world to me,” Bosworth said. “I’ve spent my life trying to get over these huge losses and feeling guilty about their deaths.”
A self-described workaholic, Bosworth followed the path of many other suicide survivors, throwing herself completely into her career as a means of keeping the trauma at bay. “It was a thrill seeing myself on screen for the first time. It was challenging, and I wanted to change my hairstyle, but I wanted to do more,” Bosworth recalled.
She was eventually invited to join the prestigious Actors Studio in New York City, which allowed her to work with legends including Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Marilyn Monroe and others. It was in Bosworth’s words a “hotbed of creativity,” but it was also the most important workshop in America for recruiting new talent — thanks to skill and good timing, she quickly lined up jobs in television, Broadway and film.
While Bosworth’s resume is far too extensive to list, she singles out a few roles as career highlights. At 23, she played opposite Helen Hayes in a Palm Beach production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie,” where she had the chance to meet Williams and talk about his inspiration for Laura, the character she played. Two years later, she appeared in the 1959 film “The Nun’s Story” alongside Audrey Hepburn, whom Bosworth called “a remarkable actress and beautiful human being.”
Developing close relationships with famed actors made Bosworth an easy choice for writing their life stories. Her first biography was of Montgomery Clift, whom she met as a teenager through her father. Later, she became the first woman to write a biography of Jane Fonda, a dear friend from the Actors Studio.
Bosworth’s career in journalism began with interviewing actors for New York Magazine, but her first mentor was Mario Puzo, author of “The Godfather.” She spent time at a variety of women’s magazines and freelanced for the New York Times for 15 years before becoming managing editor of Harper’s Bazaar and now serves as a contributing editor for Vanity Fair.
In “The Men in My Life,” Bosworth writes candidly about grief, surviving abuse, having a difficult, illegal abortion, and getting to know Hollywood’s finest in a way no one else could. “I wanted to tell my story because while we talk about many of these issues today, they were either considered taboo or rarely discussed (in the 1950s). I’m not the first one to write about this, but these memories have been in my head and my heart for decades,” she explained. “I wasn’t ready before. But now I am, and I’m very glad I did it.”
In addition to sharing the book at the March 15 event, the Cinema Arts Centre will screen the 1951 film “A Place in the Sun,” starring Bosworth’s friend Montgomery Clift and a 17-year-old Elizabeth Taylor.
An evening with Patricia Bosworth will begin at 7 p.m. March 15 at the Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington. A dessert and Prosecco reception will feature local jazz guitarist Mike Soloway and give guests the chance to meet Bosworth. Tickets are $20 for CAC members and $25 for nonmembers. For information, call 631-423-7611 or visit www.cinemaartscentre.org.