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May 1, 2007 > There are Worse Things I Could Do

There are Worse Things I Could Do

Book Review by Robert A. Garfinkle

"There Are Worst Things I Could Do"
By Adrienne Barbeau
Carrol & Graff Publishers; 345 pages; $25.00

Do not let the title fool you into thinking that this book is about something scandalous. The phrase is actually the title of the song from the play/movie "Grease". Betty Rizzo, the leader of the Pink Ladies, preforms the song. Why the title for this book, you may ask? Simple, the author of this entertaining memoir is Adrienne Barbeau who played Rizzo in the original New York Broadway cast of "Grease" back in 1972.

Most Hollywood memoirs that I have read tend to be simply a boring rehash of the author's life. Adrienne tells her page-turning story with lots of humor, self-doubt about her talents, the foibles of her love life, funny references to her famous bodily assets, and insights into what it is like to be an actor constantly searching for roles to play. She has created a memoir unlike those other deadly dull entertainer-written works.

Adrienne Barbeau is a native of San Jose. From an early age, she knew that she wanted to be an actor and wrote it all down in her diary. She refers to her childhood notes throughout the book. When times were tough, these messages to herself drove her to reach her goal of success in the grueling world of entertainment. She has had success and failures in both her career as a dancer, singer, and actress on the Broadway stage, TV, and films, and in her personal life. Even with all of her career successes, she has spent most of her life in the pursuit of self-confidence and happiness.

Adrienne took that lack of self-confidence and turned it into an asset. She used it to push herself to work harder to make a success of her career. Even after starring in "Grease" and playing Bea Arthur's daughter, Carol, on the 1970s hit TV show "Maude," Adrienne continued to struggle with this demon. Carol is what made Adrienne Barbeau a household name.

One of the funny aspects of her life that she boldly tells us is how this "sex symbol" lost her virginity. She met a man in a bar who told her he was the famous author Philip Roth. After their date, she never saw him again. Weeks later, Adrienne happened to be browsing the shelves of a bookstore and came upon one of Philips Roth's books. When she looked at his photograph on the jacket, she realized that the man she had slept with was not the author. I feel that it took a brave woman to tell that story of a woman's own gullibility, and she did it with directness, humor, and self-confidence.

Adrienne pulled me into her world, showed me around her life, and left me wanting more when I got to the last word. She writes in a style as if she is talking to you as one of her best friends. I thoroughly enjoyed that and think that you will, too.

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