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A Faintly Unpleasant History of the Theatre, for the Delectation and Edification of Ruth Ford...
c. 1970s. Hardcover. Very Good. Title continues: "...Who, with the connivance of Gertz van Eyck, the French Hospital, and God knows whatall has thrust screaming into the world another (probably dumb but inescapably beautiful) actress." Spiral-bound hand-crafted cardstock boards, covered with "gold" leaf; unpaginated, (approx. pp. 50), ilustrated throughout with original collages and handwritten text. Front board scuffed and detached; first 5 leaves detached and laid-in; adhesive stains throughout, though inoffensive -- collages still nice and bright. Handwritten by the author on inside rear board: "Edition limited to one copy on pure gold leaf, 24 K, of which this is No. 1. 'A little learning is a dangerous thing / Too much of it's too much.'" Ruth Ford was quoted as saying, "My life has been too exciting, too wonderful, to let anything else, and that includes acting, come first." It appears that her only child, daughter Shelley Scott, agreed, especially where she was concerned. Shipped off to boarding school and only living at the family's palatial Dakota apartment during the holidays, Scott had a famously fractious relationship with her mother, that resulted in her (and her children) being written out of Ford's will. This bubbling animosity, which began when Scott was young, is amply reflected in the pages of this rather remarkable, and barely restrained, matriarchal broadside. Model actress, muse, and hostess, Ruth Ford's gregarious appetite for life saw her pose for some of the most important photographers of her era, act in plays written by the leading playwrights of her generation, inspire the attachment of avant-garde figures of the day, and establish a salon in her own home that was the talk of the town. She called Cecil Beaton, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, and Andy Warhol her friends, and counted Edward James, Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, and Zachary Scott (her second husband) among her romantic conquests. Attractive and self-advertising, she and her younger brother, the poet Charles Henri Ford, were among the most socially active members of the New York avant-garde art world. Written ostensibly as a "history of the theater," this unique volume -- handmade by Scott, and dedicated to Ruth Ford on the opening page -- is actually a bitterly critical assessment of both Ford's theatrical life and their familial relationship. The first half of the book includes pointed references to Orson Welles and John Houseman (Ford had acted in Welles and Houseman's Mercury Theatre), as well as criticl assessments of the theater in general, various types of actors and performing styles, and where certain actors chose to socialize. In the second half, Scott branches into an acidic account of possibly imagined -- and quite possibly recalled -- conversation(s) with her mother, which begins with Scott asking what is would take for her to be an actress. Ford's supposed answer ranges from pithy phrases such as "charm, schnitzel, schnaps [sic];" ideal body parts, for "all in all, anatomy pays;" the need to "suffer, Suffer! SUFFER!;" and that, in addition to tears, one must also have "pretty scenery, hot baths, and round trips to Bermuda." These are interspersed with other more personal phrases, including "Oh! For goodness sakes, stop asking silly questions," and "Now, dear, don't ask any more questions or PAPA SPANK," which provide a telling glimpse into Scott's view of their association. Peppered throughout with what can be inferred as tightly held inside references, known primarily to Scott and Ford, and copiously and ingeniously illustrated with collaged images from magazines and books, this raucous project provides an almost voyeuristic look into a tempestuous bond, whose final and lasting breakage was exemplified by Scott's answer to a reporter after her mother's death in 2010: "I can't even imagine why you would write about [my mother]. She was 98 years old, so who wants to read about an old woman?"
      [Bookseller: Sanctuary Books]
Last Found On: 2016-04-12           Check availability:      Biblio    

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