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Too much politics
on 13 February 2009
I can remember that for a while the `must have' fashion accessory at my school was a triangular plastic Man from UNCLE badge, as worn by the heroes of the then popular US TV series of the same name. Some kids imagined they were Ilya Kuryakin, the Russian spy with the blonde Beatles haircut, who was played by David McCallum, but the others, including myself, pretended to be the suave Napoleon Solo, as played by Robert Vaughn.
Forty years on, Robert Vaughn is still starring on TV, this time in the popular British series, Hustle. In this series Vaughn plays a conman, not a spy, but they are basically the same cool & debonair character, the type that Vaughn as played in countless films & TV series since the early fifties.
Robert Vaughn has had a long & successful acting career then, but there is much more to him than that. When not in front of the camera Vaughn enjoys to study the art of acting and, having read many books on the subject, holds many opinions about it. He is also a very political animal. He was vehemently opposed to the United States conflict with Vietnam in the sixties and was a friend of Robert Kennedy, campaigning on his behalf during his bid to become the US President.
Whilst these interests may make Vaughn a more rounded individual that the average Hollywood star, unfortunately they also make Vaughn's autobiography 'A Fortunate Life' a dull book.
I read this book to learn about Robert Vaughn's acting career and his life. Instead too many pages are devoted to his politics and his theories on acting, which I found very heavy going. Whilst the chapters about his show biz childhood (his parents were both thespians) are excellent, much of his later career his only touched upon, or not mentioned at all. Likewise, whilst he has been married to his life Linda since 1974, she is only mentioned in passing and his adopted daughters, Cassidy & Caitlin get even less coverage.
Many of his anecdotes about his film appearances are excellent, if he would have included more of these at the expense of his political recollections this would have been a much more readable book.