"I like to collect knives," says Angelina Jolie, "but I also collect first edition books." At first glance, she might seem to be someone without any secrets, talking openly about her love life, sexual preferences, drug use, cutting, and tattoos--and why she kissed her brother on the lips in public. And yet mysteries remain: What was really going on in her brief, impulsive marriages to Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton, and what is going on in her partnership with Brad Pitt? What's behind the oft-reported feud with her father, the Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight? What drove her to become a mother of six children in six years? And--perhaps most puzzling of all--what about the other side of Angelina: How did this talented but troubled young actress, barely 35 years old, become a respected Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations as well as the "most powerful celebrity in the world" (unseating Oprah Winfrey) on Forbes' 2009 Celebrity 100 list?
The answers that Andrew Morton has uncovered are astonishing, taking us deep inside Angelina's world to show us what shaped her as a child, as an actress, and as a woman struggling to overcome personal demons that have never before been revealed. In this spellbinding biography, Andrew Morton draws upon far-reaching original interviews and research, accompanied by exclusive private photographs, to show us the true story behind both the wild excesses of Angelina's youth and her remarkable work with children and victims of poverty and disaster today.
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Andrew Morton is one of the world's best-known biographers and a leading authority on modern celebrity. His groundbreaking biography Diana: Her True Story was a #1 New York Times bestseller, as was Monica's Story, an authorized biography of Monica Lewinsky, and Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography. The winner of numerous awards, including Author of the Year, his other New York Times bestsellers include an unauthorized biography of Madonna, as well as William & Catherine: Their Story. He lives in London.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
There was a day after moving to Beverly Hills when I truly realized that I could actually marry someone famous.
When Marcia Lynne Bertrand and her family moved to the Hollywood she and her mother had always dreamed about, neighbors in their hometown of Riverdale, Illinois, were more skeptical than jealous. “We couldn’t believe someone we knew was actually moving to Beverly Hills,” recalls Marianne Follis Angarola, a classmate of Raleigh “Rollie” Bertrand’s. “There was some taunting of Rollie, because the idea of moving to Beverly Hills surely had to be a lie!”
Not only was it true, but the family, which shipped out of Riverdale in September 1966, was moving in some style. They had bought a new, four-bedroom, ranch-style home on an exclusive private estate in the hills above Sunset Boulevard, which was developed by Paul Trousdale in the late 1950s. While the parents would have been impressed by the acres of marble floor and the full-height windows that looked over the pool and on to downtown Los Angeles in the distance, as well as by the spacious backyard at 515 Arkell Drive, the Bertrand children were thrilled to be able to write to their friends back home that they lived on the same estate as Groucho Marx, Dean Martin, and Elvis Presley. Of course, no one in River-dale believed them. Local legend has it that Debbie Bertrand even mailed her former school friends some loose change she had taken from the actor Don Adams—then the star of the TV hit Get Smart— to “prove” that she babysat for his children.
Marcia Lynne’s younger brother, Rollie, quickly embraced the Hollywood lifestyle. For his fifteenth birthday his parents, aware of his ambition to be a Formula One racing driver, gave him a red Ferrari sports car—even though he was too young to drive. That little inconvenience did not put the brakes on the young roustabout. When he went on a date with Gina Martin, a daughter of Dean Martin’s, he asked his friend Peter Martini to take the wheel. He clearly enjoyed life in the fast lane. As his friend Randy Alpert, the son of jazz musician Herb Alpert, recalls: “Raleigh was a great guy and a good friend. We had a million fun times in Beverly Hills. Girls, cars, girls, cameras, Wild Turkey, girls, Rainbow Bar and Grill, racing, girls, Martini House, parties, and very often some girls.” A far cry from life in Riverdale.
In her own way, Marcia Lynne was at least as starry-eyed, if not more so, as the rest of her family. Like her mother, she avidly read the tabloids, soaking up the stories about the stars. There was a vicarious thrill about living in the midst of so many celebrities.
Nevertheless, her exciting new life had its social costs. Marcia Lynne was careful to conceal her family’s unglamorous origins from her classmates at Beverly Hills High School, talking vaguely about one day living in New York. Fellow student Adriane Neri remembers Marcia Lynne as “quiet, inconspicuous, one of those artsy people on the edge of things.”
It didn’t take long for Marcia Lynne to absorb the overarching dictum of life in Hollywood: You can be anyone you want to be. After graduating from Beverly Hills High in 1969, she joined the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute and signed with the William Morris Agency to pursue modeling and acting work. She began to affect a more exotic persona, calling herself Marcheline, which she explained was the way her French-Canadian grandmother, Marie-Louise Angelina, pronounced her name. Her family still called her Marcia.
She took to drinking French vanilla instant coffee and collecting French crockery and other artifacts. Just to add an exotic frisson, the family believed that there was a dash of Iroquois Indian in the bloodline, dating back to their French-Canadian settler roots. Certainly with her swooping dresses, embroidered headbands, and long hair, she was a poster child for the hippie generation. As she left her teenage years behind, something changed inside her. She later told a close friend: “There was a day after moving to Beverly Hills when I truly realized that I could actually marry someone famous.”
Marcia Lynne was born on May 9, 1950, to Lois and Rolland Bertrand. Roland had just been named manager of his father-in-law’s bowling alley in Riverdale, Illinois. “Bowling was a heck of a business at the time,” observes local historian Carl Durnavich. “Everybody bowled. You couldn’t get a lane sometimes. People either played baseball or they bowled.”
The nearby industrial town of Harvey was the largest manufacturing base in the country at the time; jobs were plentiful, crime was unheard-of, and everybody knew everyone else in the town of four thousand people. The Riverdale where Lois was raised was straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, complete with white picket fences and roses around the door. Durnavich compares it to the setting of the movie Pleasantville, the story of a saccharine-sweet small town where uncomfortable and unruly thoughts and ideas were shuffled under the sidewalk.
Life in Riverdale was comfortable, secure, and recognizable—if a tad dull. Lois June Gouwens dreamed of getting out, of becoming a star on the silver screen. The highlight of her week was when the glossy movie magazines arrived at the grocery store across the street from the tavern her parents owned. The moment the magazines were unloaded, she would dart to the grocery, reaching up to the rack on the front counter for the latest issue of Movie Mirror and Motion Picture. Then she would curl up in a chair in the family’s apartment above the bar and pore over the photographs of Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Ginger Rogers, and other Hollywood stars of the day.
Lois’s father, Roy Gouwens, had earned his wealth the hard way, working as a cement laborer to save up for the down payment on a mom-and-pop ale house that he and his wife, Virginia, known by everyone as Jean, called the Gouwens Tavern. In the community they had a reputation as straight dealers, honest, hardworking, and dependable. In 1941 they sold the tavern to Jean’s sister and her husband, a deal that enabled Roy and a partner to open the ten-lane Parkview Bowling Alley just as the craze for the sport was taking off.
An only child indulged by doting parents, Lois had a dressing table in her bedroom decked out with a halo of lightbulbs just like in the magazine pictures she had seen of a typical Hollywood star’s dressing room. At night she would spend hours in front of the mirror, carefully pinning her dark hair for the following morning’s cascade of curls, as was the fashion of the day. As she pinned and brushed, brushed and pinned, she made her plans and dreamed her dreams. “One day I’m going to be a movie star,” she told anyone who would listen, including her cousin Don Peters.
After she finished high school in 1946, just after the end of World War II, her parents paid for her to enroll at a modeling school in downtown Chicago run by Patricia Stevens. As she waited for the call from a Hollywood agent or pictured herself on the cover of Vogue, Lois worked in the typing pool of the upmarket Chicago department store Marshall Field. Even the commute into the big city provided an ersatz glamour and a cosmopolitan appeal when contrasted with the familiar faces and unchanging rhythms of her home village. Lois had been born and raised in Riverdale, like her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, her ancestors having sailed for America from Holland during the early nineteenth century.
As a big fish in a small pond, Lois was quite the catch, her family being long established and well-to-do, the nearest thing to aristocrats in a town like Riverdale, where hard work and decorum went hand in hand.
So it was perhaps no surprise when Lois started stepping out with bona fide war hero Rolland “Rollie” Bertrand. It didn’t hurt that he was cute, too, short but with huge, expressive blue eyes. One of three sons of local farmer George and Marie-Louise Angelina, who were descended from the first French settlers in Quebec, Canada, Rolland had served with distinction during World War II, fighting with the First Army in the bloody combat through France and Germany. In November 1944 he was wounded in both legs during the advance on the Rhine and was taken to a military hospital in France.
On returning to Riverdale, he got a job in the bowling alley and soon afterward started dating Lois, their courtship helped by their mutual love of bowling and shared memories of Thornton Township High School in Harvey. When the couple married at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on June 4, 1949, Lois was twenty-one, Rollie four years her senior. For Riverdale society, it is no exaggeration to say that this was the wedding of the year.
After the make-do and mend and rationing of the war years and beyond, the fact that the bride’s Colonial-style satin gown was trimmed with Chantilly lace and had a three-yard train was worthy of note, as was the fact that there were no fewer than seven bridesmaids and seven grooms-men, along with a ring bearer and a flower girl. That her father was able to afford a reception for six hundred at the Steel Workers Club in nearby Harvey, as well as a wedding dinner and breakfast at Fred’s Diner, was a sign that bowling equaled big bucks—with social ambition to match. Even Lois’s wedding shower was attended by more than a hundred local ladies, and the festivities were enlivened by an accordion recital by Hank Slorek. While not quite the Busby Berkeley production Lois might have dreamed of, it certainly made headlines in the local press.
It was not long after the couple’s monthlong honeymoon touring Florida and Canada that Lois became pregnant. For a time after Marcia Lynne was born in May of the following year, they lived with Lois’s parents, Roy and Jean, Rollie learning the ins and outs of the family business. In short order they were able to buy a home of their own, a modest white clapboard house on South Edbrooke Avenue typical for this lower-middle-class community.
If Lois’s dream of becoming a model had been put on hold with marriage and motherhood, it was all but forgotten the following year, when her father, the driving force behind the Gouwens fortune, died suddenly. He was only forty-five. From then on his widow, Jean, was vice president of the family business concerns. Rollie ran the bowling alley, with Lois an active player in the ladies’ league, although her second pregnancy, which brought them another daughter, Debbie, in 1952, hampered her bowling technique for a time. They completed their family in February 1955 with the arrival of their only son, Raleigh.
Around then the expanding Bertrand family moved from their wooden property to a sprawling brick home at 13840 South Wabash Avenue—on the right side of the tracks—that occupied two forty-by-ninety-foot plots. Even in a neighborhood in which no two houses were alike, their new home was a standout because of its size. Lois had had her eye on the five-bedroom mansion since she was a girl. At the same time, their new home was only four blocks from their bowling alley, close to Lois’s extended family and, most important, large enough to house her mother, Jean, who came to live with the family when she was diagnosed with cancer. Lois, who is remembered as a devoted daughter, shouldered much of the nursing burden. The family business was expanding, too; in 1958 Rollie opened another bowling alley, on South Halsted Street in Chicago, where he played host to a national bowling tournament.
As for Lois’s modeling ambitions, from time to time she did make an appearance on the catwalk at local charity events. At one ladies’ luncheon in the summer of 1959, she joined nine other models in a fashion show in aid of the Knights of Columbus. Guests were advised that hats were by Beverly Hats and hairstyles by Ye Olde Haag Beauty Shop. Like many other mothers, however, she was content to channel her thwarted ambition through her daughters, particularly her older girl, Marcia Lynne.
While Marcia Lynne’s father is remembered as “easygoing,” a warm and generous man who liked a drink, Lois was the driving force in the family, an astute businesswoman and an ambitious mother. She wore the trousers in the partnership, brooking no opposition at home or at work. Her husband, passive and unassertive, did not command the respect from his children that was customary in the era of Father Knows Best. Nor did Lois’s behavior toward her husband encourage deference to the patriarch. “Lois was very aggressive and goal-oriented,” recalls her cousin Don Peters. “She had what we call in business a type A personality.” She could chill with a look and knew how to hold a grudge. It was a quality known in the family as the “Bertrand freeze.”
Although Lois was determined that one of her children would make it in the theater or in movies, only Marcia Lynne was as keen as her mother; her younger sister, Debbie, always wanted to be a nurse. Every Saturday morning Marcia Lynne and her mother would catch the electric tram into Chicago for acting, singing, and dancing lessons, and shopping trips to fashionable downtown stores. In time Marcia Lynne signed with modeling agencies. When the Drury Lane Theatre opened in Evergreen Park in 1958, Marcia became a member of the troupe of youngsters.
With her long dark hair and big, wistful blue eyes, Marcia Lynne was seen by many—not just her doting mother—as a naturally pretty young girl. “She was the beauty of St. Mary’s,” recalls Denise Horner-Halupka, who attended the local Catholic school with her. Remembered by her fellow pupils as quiet, unassuming, and pretty, but otherwise undistinguished, Marcia Lynne glided through elementary school and junior high, leaving barely a trace before moving up to Elizabeth Seton High School in South Holland. There is a tinge of envy in the recollections of her classmates, several recalling that she lived in a large house on the right side of the tracks. Friendly but not forward, Marcia Lynne kept any dreams she had to herself.
As the sixties dawned, the Bertrands seemed destined to remain a well-to-do, influential local family whose every social event, from New Year’s Eve dinners to recreational outings to places like Paw Paw Lake, was worthy of note in the local press. They were particularly remembered for their charitable efforts. For example, in August 1959 Rollie took a group of young local bowlers to watch the Yankees play the Chicago White Sox in the company of Hall of Famer Ray Schalk. As a friend of the family explained, it was something of a trade-off: The Bertrands were well aware that they were wealthier than most of the neighborhood but did not wish to appear aloof; they wanted to give back to the community that had made their fortune.
The death of Rollie’s father, George, on September 18, 1962, and Lois’s mother, Jean, just five days later seems to have jolted the family out of their routine. Perhaps there was talk around the family dinner table of new pastures. Certainly when Rollie flew to Oakland, California, in 1964 for a bowling tournament, the wonders of life out West gained a new intensity. It was not long before the Bertrands were California dreamin’. They went on vacation to the Golden State—and liked what they saw.
Of course, they were not the only ones. Thousands of young men who had enlisted during World War II and later the Korean War had enjoyed a taste of paradise out West at the military camps. So many had left the area that there were annual Harvey Day celebrations in various California towns. Several members of Jean’s family—the Kashas—had moved to Arizona. As the thermometer touched thirty below outside, inside the bars and dri...
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