Oona Living in the Shadows: A Biography of Oona O'Neill Chaplin

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9780446675413: Oona Living in the Shadows: A Biography of Oona O'Neill Chaplin

Born into a family blessed by genius and plagued by tragedy, Oona lived in the shadow of greatness from an early age. One of the most exquisite and enigmatic beauties of her generation, she intrigued the public for decades. Now, in this stunning biography, new light is shed, at last, on the mystery that was...

OONA

The daughter of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Eugene O'Neill, Oona mixed easily among Manhattan's cafe society and was named New American Debutante of the 1941-42 social season. But at just eighteen she shocked the world by running off to Hollywood and marrying a man thirty-six years her senior: the brilliant and controversial Charlie Chaplin.

From the child who yearned for her absent father's love, to the woman who became the mainstay in an extraordinary marriage; from the dedicated wife and devoted mother of eight to the devastated widow, this book reveals a spirit as fascinating as the geniuses who surrounded her. Extensively researched, Oona's story is rich with exciting insights into her successful union, her world of celebrity--Hollywood in its heyday--and the allure and intellect that made her a heroine in her own right.

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Review:

Like Jackie O, Oona O'Neill (1925-91) captured public attention for two reasons: her impressive familial/marital alliances (she was the sole daughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill and the last wife of filmmaker Charlie Chaplin) and her elegant, raven-haired beauty. The two women also shared vitas that were filled with childhood disappointments, humiliating public attention during crises, and the wrenching deaths of loved ones. But as Jane Scovell's new biography clearly shows, Oona O'Neill Chaplin lacked both the stoicism and personal passion of Jackie Onassis. Hers was a spirit too tender--and fundamentally fragile--to assert itself fully or survive independently for any period of time. Hence the book's apt subtitle, "Living in the Shadows."

With information culled from press clips, interviews with Chaplin's friends and contemporaries, and previous biographies of Eugene O'Neill, Scovell's book paints an engaging portrait of a privileged, potentially fabulous life gone way wrong. Most fittingly for their subsequent tortured relationship, Oona's parents--Eugene O'Neill and writer Agnes Boulton--met in a Greenwich Village bar dubbed the Hellhole. Eight years into their marriage, in which they flitted between Greenwich Village, Bermuda, Provincetown, Maine, and New Jersey, O'Neill abandoned the family life for the erstwhile actress Carlotta Monterey (christened Hazel Neilson Tharsing). Oona was two at the time. O'Neill, a boorish father, saw her only a handful of times before she turned 18; at that point, he disinherited her because he wasn't happy with the oozy publicity she was earning as a New York debutante. That same year, Oona moved out to Hollywood (in the hopes of pursuing an acting career), and met and married Charlie Chaplin, who was facing a scandalous paternity suit at that moment. Chaplin was 54, Oona was 18. She never worked again, and he was at the end of his career. They had eight children (the last when Chaplin was 72), and she stood by him till his death in 1977, spending most of their years together exiled in Sweden, where Chaplin had gone to avoid a host of problems with the U.S. government. After Chaplin's death, Oona returned to the U.S., where she lived 14 depressed, alcoholic years before dying at age 66 of cancer.

There's a breezy, slightly superficial tone to this book, despite Scovell's attempt to elucidate fully the potholes and vistas of Oona's dramatic roadmap. None of Oona's eight children, or close family members, seems to have talked to Scovell, nor did Scovell have any significant access to Oona's correspondence or other writing. Though her dramatic fade is well captured here, Oona never completely blooms in this book. --Jean Lenihan

From Kirkus Reviews:

Devotion to genius characterizes the life of Eugene ONeills daughter and Charlie Chaplin's wife in this respectful overview. Drawing on extensive research, arts journalist Scovell (who has been co-author to Elizabeth Taylor and Kitty Dukakis) moves quickly from the proverbial family tree to chart the messier human trail left by mother Agnes Boulton O'Neill's flightiness and father Eugene's nearly lifelong absence and rejection of their daughter. Aside from a vivid fit of despair, Oona's youthful feelings are not deeply documented here. But her early actions are, as a beautiful New York society girl, Hollywood ingenue, and, at age 18, fourth wife to 54-year-old Chaplin. Though Scovell draws the requisite links between father O'Neill's neglect and Oona's need for Chaplin's adoration, the author doesnt dwell on them. She speculates that the mutual protection offered by the marriage somewhat diminished and compromised the couple's awareness of the world; Gold Rush co-star Georgia Hale even questions their unions perfection. But Scovell, like Oona's friends and family, largely accepts the idea that when a marriage lasts for four decades and produces eight children, one should stop seeking its flaws and instead celebrate its duration. As for whether Oona ever wanted more for herself, Scovells as clear as her research allows. She notes that Oona may have screamed, in her last days, ``What the f did I do with my life!'' but that she never sought artistic parity with Chaplin (and rejected invitations to write a memoir). Hardly a story of marital victimization, this tells instead of how Oona made a choice, lived her life afterward, and in Chaplin probably found exactly what she wanted: ``father, lover, provider and protector.'' Only upon his death did her drinking grow debilitating. Nevertheless, her dependent position and habitual self-effacement inevitably make Oona, however finely realized, a limited subject for a biography. A semi-hidden life of unbroken allegiance, compassionately rendered. (16 pages photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Descrizione libro Little, Brown Company, United States, 2000. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Born into a family blessed by genius and plagued by tragedy, Oona lived in the shadow of greatness from an early age. One of the most exquisite and enigmatic beauties of her generation, she intrigued the public for decades. Now, in this stunning biography, new light is shed, at last, on the mystery that was. OONA The daughter of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Eugene O Neill, Oona mixed easily among Manhattan s cafe society and was named New American Debutante of the 1941-42 social season. But at just eighteen she shocked the world by running off to Hollywood and marrying a man thirty-six years her senior: the brilliant and controversial Charlie Chaplin. From the child who yearned for her absent father s love, to the woman who became the mainstay in an extraordinary marriage; from the dedicated wife and devoted mother of eight to the devastated widow, this book reveals a spirit as fascinating as the geniuses who surrounded her. Extensively researched, Oona s story is rich with exciting insights into her successful union, her world of celebrity--Hollywood in its heyday--and the allure and intellect that made her a heroine in her own right. Codice libro della libreria BZE9780446675413

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