I'm a sucker for vintage Hollywood character assassination and Langella's book is full of it. Nothing scandalous, just his personal recollections on some famous folks, all dead now. Anne Bancroft
He reserves particular ire for Bancroft: An elegant
stage name, he says, which was "about as suited to her as Cuddles would have been to Adolf Hitler". He first met Bancroft in 1966 when they co-starred in a play.
Although they were close friends for two decades, Langella soon realized she was "consumed by a galloping narcissism that often undermined her talents".
She once told him how she had been in a New York department store when she saw a woman smiling at her. Bancroft felt "inexplicably attracted to the woman and wanted to go over and embrace and kiss her passionately", until she realized she was looking in a mirror.... C'mon Frank! She had to be putting you on. Yul Brynner
No actor ever talked about himself so much, Langella recalls. And perhaps none had so little time for his fans.
The bald-headed actor, "never far from a full-length mirror" once gave Langella and his former wife, Ruth, a lift in his 20ft-long white limo. On the drive, Brynner explained how he’d had a special lift, big enough to fit a car, installed in the Broadway theater where he was starring in The King and I
His chauffeur could drive straight in and spare the star from having to "deal with the public". Brynner even showed off a pair of blinding flash lights which he kept handy "in case blacks attack my car".Rita Hayworth
Rita was 20 years older than him, almost permanently drunk and suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s. She was unable to remember her lines unless they were written in huge block letters and placed next to the camera.
But Langella, then 34, still fell for his co-star, and they began a passionate affair together on the set of the little-remembered 1972 Western called "The Wrath Of God".
The couple, playing mother and son in the film, spent every evening together in her rooms, working their way through endless bottles of bourbon and wine as she reminisced mournfully about the good old days.
"Don’t stare at me, baby. You can see me in the movies," she told him loftily one night, but when he left her for the last time after several weeks, Hayworth ran out to the car and pleaded: "Don’t leave me. I gotta have a man with me"!
Tomorrow: Liz and Dick