It’s not just you: celebrity memoirs really do seem to be more popular than ever. In his own recent memoirs, editor-legend Robert Gottlieb describes how Lauren Bacall and Katherine Hepburn’s tell-all books gave birth to the modern A-list autobiography. Just yesterday, we learned that both Reese Witherspoon and Elton John have inked book deals. Sometimes even the mere purchasing of a memoir incites scandal (see Amy Schumer saga). These days, even B- and C-list celebutantes can rake in the dough for their publishing house, as long as they court the press.
A Real Housewife penning her life story is just as common as a Real Housewife releasing a line of wines, or toaster ovens, or polyester jumpsuits (which is to say, very common). Stars of reality TV have their fingers crossed that their book can ride out the zeitgeist. With a seasoned ghost writer behind them, almost anyone in the spotlight (i.e., anyone getting paid to post a pic of laxative tea on their Instagram) can harvest a hefty sum.
Here is a shortlist of some celebs who haven’t yet jumped on the memoir train, but should. Who knows, maybe next year we’ll see ’em seated at a BEA booth with a line of fans out the Javits doors!
Along with Divine and Cookie Mueller, Mink Stole (aka, Nancy Paine Stole) was there near the very beginning of John Waters’ career, before the mainstream success brought by Hairspray’s musicalization. She’s one of the rare actresses who has appeared in ALL of his films to date, and she’s also co-starred alongside everyone from Karen Black to Natasha Lyonne in her career. She’s probably best known as one of the rivaling neighbors in Pink Flamingos, which has enough salacious tidbits from behind the scenes to fill a book on its own. The memoirs of Mink could easily join the shelves alongside the books of John Waters, Cookie and Divine.
2. Mel Brooks
Maybe it’s nostalgia for Blazing Saddles combined with the recent passing of Gene Wilder, but this quintessential Funny Man needs to commit his surely-hilarious reminiscences to paper. From “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Forum” to “The Producers,” “Young Frankenstein” to “Spaceballs,” we can all spit out at least one quote from these comedy classics. Nevermind the great stories from the making of these movies; gimme scenes from his marriage to the incomparable Anne Bancroft.
3. Roman Polanski
Roman by Polanski (um, what) came out in 1985, but I’d say it’s about time for an update. This one is sure to hit all the right notes of controversy that will have publicity buzzing in the lead up to publication.
All of this happened in this one man’s one life: beyond directing some of the most critically acclaimed movies of the 20th century (Macbeth, Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby), he 1) SURVIVED THE HOLOCAUST, 2) his WIFE was killed by the MANSON FAMILY, 3) he pled guilty to STATUTORY RAPE, and 4) he’s living out the rest of his life under HOUSE ARREST in a SWISS CHALET. (The book, I assume, will not overuse incredulous all-caps.)
4. Robert Downey, Jr.
Talk about life experiences. RDJ may not have the shocking rock bottoms of a Polanski, but he’s certainly suffered some hard knocks. In that murky place after the Brat Pack days and before Iron Man re-shot his star into space, he succumbed to drug addiction and multiple arrests. RDJ is the ultimate underdog, and his memoirs could detail a rags-to-riches-back-to-rags-and-then-like-MEGA-riches-again story for the ages.
5. Yoko Ono
Let’s make this clear: The woman who “broke up the Beatles” has more grooviness in her left sunglass lens that all those Liverpudlian loons put together. Her volume of poetry/life lessons, Grapefruit, is a slim but wonderful thing, and I can only hope her memoirs implement the same poetic weirdnesses and surrealist mandates as her fabulous Twitter account.
Featured photo: Unsplash / Ahmet Yalçınkaya