Squealing to Survive

John Lahr

  • Black Sunset: Hollywood Sex, Lies, Glamour, Betrayal and Raging Egos by Clancy Sigal
    Icon, 352 pp, £12.99, May, ISBN 978 1 78578 439 2
  • The London Lover: My Weekend that Lasted Thirty Years by Clancy Sigal
    Bloomsbury, 274 pp, £20.00, May, ISBN 978 1 4088 8580 2

‘I love the con, crises are my fuel. It’s the best high … and anaesthetic,’ Clancy Sigal wrote in Black Sunset, a memoir of his Hollywood hustle as an agent in the mid-1950s, representing the interests of Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyck, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor, Joseph Cotten and many lesser lights in the studio firmament. Those of us who knew Clancy – he died in July 2017 in Los Angeles at the age of ninety – can attest that he was a tummler of note, a real-life Zelig who found himself with astonishing frequency at the ringside of history, rubbing shoulders with many of its high rollers and low riders. ‘This is where it’s happening and I’m part of it,’ he said about the thrill of Hollywood in its heyday; the compulsion to be near the hot centre never left his restless heart. Somehow he was always in the frame, writing his name on the barbarous history of his times. ‘Clancy was here’ was the motive for his writing, as his widow, Janice Tidwell, astutely observes in her introduction to The London Lover: My Weekend that Lasted Thirty Years.

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