2000; 275 pages. Full Title : Cybill Disobedience: How I Survived Beauty Pageants, Elvis, Sex, Bruce Willis, Lies, Marriage, Motherhood, Hollywood, and the Irrepressible Urge to Say What I Think. New Author(s)? : Yes. Genre : Autobiography; Non-Fiction. Overall Rating : 8*/10.
Hey, do you remember that great comedy-drama (aka: “dramedy”) series, Moonlighting, starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis? Man, I loved that show. You could tell that there was great chemistry between the two stars. That’s what made the series so funny.
Well if you happen to be a fellow fan of Moonlighting, there’s a whole chapter in Civil Disobedience that focuses on that series, with Cybill Shepherd giving the reader a behind-the-scenes look at the goings-on of a hit show. She devotes even more ink to her subsequent series, the eponymously titled Cybill. Cybill-holics will be both enlightened and amazed.
Oh, and BTW, that chemistry between Bruce and Cybill? It’s strictly in the mind of the beholder.
What’s To Like...
Cybill Disobedience chronicles the life of Cybill Shepherd from birth up through the cancellation of her series, “Cybill”, in 1998. The book is divided up into 12 chapters, whose lengths vary considerably. This is a “tell-all” book; Cybill doesn’t hold back on her family, her fellow Hollywood celebrities, and especially not on herself.
Other than the Prologue, the book is chronological. A new chapter indicates a new stage in Cybill’s life, with some of the topics being : Family Tree, Teenage Sex, Beauty Pageants & Modeling, Making Movies, and Hollywood Sex. Mixed into all this busy-ness are several marriages and divorces, a role as a mistress, a couple of kids and an abortion.
The sex passages aren’t lurid, but are detailed as to who and when. There is a lot of name-dropping, which I liked. Among the people we get to meet (warts and all): Elvis, Dustin Hoffman Ryan O’Neal, Charles Grodin, Joey Bishop, Don Johnson, and many more. The degree of interaction ranges from flirting, to making out, to rolling in the hay.
OTOH, if you’re more interested in the life of a movie star, the book doesn’t disappoint either. Shooting on location in Thailand may sound exotic, but not when there’s no running water or decent food. Trying out for parts means you’re in competition with other attractive and desperate actresses, and it can be quite humbling when you’re passed over for someone else. Even more crushing are the soul-killing, negative reviews
The writing is good, and it is nice to see the ghostwriter getting due credit for her efforts. I loved reading the details, both personal and professional. Barbra Streisand refusing to cut the fingernails on one of her hands for What’s Up Doc?, leading to wardrobe and prop challenges. The “duck walk” at the Peabody Hotel (I’ve seen it!). How she came to get her unusual first name.
Kewlest New Word…
Cynosure (n.) : a person or thing that is the center of attention or admiration.
Others : Sobriquet (n.)
(W)omen who represent the cultural gamut of sizes and ages aren’t too welcome in any media. After nearly a decade of murmuring “I’m worth it” for L’Oreal, I was fired because my hair got too old – approximately as old as I was. It’s okay for Robert Mitchum to get up early in the morning and look like Robert Mitchum, but it was not okay for me to wake up in the morning and look like Robert Mitchum. Fans are always asking why Bruce Willis and I don’t reprise our Moonlighting roles for the big screen. The answer is: studio executives would consider me too old for him now. (loc. 58)
An old Hollywood joke (often repeated with the substitution of different names) lists the five stages of an actor’s career. First: Who is Dustin Hoffman? Second: Get me Dustin Hoffman. Third: Get me a Dustin Hoffman type. Fourth: Get me a young Dustin Hoffman. Fifth: Who is Dustin Hoffman? (loc. 1849)
Cybill Disobedience sells for $0.99 at Amazon, which is a remarkably reasonable price for a tell-all book by a Hollywood headliner. Unsurprisingly, this is Ms. Shepherd’s only literary offering.
Perhaps I have karmic dues to pay for my participation in the cult of emaciated buffness. (loc. 3616)
If you read the reviews at Goodreads and Amazon, Cybill Disobedience gets savaged quite a bit. At both sites, the overall rating barely clears 3.0, which is abysmal, particularly for a non-indie published book. Words like “bitchy” and “spoiled” abound.
When I was about 75% through the book, I still couldn’t see the cause of all the negativity. Yes, there were some cutting remarks earlier, a couple even bordering on being snarky. But nothing really vicious. Then I hit the chapters on the show Cybill. Then I understood.
Cybill Shepherd has some serious bitterness over the handling of that show. Just about everyone – from co-stars to directors to network suits – is viewed as being back-stabbers at best, traitors at worst. Whether this was true or not, I cannot say. But the harshness of Cybill’s words significantly detracts from the classiness of the first 9 chapters.
Finally, and e-book contained a staggering number of typos. It seemed like someone scanned the hardcover book, then didn’t bother to see if the text conversion was accurate. Cybill has no control over this, of course, but you’d think a publishing company could afford at least one editor to proof the electronic version, and fix the errors. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.
8 Stars. Despite the typos throughout, and the rancor at the end, I really enjoyed Cybill Disobedience. I rarely read biographies, and can’t recall ever reading an autobiography before. This one is worth your time.