Al Pacino’s Sonny Boy and Hollywood’s most colourful tell-all memoirs

The Godfather star will join a list of ageing stars who reveal their best-kept secrets toward the end of their careers

Al Pacino is synonymous with the gangster film genre, having starred in The Godfather, Scarface and Donnie Brasco. Photo: Penguin Press
Powered by automated translation

Say hello to Al Pacino's little pen – the Scarface actor is writing his memoir.

Sonny Boy, due to be published later this year, promises to reveal intimate details of his life from childhood to becoming one of Hollywood's superstars.

Pacino grew up in the Bronx, New York, and worked in theatre before making a name for himself with roles in The Godfather, Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon in the 1970s.

Now aged 83, and having worked in the industry for more than five decades, Pacino's memoir comes at a time when actors often decide to slow down and start revealing more about themselves.

Ahead of Sonny Boy's release, here are some of Hollywood’s most interesting and revealing memoirs.

Me: Stories of My Life by Katharine Hepburn

Four-time Academy Award winner Katharine Hepburn endeared audiences for more than 60 years during her storied career.

After living a closely guarded life, the actress released her memoir in 1991, revealing previously unheard tales.

In the book, Hepburn talks about her life in activism as well as her relationships with her co-stars including Spencer Tracy. She also shared many pictures and images from her private collection, which turned the book into an important historical document.

Hepburn’s distinct voice and character come through the text, making it an intimate and personal experience that is both enjoyable and enlightening.

My Autobiography by Charles Chaplin

Famous for his enduring tramp character, Charles "Charlie" Chaplin is one of the most well-known and familiar faces in the history of cinema.

Chaplin’s memoir, titled simply My Autobiography, was written in his seventies as the cinematic scene around the world was evolving and changing.

Having acted in and directed classics such as The Kid, The Gold Rush and The Great Dictator, Chaplin shares stories and snapshots from his childhood and how it shaped his comedic sense and love of filmmaking.

Chaplin also shares how he did not socialise with his Hollywood cohorts apart from a friendship with actor Douglas Fairbanks.

Written with his famous charm and sense of humour, the book is an intimate look at the life of a man once dubbed by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw as “the only genius to come out of the movie industry”.

Mommie Dearest by Christina Crawford

Joan Crawford was one of the most respected leading ladies on the silver screen from the 1920s to the 1960s.

While revered for her roles in memorable films such as Johnny Guitar and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, the actress cemented her legacy by winning an Academy Award for Mildred Pierce.

In 1978, Crawford’s adopted daughter Christina shared a harrowing and explosive memoir about her relationship with her mother.

Christina’s book, Mommie Dearest, tells of a controlling and ruthless mother who abused her adopted daughter and pushed her towards a life of alcoholism. The book is an unflinching experience of what it is like to grow up with constant abuse from someone who is otherwise beloved by the world around you.

It was adapted into a film in 1981, starring Faye Dunaway as Joan. The film was slated by critics but later became a cult favourite, thanks to Dunaway's performance.

By Myself by Lauren Bacall

Known for her enchanting screen presence, Lauren Bacall was an adored film star in her time.

The actress shared the screen with Humphrey Bogart on many occasions, cultivating an intriguing relationship that was the talk of the Hollywood press for years.

In 1978, years after Bogart’s death, Bacall wrote a memoir about her life and relationship with the film noir star. She also reveals details about an affair she had with Frank Sinatra.

The memoir is told from the point of view of a solemn and contemplative Bacall, recalling her experiences and regrets as she nears her twilight years.

Luckily Bacall still had much to offer after the book’s release, going on to act until the 1990s, and even earning her first Academy Award nomination in 1997 for The Mirror Has Two Faces.

The Richard Burton Diaries

Welsh actor Richard Burton lived what some might describe as a complete life. Acting in the biggest Hollywood productions while travelling the world and engaging in a lifestyle unlike any other.

Burton engaged in an on-again-off-again relationship with Elizabeth Taylor, which became a focal point of the paparazzi in the 1960s. During his life, he kept a diary in which he chronicled his life and exploits, starting in 1939 until 1983, a year before his death.

The diaries were collected and edited for release in 2012. They reveal details of a tumultuous life, juggling art, love and substance abuse. They also reveal layers of a man who’d only shown his outermost layer to the world, with his thoughts and experiences put to bear.

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry

Friends star Matthew Perry died last year.

A year earlier, Perry published a memoir and spoke about his tough upbringing that led to a life pursuing recognition. It eventually drove him to alcoholism and the subsequent drive to remain sober.

Perry also shares stories from his career, most notably his relationship with his co-stars on Friends, and what he did after the show ended.

The book is written in Perry’s deft comedic style and shares stories that are funny at times and heartbreaking at others.

The Beauty of Living Twice by Sharon Stone

After suffering a life-threatening stroke, Sharon Stone reflects in her memoir on that experience as well as the relationships in her life and what that meant to her.

Known for her roles in Basic Instinct, The Quick and the Dead and Sphere, Stone earned an Academy Award nomination for her role in Martin Scorsese’s Casino.

Stone uses the book as a conversation with her fans, describing and contemplating her most famous film roles, and sharing details about her acting process.

She also talks about fighting back after the stroke and choosing to survive and live rather than give in, making for an inspiring and uplifting read.

Updated: March 14, 2024, 3:41 AM