While in Philadelphia last week, I dropped into a small independently owned book store to see if I could find anything new and exciting to review for my blog this week. I spied an autographed copy of Master of Ceremonies: A Memoir by Joel Grey and being a sucker for the movie Cabaret, I just crossed by fingers and prayed that I’d find the word “Beatles” in it, or find a way to tie his story to the Fab Four.
Born Joel David Katz in 1932 in Cleveland, OH, Joel Grey knew from a very young age that he wanted to be a theater actor. His father, Micky Katz, was a musician and comedian and his mother was a stage mom! Joel also realized by the age of nine that he was attracted to men, and like Brian Epstein, he would go to great lengths to hide his sexuality. Joel even went to far as to live out his lifelong dream of getting married to a woman and raising a family, all the while having homosexual affairs that, well…he didn’t consider them as affairs. He married Jo Wilder in a friend’s apartment at the Dakota in New York City in 1958. Together they had two children – Jennifer Grey, of Dirty Dancing fame and an adopted son James.
I couldn’t put this book down and if my eyelids would have allowed, I would have finished it within 24 hours of picking it up. Joel tells his story with such honesty that at times I almost felt like a voyeur sneaking peeks into his private life. He talks openly about his marriage, but will leave his readers with an uneasy feeling of, “Do you hear what you’re saying, Joel?”, when he talks about talking care of his wife and family as they lived off HIS fame. There is one rough part in Chapter 8 where he contradicts a couple early statements, but other than that, the book was amazing. I’m so glad I picked it up…
More recently, Joel Grey has taken up photography. You can see his work on his website: http://www.joelgreyphotographer.com.
I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!