Much like a Harold Robbins novel, the first few pages of Cinderella and the Carpetbagger, Grace Robbins’ recollection of what it was like to be the wife of the mega-best-selling author, reach out and grab you by the shirt collar.
Robbins explains that back in the day, she and Harold threw two kinds of parties. The first were in the grand old Hollywood tradition, packed with A-listers and well-covered by the press. The other were secretly convened bachanals, often abetted by the bartending of Scotty Bowers and a large crystal bowl full of cocaine. It is one of these parties that anchors Robbins’ prologue and helps launch her fantastically entertaining throwback memoir:
“Here” was the master bedroom of our ten thousand square-foot mansion in the famous hills overlooking Beverly Hills – a bedroom so enormous most apartments would easily fit within its space…
I saw the door to the bedroom open, very slowly, then wider, the gesture of a Robbins entrance. Suddenly he was there, framed in the doorway, a small man, towel tied around his waist, a naughty smile on his face – a smile I had adored through the years… The girl with chalkboard was an extension of Harold’s continued effort [to live the good life and push the envelope]; she was a Linda Lovelace look-a-like…
“Leave it to Grace and Harold to invite a sex therapist to lecture at an orgy,” someone whispered with a giggle.
From that room full of handsome naked men and beautiful disrobed women, Robbins moves on to other vertiginous tales, ripped from a decadent bygone era. It all starts with (the then) Grace Palermo‘s unbelievably serendipitous 1962 lunch meeting with Robbins in New York City, where she was working as a casting director for Grey Advertising.
Expect to hear a lot more about this book in the coming weeks. Out already in ebook form, the memoir can also be ordered online in hard copy ahead of its official arrival in bookstores Monday April 1. The upcoming promo tour includes a couple of Robbins conversations moderated by Robin Leach. The first is scheduled for The Grove April 11 and the second will take place April 20 at the Rainbow Promenade in Las Vegas.
Beyond that, it seems virtually assured that Cinderella and the Carpetbagger will be atop most people’s beach blanket Kindle list this summer. Harold Robbins passed away in 1997 at the age of 81.
[Jacket cover courtesy: Bettie Youngs Books]
Previously on FishbowlLA:
Scandalous Hollywood Sex Author Finally Does an Interview