Friday, April 3, 2009

Valley of The Dolls

For the best of the pill poppin' sixties, you must read Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann. Then you can watch the movie version with Patty Duke as Neely O'Hara (main pillpopper and lunatic) and Sharon Tate as Jennifer North. Anyway, I am here to tell you more about this book that you have heard about. You have probably guessed that "dolls" are pills, so I will fill you in on the rest.
This book is about three chicks who each get really famous in their own ways and then eventually self destruct. The first is Anne Welles. She is a classy brunette from New England and comes to New York to work for an agency that represents Broadway stars or something. Red Headed Neely O'Hara is a kind of scrappy young girl, rough around the edges, who lives down stairs from Anne and gets a part in a Broadway play through their friendship. A beautiful blond showgirl named Jennifer North is in the play as well.
The book is racy because Jennifer had a relationship with another woman in Spain, but the woman was too possessive so she left her. She also married a prince, who wanted her to bone all of these advertising execs to get contracts- what a perv. Jennifer also gets knocked up by a night club singer and has an abortion- all very racy stuff back in the day, and hell, even today. Her "dolls" of choice are barbiturates for sleep. She ends up committing suicide via an overdose of dolls.
Neely O'Hara becomes a famous actress and becomes a total demanding bitch and forgets her humble days. She is a total diva and her dolls of choice are Dexedrine so she can keep her weight under control and stay awake on the movie sets. She also uses barbiturates to go to sleep. She washes them all down with booze to make things worse. She then fucks up her back and gets on Demerol- basically, she is a pill poppin mess, as I said. She ends up in a mental hospital after two suicide attempts and then gets out and steals her best friend Anne's husband. The bitch has no shame.
Anne remains beautiful and classy and becomes a model, falling for all the wrong guys. She is married to a lawyer, who cheats on her with Neely. She isn't as bad was the other two but don't worry, she still pops dolls to fall asleep.
The Neely O'Hara character is said to be based on Judy Garland and Frances Farmer. Jennifer North is said to be based on pin up girl Carole Landis who was romantically involved with the author of the book, Jacqueline Susann, and who committed suicide the same way.
So anyway, there you go folks, a little run-down of the insanity so you don't have to be seen purchasing a bright pink book as I did, in front of several scholars with Starbucks cups and Proust books in hand.