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Review: 'Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America' by Peter Biskind chronicles conquests, ego

Math teachers could learn a lesson from Peter Biskind in how to make classes more exciting: Just use Warren Beatty's sex life for a lesson on multiplication. "Simple arithmetic," Biskind writes in Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America, "tells us that if he had no more than one partner a night — and often there were several — over a period of say, three and a half decades, from the mid-1950s . . . to 1991 when he met Annette Bening, and allowing for the stretches when he was with the same woman, more or less we can arrive at a figure of 12,775 women."

Biskind, a former executive editor of Premiere magazine and author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, introduces us to a long list. He starts with Joan Collins, who had a hard time keeping up with Beatty's sexual appetite ("He never stops — it must be all those vitamins he takes"). Cher had a one-night stand with Beatty when she was 16 and found him disappointing. The screaming matches in Reds between Beatty and Diane Keaton paled next to their real-life bouts. Also passing through Beatty's revolving bedroom door: Julie Christie, Leslie Caron, Michelle Phillips, Mary Tyler Moore, Carly Simon (was he the inspiration for You're So Vain?), Natalie Wood . . . the list goes on.

In all of those relationships, Beatty comes off as self-absorbed, narcissistic (he washed his hair with a six-pack of beer every morning to keep it shiny), jealous and a control freak. His partners often ended up in psychoanalysis, though he remained friends with many. Biskind also digs into Beatty's fetishes. (Three was never a crowd.)

Between the sexploits, Beatty managed to make movies and is still the only person to manage this Oscar feat, not once but twice: He was nominated as best actor, director, writer and producer for Heaven Can Wait and Reds. (His one win was for directing Reds.) Biskind clearly respects Beatty as one of our foremost film talents. But he seems to regard him as one of the foremost egomaniacs.

Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America

By Peter


Simon and Schuster, 640 pages, $30

Review: 'Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America' by Peter Biskind chronicles conquests, ego 01/23/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 23, 2010 3:30am]
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