One Man Tango
On an autumn evening a few years ago, Anthony Quinn receives a package from his first wife, Katherine De Mille, daughter of the famous director. At dawn the next day, afraid of what he would find if he opened the box (we later discover it contains photos of his dead son Christopher, diaries, and an essay Quinn wrote in 1935 titled ”How I’d Live My Life”), Quinn hops on his mountain bike and starts pedaling. This is where One Man Tango, Quinn’s autobiography, kicks off.
As the actor winds a path across the seven hills of Rome, the book weaves between past and present. Over 40 kilometers, Quinn reflects on the course of his acting career while trying to outrun his demons. Indeed, what Quinn describes as a cloying fear may be justifiable. He has not always lived like a gentleman, and sometimes comes across as a macho fool. But in taking the reader on his soul-searching ride, Quinn lets us in on the secret fears of a man so closed off from others that Orson Welles called him a one-man tango. While he claims not to understand what Welles meant, Quinn makes clear that for all his romantic entanglements (including affairs with Carole Lombard, Rita Hayworth, and Ingrid Bergman) and professional associations, the Mexican outsider, the cheating husband, has basically danced his life alone.
The one failure of One Man Tango is that Quinn remains closed off from real self-revelation, but with the aid of lyrical cowriting by Daniel Paisner, who also penned Citizen Koch, the actor’s life story makes an engaging summer read. B