Monday, January 30, 2012

My take on: Ali in Wonderland

I remember Ali Wentworth from In Living Color. Back then I thought she was a little ditzy. The characters she played were usually on the dumb side. I thought she must be a little ditzy in real life, too. After reading her book Ali in Wonderland: And other Tall Tales, I realized how wrong I was. She is quite smart and funny.

Who knew her mother was a social secretary for President Reagan. She grew up a privileged kid in the Washington, D.C. area. The tales from her childhood were some of the funniest. When her older sister Sissy ran away while recovering from spinal surgery Ali was tasked with bringing her back. "Ran" away is a loose term. Her sister was still in a full body cast, so she kind of waddled sideways out of the house. Her mother Muffie forced her to go after Sissy, despite Ali emphatically stating she didn't want to runaway, too. The only way Ali could convince her sister to return was by making her laugh. Ali covered herself in a garbage bag, mud, leaves and branches. A little dancing later, and her sister Sissy was on the ground laughing her butt off. The visual made me laugh.

Ali's mother Muffie seems like a bit of a pistol. A person you could sit down with over a cup of tea and have a long conversation. According to her, most problems could be solved by a stay at the Four Season. Ali's future husband, George Stephanopoulos, and her daughters disagreed. They didn't see the point of going to a hotel during a snowstorm. It was just a little hard for Ali to break a long-held habit.

In the early stages of her acting career, Ali was different from her peers. She wasn't a "struggling" actor. She could afford to pay her bills and eat more than ramen noodles. When she bought a home in California it wasn't really her home. Instead her home was overrun with family members and friends who overstayed their welcome. She did her best to break free of the political scene she grew up with. Which made me wonder how she ended up with George Stephanopoulos? He makes a living analyzing the political scene, a scene Ali wanted to get away from. But ultimately, she found the person who was just right for her.

If you're looking for a quick read or a distraction, pick this one up. The lasting image for me will be Ali under siege after throwing package over the gate of the home of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Wouldn't it have made more sense to just ring the bell? Maybe she embellished a little bit, but the story was sure hilarious.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (HarperCollins) in exchange for an honest review.

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