Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Self-Portrait” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.04  ·  Rating details ·  594 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Recreating the glamour of Hollywood in the 1940s, the actress tells of the roles she played, the rich and famous men who have pursued her, the failure of her first marriage, and her struggle against mental illness
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published April 1st 1982 by Peter Wyden (first published 1979)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Self-Portrait, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Self-Portrait

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  594 ratings  ·  54 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Self-Portrait
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's a shame that this book is out of print, as it is a very brave autobiography by a remarkable woman. Gene Tierney, one of the most stunning-looking actresses to come out of the Hollywood studio system, had a bright and privileged start in life, and made many high-quality--and a handful of true classic--motion pictures, but her middle life was beset by tragedy, divorce and mental illness. She holds little back in this book, and includes details of her 30-some-odd electroshock treatments, her d ...more
I love how sometimes, a really well-written and interesting autobiography can make you like an actress even more, and want to watch more of her films. This is one of the best autobiographies I've read: very honest, humble and unapologetic. ...more
Linda (not getting friends updates at this time)
I read Ms. Tierney's story years ago after watching her old movies, Laura and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. With a slight overbite, I envied her looks. I never thought she was a fantastic actress but she radiated a haunting quality.

Sadly, her life was not a bed of roses. Her first marriage was to Oleg Cassini, the fashion designer. Her parents were against the union so they eloped. Together, they had two daughters; it was the first time I heard about the effect of German measles in pregnant women. E
Apr 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
A deeply personal, intimate, candid, glimpse of one of Hollywood's most beautiful women during its Golden Age. To limit the review of this autobiography to the above sentence, however, is a disservice. It is a story of fame, but it's also a very human story, a raw, painfully honest look at mental illness: the downward spiral into its darkness, the struggle to endure its consequences & then, finally, to overcome it.

It's been a few years since I've read this book, but, there are still parts of it
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
What a profoundly touching memoir. Gene Tierney is painfully honest about her life and the sadnesses within it, and she and her co-writer put together a story that is not only informative, but beautifully written.

Gene Tierney seemed to be doing well, for the most part, and then it all came crashing down. A selfish fan broke quarantine in order to see her at the Hollywood Canteen, exposing her to german measles, which she caught while she was newly pregnant with her first daughter, Daria. Daria
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
One of the best autobiography written by a Hollywood icon. Simply told, humble, painfully honest and heartbreaking, this book is Tierney's vision of her own life, which oscillates between dream and nightmare. The accounf of her descent into madness is chilling. Because it's Tierney who is writing, the book doesn't analyze what made her such a magnetic presence on screen and why she has become such a cult legend (especially in Europe), but it's not really the purpose of the volume. ...more
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful memoir! Gene manages to be both open & forthcoming without veering into TMI. I'm starting to wonder if a prerequisite for writing a great memoir is having been in therapy? It certainly helps the writer develop the insight and self knowledge needed to write a successful book. ...more
Jul 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing read. Gene talked about her movie life and her life with mental illness. Such a sad read of one of my favorite people.
Brigita Soldo
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english
Any fan of Gene Tierney needs to read this book, it makes you look at her in a new light. Such a brave and humble woman that didn't hold back when writing her memoir. Now onto rewatching all of my favorite classics with this beauty! ...more
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This was such an intriguing and unusually compelling reading experience. Unusual because I can't really pinpoint why I found it so mesmerising. I am a fan, it's true, I am in the process of collecting all Gene's films and I do think she is the most beautiful woman in the world, hands down, no question. But somehow for all of my great fondness, reading her words was something else. I do wonder how much of the narrative was hers only and how much was Mickey Herskowitz the ghost writer. There was a ...more
Celine Godfrey
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
******* SPOILER ALERTS *******
I expected this to be a sugary sweet and immodest autobio by an actress who was beautiful on the surface with no substance underneath. How wrong I was! This is a well written account of her lifelong feelings of abandonment (by her father); her fairly controlling mother; her mental struggles and (drastic, awful & literally shocking) treatments; the tragedy of her first born daughter (severely mentally and physcially disabled following a totally coincidental contracti
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book, as much a look at mental illness and how it was treated in the 1940s and 50s as it is a Hollywood biography. Gene Tierney's story is that of a woman struggling with a completely misunderstood illness in a time when electro-shock therapy was the norm. Her descriptions of the mental asylums where she spent time as well as the way she describes the onset and worsening of her condition are painful and revealing.

A great read for any Hollywood buff thanks to the many anecdote
Feb 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
I saw a "Biography" on Gene Tierney months ago and saw the great films "Laura" and "Leave Her to Heaven". The biography of her tragic life, mental illness, and ultimate happiness after hollywood is not the most fantastic book I've ever read, but she's an actress, not a writer. The book is not chronological, which at times I appreciated. I didn't get a lot of new insight from the book, but it is a nice work from a fine actress who survived a philandering husband (Oleg Cassini), birth of a retarde ...more
Barbara VA
This was just as much a story of a brilliant actress from the golden years as the story of a woman haunted by the demons that sent her to clinics 3 times over 6 years to wrestles with her "weakness". She speaks honestly of the men in her life - Oleg Cassini, Aly Kahn, even JFK, pre Jackie days. I wish there had been more of the movie stories and stories of her co-stars, but think I guess it would have been the same as so many other books. Her struggles with her first born daughter, Daria, we're ...more
Dec 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If there's one auto/bio book you should read this season, this is it. Probably, out of print at the moment but lucky for me to find this in one of Sydney's prestigious old bookshop.

This is amazing read plus photos of one of Hollywood highly respected actress..arguably, hollywood's most beautiful woman during her heyday.

I normally give away books ive read, but this is a must kept.
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I find it quite interesting.....I don't think it is actually very well written but it is an autobiography written by an actress with help from Mickey Herskowitz..... so I do feel I am getting a good window into her life, family and The acting world at the time! My favorite of her films is "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" with Rex Harrison....that is what drew me to read about her! ...more
May 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was a great first person look into one of the most over-looked actresses of the 40s-50s. Star of Laura, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Heaven Can Wait.
It explores her life in controlling Hollywood, her family life and her decent and return from mental illness.
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book about the life of the late actress Gene Tierney - her career and her battle against mental illness! Very insightful and a real gift for people to learn the tragedies that one faces who has a mental disorder. Highly recommended!!!
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A great Book about a great Actress..if you are interested in the Hollywood of the past and of a complex person complex who lives a life read this. You will love it and you will love her..
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Well written book, in my opinion, about a Hollywood legend. She was just as mysterious as her classic character Laura.
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of Hollywood's golden era stars, the stunningly beautiful Gene Tierney will always be best known for her role in the film noir classic, "Laura", playing the title role. She was also nominated for an Oscar as the sociopathic Ellen Harland in "Leave Her To Heaven", but her life wasn't all glamour and glitz. Suffering from what was probably bipolar disorder in a time where mental illness was still totally misunderstood and treated with shame and disgust, Tierney's autobiography is unflinchingly ...more
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
A friend gave me this book and while I was not familiar with the works of actress Gene Tierney it was an interesting biography. Gene was active in motion pictures in the 1940 – 1950’s and truthfully, I think I’ve only seen part of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. She was married to Oleg Cassini and had two daughters one of which was born retarded. She was also a love interest of JFK and Howard Hughes.

What struck me different in this Hollywood biography was how it changed from her life as an actress to
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Gene Tierney was beautiful. She was also troubled.
"I was admitted to three different hospitals-sanitariums, if you prefer- over a period of six years. A dozen doctors treated me. I had a total of thirty two electric shock treatments. During my first confinement, I was taking more medicine than any other patient. So there is hope for everybody."

I've always loved her movies, I had no idea that she'd dated Jack Kennedy - seriously. I requested the book because I'd heard the story of her contracti
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
For a quick read, I picked up Self-Portrait by Gene Tierney. She made a lot of great movies that I have enjoyed. This is an autobiography so Tierney is not to critical of her own movies which makes the reading a little bland. But sadly Tierney was one of the few celebrities that had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Ct. That section of the book, including horrific shock treatments was excellent reading. She comes to a final awareness of what caused ...more
Laura Edwards
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: performing-arts
I usually approach celebrity autobiographies with a great deal of trepidation. Most of these people come off as whiny, self-centered and/or narcissistic. I was pleasantly surprised by "Self-Portrait". Ms. Tierney searches to identify her problem and faces her illness without placing blame or falling into self-pity. A strong and admirable woman who reminds that mental illness should not be hushed up and swept under the rug. Unfortunately, with the current budget cuts in our country, too many peop ...more
woody fanon
May 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-biography
one of the best, well written autobiography. Granted, it's by an actress but the stories are neither shallow or tedious like most actor bio. Discussions of social taboo, mental illness, and kind approach to otherwise, terrible people are unique for this kind of lit. No obnoxious namedropping but gentle and nice stories that you often hear from kindly and wise older figure. Excellent! ...more
Corinne Driscoll
Apr 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Very brave woman who writes openly and frankly about her struggle with depression and mental illness. It's hard to imagine that she was in the throes of an episode as she acted in The Left Hand of God with Humphrey Bogart. That was her last movie for 5 years, and she spent much of that time in three different hospitals. Glamorous lifestyle isn't necessarily glamorous. ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it liked it
I love Gene Tierney as an actress, so I thought I would love this book. There's sections that are fascinating, such as Tierney's relationship with JFK and her daughter. I'm not sure if it's the writing, but the majority of this book is flat. Tierney's story of her severe depression did not feel sincere and in my opinion slightly vain. ...more
Lisa Tangen
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written. We've always admired Gene Tierney's work and especially in Her filmed the razor's Edge. At times her descriptions of her struggle with mental illness were very frightening. It was a well-crafted book in the story will told about a life filled with Rich experience. I appreciate her willingness to tell her story candidly in a time when the stigma of mental illness was sharp. ...more
Dec 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Found this in a used bookshop shortly after seeing the film noir Laura last year (and becoming a bit fixated with Gene). It's interesting not only if you're curious about Old Hollywood but as a memoir of her spiral into mental illness. ...more
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Camera Never Blinks: Adventures of a TV Journalist
  • All My Octobers: My Memories of Twelve World Series When the Yankees Ruled Baseball
  • Catcher in the Wry
  • Laura
  • Me: Stories of My Life
  • Little Weirds
  • Black Like Me
  • The Basketball Diaries
  • Year of the Monkey
  • Private (Private, #1)
  • The Sopranos Sessions
  • Untouchable (Ravenswood #2)
  • Fear of Flying
  • Shipped
  • Erasure
  • Otherearth (Last Reality, #2)
  • The Crystal Crypt
  • You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!: A Self-Help Book for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder
See similar books…
Gene Tierney was born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 19, 1920, to well-to-do parents. Her father was a very successful insurance broker and her mother was a former teacher.

By 1938 she was performing on Broadway in "What a Life!" and understudied for "The Primerose Path" (1938) at the same time. Her wealthy father set up a corporation that was only to promote her theatrical pursuits.

After b

News & Interviews

Care to travel to past times for some serious drama? Check out this season's biggest historical fiction novels and be transported to tales of...
73 likes · 21 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“She's another Deanna Durbin,' [Harry] Cohn said, 'except that she can't sing.” 2 likes
“I can't honestly say I ever forgave my father for what I considered his "mistakes." He hurt
us terribly. But time has a way of tempering bitterness. My brother owes his drive and success
to him and I know I do. He gave us the best kind of education and encouraged each of us to be
More quotes…