Cybill Disobedience by Cybill Shepherd

October 19, 2010

Summary: Published in 2000, this memoir from Cybill Shepherd and ghostwriter Aimee Lee Ball describes the actress’s life from the time of her childhood in Memphis through her turbulent years in Hollywood, where she was best known for her roles in The Last Picture Show, Moonlighting, and Cybill. Among the topics Shepherd discusses are her beauty and the sometimes unfair judgments people made about her solely because of her looks; the raging alcoholism in her family; and her many, many sexual exploits.

Indeed, Shepherd seems to spend the most amount of time telling about her somewhat open relationship with Peter Bogdanovich, who was her director in Picture Show. Ten years older than Cybill, he was also married when they first met and first slept together. Bogdanovich left his wife for Shepherd and the two became Hollywood’s “most insufferable” couple in the 1970’s. They were only together for something like three years, but Shepherd goes on and on and on about him.

Though most fans my age (mid-thirties) probably know Shepherd best for her television work, she spent comparatively little time dishing about Moonlighting. Sure, she does say a few things about costar Bruce Willis and creator/producer Glenn Caron, but I was really expecting more. She did spend quite a bit of time putting down Christine Baranski from their days on the Cybill set, so if you were into that show, the last part of the book would probably interest you.

Overall, this is a decent memoir that could have benefited from more name-dropping and less talk about sexual encounters with men we’ve never heard of!

Liked:

  • Wow, Cybill was pretty straightforward about a lot of things: about her sex life, about how none of her coworkers ever seemed to like her, and about how she was jealous of Bruce and Christine’s Emmy wins. It takes a lot of guts to come right out and say those things, so Cybill deserves props for that.
  • I do feel as though I know Cybill a lot better after having read this book. If that’s your only goal, you’ll certainly succeed.
  • I enjoyed the discussion of Cybill’s modeling days and how most people in the business told her she needed to stop eating so much or at least use thermogenic fat burners too because she was simply too big. She was 5’10” and 150-something pounds, I think — hardly “too big” at all. Guess not much has changed in what the modeling world considers overweight.
  • The Kindle version was FREE, so I didn’t pay a dime for my copy. That’s always a bonus!

Disliked:

  • I almost feel bad saying this, but as a huge fan of Moonlighting, I kind of wish I’d never read this book. I had my own image of what Shepherd was like, and my image was far closer to Maddie Hayes than Cybill Shepherd. I realize it’s not Cybill’s fault that she’s herself and not at all like the fictional character she played on TV, but still… The real Cybill does not sound like the kind of person I would ever want to know personally.
  • There was a bit too much TMI when telling about her sexual relations. I’m not a prude, but I seriously could have done without the anecdote about how Elvis Presley never went down on a woman until he was with Cybill or that one part about the “Cybill Sandwich” (her words, not mine).
  • It was rather puzzling how cavalierly she treated Bogdanovich’s failing career when he was with her. Apparently, Bogdanovich got offered a lot of plum films after the success of Picture Show, but lost out on them when he insisted that Shepherd be given leading roles. He ended up making nothing but crap after that, and Shepherd hardly even voiced any regret about it.
  • I wanted to give Shepherd the benefit of the doubt in regards to her reputation as being a “bitch” and being “difficult to work with”. You’d think I’d come away from this book–told from her perspective, of course–feeling she was wronged. But honestly, if EVERYONE has a problem with you, then maybe it’s time to assume some of the blame/responsibility.

Rating:

I have extremely mixed feelings about Cybill Disobedience by Cybill Shepherd. On the one hand, I like her less now that I’ve read her memoir, just because she seems to be kind of a selfish, self-absorbed person. On the other hand, it took balls to write something this honest, and even though I might not like the result, I have to give her credit for what she did. I give this book 3 stars out of 5.

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