Shared from the 4/6/2020 Philadelphia Inquirer - Philly Edition eEdition

Patricia Bosworth, journalist and author


Patricia Bosworth

Patricia Bosworth, a oncepromising actress who later became a journalist and an acclaimed author of biographical studies of self-destructive figures, including members of her own family, died April 2 in New York City. She was 86.

Her death was announced in an appreciation on the website of Vanity Fair, the magazine to which she was a longtime contributor. She died of complications of coronavirus disease.

Ms. Bosworth had a gilded childhood in San Francisco, where her glamorous parents gave parties that included writers and celebrities. Her mother was a novelist, and her father was a well-connected lawyer and White House adviser whose clients included Hollywood stars.

Ms. Bosworth later explored her parents’ complicated lives in a pair of acclaimed memoirs written 20 years apart, Anything Your Little Heart Desires and The Men in My Life.

From childhood on, she grew up in a milieu in which she routinely encountered people who were rich, famous, and influential. Her parents’ dinner parties included labor leaders, politicians, and such cultural figures as Dorothy Parker, Orson Welles, and Paul Robeson.

“I had been raised privileged and spoiled rotten,” she wrote in The Men in My Life (2017), “a combination that gives you a weird perspective about life, as well as an unrealistic confidence and sense of entitlement.”

Ms. Bosworth went on to become a fashion model while still in college, then studied at the Actors Studio with Paul Newman, Marilyn Monroe, and Steve McQueen, who drove her through Central Park on the back of his motorcycle.

She acted on Broadway and portrayed Audrey Hepburn’s best friend in the 1959 film The Nun’s Story before becoming a chronicler of celebrities’ lives in the pages of Vanity Fair and in books.

Her first biography, published in 1978, was about the mercurial and closeted Montgomery Clift, whose intense performances in such films as A Place in the Sun, From Here to Eternity and The Misfits influenced a later generation of film actors. Ms. Bosworth next wrote a biography of photographer Diane Arbus, whom she called “the most mysterious” of her subjects.

Her other biographical subjects included actors Marlon Brando and Jane Fonda. Only belatedly did Ms. Bosworth realize that many of her subjects’ lives — and her own — had been haunted by suicide or reckless behavior.

In her first memoir, she revealed that her younger brother and her father — who shared the same name, Bartley Crum — both died by suicide.

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