September 06, 1999 12:00 PM

by Diana Douglas Darrid

A familiar face on TV (The Cowboys) and onstage for decades, Diana Douglas Darrid never became a star like her first husband, Kirk Douglas, or their first son, Michael. But she certainly remembered her lines—and everyone else’s—for this frank yet soft-hearted memoir. She writes that Kirk asked her to marry him because he thought it was the only way he could sleep with her. (He was wrong, and their sex was “omnivorous.”) She also notes that the insecure actor began cheating on his bride almost from the beginning. Like father, like son: Michael (who wrote the preface to his mom’s book) was shipped off to boarding school at 14, in part because he had already become a junior lothario.

She shines the same light on herself, detailing an abortion, a face-lift and therapy after the death of her beloved second husband, writer and producer Bill Darrid, in 1992. Darrid is less compelling when dramatizing her lifelong financial worries. She and Bill always seemed to be on the edge of the abyss—yet every other page they are jetting off to ski in Austria or buying another summer home. It’s all relative. And those famous relatives don’t hurt either. (Barricade, $22)

Bottom Line: Though the drama wears thin, a front-row seat

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