Tony Curtis 'Plays God' Chairman Mao, and Actor Julie Eisenhower Quotes

After 28 years in Hollywood, actor Tony Curtis has cast himself in the role of a novelist. His first book, Kid Andrew Cody and Julie Sparrow, will be out in March. Of the title characters, both men, Cody becomes a Western movie star and Sparrow a gangster. Double-day says the book, which opens in 1924 and continues through the ’60s, has “some of the finest descriptions of making movies that any of us is likely to read.” And why not? Curtis, 51 (above, with wife Leslie), has played in 65 films. Already at work on a second novel about three women who come to Hollywood during World War II, Curtis says, “I love writing. I love playing God and controlling the actions of my characters. It isn’t like in movies where I’m just a hired hand.”

“The novel is about modern man, a lost man. New York City is full of them,” says Robert Penn Warren, talking about his first novel in five years. A Place to Come To will be a Literary Guild selection in March. Warren, 71, lives with his wife, writer Eleanor Clark, in a converted Connecticut barn. Author of All the King’s Men, and the only writer to win Pulitzer Prizes for both poetry and fiction, the Kentucky-born Warren has created a hero from the rural South, a womanizing classics scholar who becomes world-famous. Warren says he got the idea in France in 1971. “I began to dream it,” he says. “Whole scenes came to me.”

“I was missing for a couple of years,” Joan Didion says about the ordeal of finishing her third novel, A Book of Common Prayer. Author of the best-selling Play It as It Lays, Didion, 42, has written again about contemporary angst. Her heroine, Charlotte Douglas, the wife of a radical lawyer, goes off to Central America in search of her teenage daughter who is wanted by the FBI for skyjacking. Didion and her husband, John Gregory Dunne, conceived the idea of a rock version of A Star Is Born, but they dropped out as scriptwriters early on.

In 1963 the young American actress Jean Seberg married French novelist Romain Gary, a man twice her age. They were divorced in 1970. Now 62, Gary has written his 22nd book, Your Ticket Is No Longer Valid. The hero is a 59-year-old industrialist with problems, one of them the energy crisis which is hurting business. When he falls in love with a 23-year-old beauty, impotence drives him to consider suicide. Already a best-seller in France, it will be published here in April. “Let us say that I attach great importance to the sexual act,” Gary explained in Paris. “But I believe that sexuality at any price is a perversion. I wrote a love novel.”

while her father works on his memoirs, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, 28, is putting the final touches on her own book, Special People. Due in May, it consists of interviews with such notables as Mao Tse-tung, Golda Meir, Prince Charles and Mamie Eisenhower (and the not so well-known Mrs. Billy Graham). “They are all very different,” says Julie, “but all had ideals that guided their lives.” In January Julie and husband David, who live in both Gettysburg and Manhattan, will head for Abilene, Kans. to do research for his book on Grandpa Ike.

John Cheever, 64, and his wife, Mary, live in Ossining, N.Y., the home of Sing Sing prison. Cheever, who once preferred “a very secluded, boozy life in the woods,” has stopped drinking and is accepting lecture invitations. At home, he says, “If I’m not writing or reading I skate, swim, visit, walk with my dogs and eat.” In March admirers of Cheever’s Wapshot family novels and Bullet Park can visit another affluent (and agonized) family in suburbia. It is the dark tale of a dope-addicted head of household named Farragut who commits murder and is sent to a prison like Sing Sing. Falconer is the name of the place and the book.

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