Summer Reading Challenge #1 - Dottie Ponedel About Face

Last summer I signed up for the Summer Reading Challenge that is held over at Raquel Stecher’s Out of the Past blog.  I never got around to posting anything.  This summer things will be different!  The challenge runs from May 23 to September 15, 2019. Here is my first post for the challenge.

Dottie with her pal Barbara Stanwyck (Courtesy Meredith Ponedel)
If you like books or memoirs that are as told to, About Face The Life and Times of Dottie Ponedel is a book that will be right up your alley. I read this via the kindle ebook edition.

From the first page, Dottie’s big personality comes across.  I immediately wished that she had been someone I had had the chace to meet.  What a life!  What a career!  Starting her life in California working a bakery and then as a stunt/extra Dottie found herself drawn to life behind the camera as a makeup artist.  She was a feminist before the phrase was coined. Dottie fought the good fight in what was then, as it often was, the lone woman in a man’s profession. 

Tough when she needed to be, Dottie became sought after as the makeup artist to work on so many stars.  Her personal friendships with the likes of Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Stanwyck and Carole Lombard were great to read about.  The real friendship described in this book was her close friendship with Judy Garland.  She does not dwell on Garland’s dark days, though they are there.  Instead, she focuses on their friendship and provides insights to Garland’s persona.  She touched on the things that made Garland tick.  She also highlighted her dismay in Garland’s lack of care and knowledge regarding saving money and financial security.  Garland had no mindset for any of these details.  Her love of children, games, late nights, drinking, eating and generally having great fun contrasts with the legends of the tragic Garland that looms so large over her legend.  Certainly, that was there, but it was such a relief to read in the first person how much fun Judy was.

Dottie’s life and busy lifestyle was curtailed by her illness that she spent the last decades of her life dealing with.  Her spirit, however, remained very strong and I came away from reading this book wishing I’d had the good fortune to meet her.  The feeling I get from this book was that hers was a life that did have tragedy and personal hardships.  All that being said, it was a life filled with memories and joy.  If first person narratives are your thing, this book is for you.  A delightful read from start to finish.

This posting is part of Raquel Stecher's 2019 Summer Reading Challenge.


Raquel Stecher said…
Thanks for sharing and for your thoughtful review. I have never heard Dottie Pondedel and once you said she was a feminist before the term was invented I was sold. I need to learn more about her. Also I love stories about people behind-the-scenes. Actors/directors are great and all but I want to know about the other folks.

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