Joseph Cotten’s story begins in Tidewater, Virginia, moves on to an episode as a Miami potato salad tycoon and then brings us to his first big break as an actor, in the New York theatre. Cotten describes how he met the flamboyant Orson Welles- at a radio audition at which Welles set a wastepaper basket on fire- and their involvement with the Mercury theatre. This led to Cotten’s first film role, as Orsons co-star in Citizen Kane, quickly followed by parts in The Magnificent Ambersons and The Third Man. Orson- perhaps the only man to use Churchill as a stooge while trying to set up a film deal- was a lifelong friend of Cottens, and this autobiography was one of the last works he read before his untimely death in 1985.
Cotten takes us behind the scenes of his stage plays and films, recalling amusing and intimate stories of his adventures with Ingrid Bergman, Marilyn Monroe, Katharine Hepburn, David Niven, David O. Selznick, Alfred Hitchcock and many others. Sensitive to his own motivations, frank about his marriages and warmly revealing about himself and his friends, Cotten has written much more than the usual film star biography. His skills as an actor have made him a master of character and dramatic momentum, and he brings the same talents to his writing.
Vanity Will get You Somewhere is a generous, loving and humorous portrait of a man without a shred of vanity in his nature- and of his friends and colleagues in the larger-than-life world of show business.