MOTHER GOOSE DRANK SCOTCH: AN AMERICAN JOURNEY, is the biography of ROBERT ROSSEN, the son of Jewish immigrants, who escaped mean-street poverty to become one of 20th Century America’s foremost film makers, screenwriter of some of the most noteworthy thirties’ films of social criticism, later garnering world acclaim directing and/or scripting such iconic works as ALL THE KING’S MEN, THE HUSTLER, and BODY AND SOUL. Written as a memoir by his daughter, actress/author CAROL EVE ROSSEN, MOTHER GOOSE explores Mr. Rossen's youth, his films, his Depression-era activism in Hollywood’s Communist Party, the de facto voice for the disenfranchised and the center of anti-Fascist resistance, as well as his ultimate disillusionment with the Party and its doctrinaire defense of Stalin’s brutality - leftist peers excoriating his Oscar winning ALL THE KING’S MEN as a corruption of the Party line.
Named as one of the Hollywood 19 “unfriendly witnesses” by the House Un-American Activities Committee [HUAC] in 1947, Rossen becomes a victim of the blacklist at the height of his career, his studio contracts terminated and passport revoked. Caught between the Right - which questioned his patriotism, and the Left - which questioned his idealism, Rossen becomes a cooperating witness in 1953, naming names HUAC already knew, his passport and the right to work the quid pro quo. The Rossen family decamps to Europe, aliens in limbo, following film opportunities in Rome, Madrid, Paris and London, Rossen to return to New York and professional acclaim in the 60s. Only to die soon thereafter at age 57.
Artfully conceived in a multiplicity of prose treatments, CAROL EVE ROSSEN, she a child of Hollywood’s Red Scare holocaust and the eldest of Rossen’s three children, questions, pursues, and discovers the jumbled anatomy of the family’s tour of history, GOOSE both memoir as well as biography, a remembrance of love, of fear and chaos, of surviving the stigma attached to her [in]famous father - of surviving the tumultuous events that changed the face of America. With grace, humour, and above all loyalty to family, Ms. Rossen perseveres, and despite personal and professional retribution, becomes a most formidable actress, with star turns in film [THE STEPFORD WIVES], television [over 100 appearances in many of the leading programs of the ‘60s] and Broadway [THE GLASS MENAGERIE] some of which was recounted in her first work of non-fiction, COUNTERPUNCH [Dutton, 1988.] Meticulously researched, reaching back two generations to the Jewish Pale of Czarist Russia, Ms. Rossen interviewed many intimates and colleagues of her father, including Ring Lardner, Jr., Budd Schulberg, Richard Condon, Max Youngstein, Irene Diamond, Norman Podhoretz, Paul Newman, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott and Robert Redford, Carol’s junior high school classmate and lifelong friend, to compose an indelible portrait of a family that somehow stays together despite years of constraint and exclusion from community.
“Carol Eve Rossen’s family history is intriguing and intimately tied to mid-twentieth century American history, and she renders it beautifully....”
“Robert Rossen was a very interesting man living in fascinating times and there are great stories here...”
“I admire Ms. Rossen’s writing style and her project of telling the story of her father’s trajectory across American history and culture...”
“I was impressed by the serious excavation work Ms. Rossen has done to unearth this story about her father and her family. It’s a powerful story...”
Ms. Rossen’s manuscript is a fascinating story but in the end I didn’t feel like we’d be able to get a big enough readership for it here...
[Savitt, Virago, UK]