Is starring in your own life story the ultimate in authenticity or just shameless exhibitionism? With Howard Stern’s Private Parts, due out on video this month, there’s no distinction. For grandstanders who preceded him, though, starring in their own autobiopics wasn’t always such a logical career move.
THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY Self-portrait by the Brooklyn Dodger as he relives his triumph over racism. Convincing? Unfortunately, he can’t handle dialogue as nimbly as a ground ball. The sight of a truly great American hero reduced to a bad actor is pretty distressing.
TO HELL AND BACK Self-portrait by decorated World War II hero Audie Murphy, who, by 1955, was also a cowboy movie star. Convincing? He delivers an effortless performance of genuine intensity, while the filmmakers make the battle scenes more convincing by downsizing some of Murphy’s bona fide outsize exploits.
THE GREATEST Self-portrait by heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali. Convincing? A showman in life, he’s a natural in the role, although the movie has the canned quality of official biography.
SOPHIA LOREN: HER OWN STORY Self-portrait by Loren as she rises from poverty to international stardom. Convincing? At 46, she was a touch ripe to be re-creating her radiant youth. And in one scene Loren outgrandstands even Stern by portraying her mother as well as herself.
PRIVATE PARTS Self-portrait by shock jock Howard Stern. Convincing? You bet. His entire career to date, in fact, has been built on playing, if not overplaying, himself. Cringe factor: That’s the point. Moron.