Books: Act III

FINAL DRESS by John Houseman Simon & Schuster; 559pages; $19.95

The director-producer-actor-author, who is 81, was raised to be a wanderer; his mother was Welsh-Irish, and his father was an Alsatian Jew who was an international speculator. John Houseman spoke four languages as a child, was educated as a privileged Englishman, won an Oxford scholarship in modern languages, but went instead to Argentina to live among gauchos, returned to London, and learned the international grain trade. He was on the point of becoming wealthy as a grain speculator in the U.S. when the Crash of '29 bankrupted his company. His...

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