Mary Astor’s Purple Diary is a story of Hollywood, New York, love affairs, divorce, custody battles, organized religion, fake news, politics, sex and scandals.
Writer and illustrator, Edward Sorel, grew up in the Depression in a family of vocal Communists and Stalinites. He found solace in his frequent escapes to his other “family” in the magical world of films. Tucked away in the fantastical movie palaces of the day, like the Lowes Paradise in the Bronx – birds flying, clouds moving, stars sparkling – life had possibilities.
Sorel emerged from a terrible relationship with his father, understanding the power of reinvention, the need for taking personal responsibility and the necessity to make the tough choice to break unhealthy family ties. He was lucky, he had one good parent. “All you need is one good parent.” Sorel had a loving, encouraging mother. The famed Mary Astor had none. The consequences of domineering, demanding, and abusive parents turned out to drive Miss Astor’s choices for a lifetime.
Sorel, broke and on the verge of a nervous breakdown after leaving his first wife, follows his disillusioned, Communist Party therapist to a Quaker meeting. Although a staunch non-believer, Sorel was incredibly moved by the silence. He’d found another safe harbor, a place to spend quality time with his children. And it would lead him to the loves of his life, the best hot chocolate in the world and a marriage proposal.
“Cursed with the world’s foremost fixation” after finding newspaper clippings of Mary Astor’s story, he would become the keeper of Mary Astor’s flame. Fifty years later, he offers a satiric slant to an accomplished, public and tragic life whose story shines a light on his own profound and amusing tale.