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The Kid Stays in the Picture: movie legend Robert Evans on putting his roller-coaster life on stage

Robert Evans, pictured in 1974 next to a poster of Chinatown, which he produced with his ex-wide Ali MacGraw
Robert Evans, pictured in 1974 next to a poster of Chinatown, which he produced with his ex-wide Ali MacGraw

Robert Evans is a bona fide Hollywood legend. On the strength of little more than matinee-idol looks and roguish charisma, he was a minor ham actor who got lucky, and ended up running Paramount Pictures, with no producing experience, through an astonishingly successful run from 1966 to 1975.

A permatanned ladies’ man, he midwifed such classics as Rosemary’s Baby, Love Story and The Godfather, launching the careers of Roman Polanski and Francis Ford Coppola in the process.

Among his shakier productions? Seven failed marriages. He was Mr Ali MacGraw, until she eloped with Steve McQueen, on the aptly named thriller The Getaway. After that there was a notorious cocaine bust. A prolonged Eighties burnout. And a career rescue operation, masterminded by Jack Nicholson, to get people answering Evans’s calls again, and an office back on the Paramount lot.

All this is recounted in Evans’s irresistibly...

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