Book review (non-fiction): Actress Selma Blair bares her soul in gripping memoir | Books

By MIKE HOUSEHOLDER Associated Press

Most people probably know Selma Blair for her memorable roles in blockbuster movies from the late ’90s and early 2000s, such as “Cruel Intentions,” “Legally Blonde,” and “Hellboy.”

Others may know of her work as a model, covering fashion magazines and enjoying a stint as a collaborator and muse of famed designer Karl Lagerfeld.

Or maybe they’ve heard about his mid-life multiple sclerosis diagnosis and the recent documentary, “Introducing, Selma Blair,” which details how the actor is adjusting to life with the disease.

What they don’t know – and couldn’t until now – is the devastating trauma that Michigan-born Selma Blair Beitner suffered in her 49 years.

Blair details it all in his captivating and unwavering memoir, “Mean Baby.”

Her addiction to alcohol, including getting drunk on Passover wine as an elementary school student. Being sexually assaulted by a trusted high school administrator and raped while on a college trip to Florida during spring break. In addition, several suicide attempts and stays in rehab.

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Raw and real, “Mean Baby” is Blair’s life in words – warts and all. And it’s definitely worth it, because, believe it or not, it’s also funny. And uplifting.

His mother, Molly Cooke, is a recurring presence in the book. The Detroit-area attorney and workers’ compensation magistrate served as a role model and confidant for Blair, despite handing out sometimes painfully harsh truths along the way. Blair’s adoration for her mother is clear, making Cooke’s death in 2020 all the more difficult for the author, who shared that she continued to leave daily messages on her mother’s answering machine.

“‘Good night mum’ I whisper every night,” Blair wrote. “May all our dreams come true. Even the ones we haven’t dreamed of yet.

Blair also recounts her Hollywood friendships (Reese Witherspoon and Carrie Fisher), romances (Jason Schwartzman) and run-ins, memorably how she met pop star Britney Spears while they were both in rehab at Promises to Malibu. There, according to Blair, she insisted that Spears stop wearing a platinum bob wig that the singer donned after shaving her head at a salon. Blair still keeps the wig in his closet. Additionally, she bit Seth MacFarlane (hand) and Sienna Miller (arm) upon encountering them.

Now, regarding the title – Blair was born into it.

“I was a mean, mean baby. I came into the world with my mouth pulled in a perpetual rumble,” she wrote.

“From the start, I was misunderstood.”

Blair may have been misunderstood in 1972, but after half a century of searching, she seems to have found her truth. And the love of her life: a son, Arthur, to whom she dedicates the book and partly credits a new perspective.

“The bad baby is still there, but its edges are softer, wiser, kinder.”

And capable of producing a dazzling and intense memoir.

Colin L. Johnson