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Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography

Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography

Автором Rob Lowe

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Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography

Автором Rob Lowe

4/5 (85 оценки)
352 pages
6 hours
Apr 26, 2011


A wryly funny and surprisingly moving account of an extraordinary life lived almost entirely in the public eye

A teen idol at fifteen, an international icon and founder of the Brat Pack at twenty, and one of Hollywood's top stars to this day, Rob Lowe chronicles his experiences as a painfully misunderstood child actor in Ohio uprooted to the wild counterculture of mid-seventies Malibu, where he embarked on his unrelenting pursuit of a career in Hollywood.

The Outsiders placed Lowe at the birth of the modern youth movement in the entertainment industry. During his time on The West Wing, he witnessed the surreal nexus of show business and politics both on the set and in the actual White House. And in between are deft and humorous stories of the wild excesses that marked the eighties, leading to his quest for family and sobriety.

Never mean-spirited or salacious, Lowe delivers unexpected glimpses into his successes, disappointments, relationships, and one-of-a-kind encounters with people who shaped our world over the last twenty-five years. Rob Lowe's New York Times bestselling autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, shares tales that are as entertaining as they are unforgettable.

Apr 26, 2011

Об авторе

Rob Lowe studied English Literature at King's College London and St John's College, Oxford. After over a decade in publishing he now works for a leading environmental education charity in the south west of England. He has published several short stories as eBooks and is currently working on his first novel.

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  • And we feel all of these highs and lows in our absolute core; it feels as if it’s never happened to anyone else because it’s never happened to us before. Only later can we look back in the comfort that perspective brings.

  • I bet you didn’t know, but I collect frogs. Have since I was a boy like you. ’Cause my daddy used to tell me: ‘Son, a frog never knows how far it can jump until it’s kicked,’” says the president.

  • Presidents get to redesign the Oval Office to their own tastes and they have the National Gallery, Smithsonian, and National Archives warehouses of priceless pieces to choose from.

  • The significance of your participation pales in comparison to the significance the project has on their imaginations. And so, you are left outside of the phenomenon.

  • Building a life that was sober, drained of harmful, wasteful excess and manufacturing in its place a family of my own.

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Stories I Only Tell My Friends - Rob Lowe




I had always had an affinity for him, an admiration for his easy grace, his natural charisma, despite the fact that for the better part of a decade my then girlfriend kept a picture of him running shirtless through Central Park on her refrigerator door. Maybe my lack of jealousy toward this particular pin-up was tamped down by empathy for his loss of his father and an appreciation for how complicated it is to be the subject of curiosity and objectification from a very young age. That said, when my girlfriend and others would constantly swoon over him, when I would see him continually splashed across the newspapers, resplendent like an American prince, I wasn’t above the occasional male thought of: Screw that guy.

As a person navigating the waters of public scrutiny, you are often unable to hold on to personal heroes or villains. Inevitably you will meet your hero, and he may turn out to be less than impressive, while your villain turns out to be the coolest cat you’ve ever met. You never can tell, so you eventually learn to live without a rooting interest in the parade of stars, musicians, sports champions, and politicians. And you lose the ability to participate in the real American pastime: beating up on people you don’t like and glorifying people you do.

I had not yet learned that truism when he and I first met. I was at a point where I was deeply unhappy with my personal life, increasingly frustrated about where my career seemed to be going—although from the outside it would probably appear to anyone observing that I was among the most blessed twenty-four-year-olds on the planet. In an effort to find substance, meaning, and excitement, I had become deeply involved in the world of politics.

It was at one of these political events, the kind where movie stars mix with political stars, each trading in the other’s reflective glory, both looking to have the other fill something missing inside them, that we were introduced. Rob Lowe, I’d like you to meet John Kennedy Jr., someone said. Hey, man, good to meet you, I said. He smiled. We shook hands and I was relieved that my by then ex-girlfriend wasn’t there to notice that he was slightly taller than I was, or to comment on who had better-looking hair. We made some small talk, and I remember thinking, How does he do it? How does he carry the scrutiny? How does he attempt a normal life? Is it even possible? Is it even worth trying?

He was charming and gracious and didn’t seem to be unnerved by the multitudes of eyeballs stealing glances as we spoke. Eventually, as we were both single guys in our twenties, the talk turned to girls. Maybe we should get outta here, go find where the action is, he said. I looked at him. Dude. You’re fucking JFK Jr.! All right?! You don’t need to go anywhere! He looked at me and laughed, and as he did I saw a glimpse of his father and was reminded of his family’s legacy of sacrifice and tragedy, and was glad that he was carrying the mantle so well and with so much promise for the future.

Eventually we went our separate ways, never teaming up to hunt down any fun that night (although I later wrestled open a wet bar at 2:00 a.m. with a vice presidential short-list candidate). Over the years I watched him navigate the currents of fame, dating, and career ups and downs, curious to see how his life would play out. Sometimes he and I would both appear on those shameful lists of Hunks. (Could there be a more degrading or, frankly, gross word than hunk? Hunk of what? Hunk of wood? Hunk of cheese? Yikes!) There may have even been a girl or two whom we both coveted, but that was the extent of my contact with him.

In the late ’90s my wife, Sheryl, and I were on a romantic ski vacation in Sun Valley, Idaho. We still felt like newlyweds, in spite of having two beautiful baby boys from whom we’d escaped for a rare evening out. Sun Valley is one of my favorite spots. It’s old school (as the site of North America’s first chair lift) and glamorous (the home of Hemingway and early Hollywood royalty), and boasts one of the greatest ski mountains in the country. I had been going there since the mid-’80s and always liked the mix of people you might encounter at any given time. One evening at a big holiday party, I felt a tap on the shoulder. It was John Jr. How’ve you been, man? he asked with a smile. I introduced him to Sheryl. He congratulated us on our marriage. After a while Sheryl went off on her own, leaving the two of us alone in the corner watching the party move on around us. Even in this more rarefied crowd, you could feel the occasional glare of curious observation. A ski instructor passed by, a movie star; a local ski bunny brushed by John and flipped her hair. How did you do it? he asked, so low against the buzz of the party that I couldn’t quite hear.

I’m sorry?

How did you do it? he repeated. I mean how did you settle down? You of all people.

I looked at him and he was smiling, almost laughing, as if covering something else, some other emotion, something I couldn’t quite discern. At first I thought he might be gently poking fun at me; up until my marriage, my life had been publicly marked by a fair number of romances, some covered with great interest in the papers. But I saw that his question was real, and that he seemed to be grappling with a sort of puzzle he could not solve. I realized he was looking across the room to a willowy blonde. She had fantastic blue eyes, and the kind of beauty and magnetism that was usually reserved for film stars. She was standing next to my wife, Sheryl, also a blue-eyed blonde with a beauty and presence that made her seem as if a spotlight and wind machine were constantly trained on her.

I put two and two together. Looks like you have a great girl. That’s half the battle right there. She’s obviously amazing and if she’s your best friend, marry her. You can do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, that you’re not ready, or not capable. Come on in, man, the water’s warm. I’m here to tell you it is; if she’s your friend in addition to all of the other stuff, pull the trigger, don’t let her get away. You never know what life will bring.

I think he was a little taken aback at the passion of my response. I’m not at all sure what he had expected me to say. But he asked, so what the hell. John nodded and we went on to other topics. The next day, we met to ski on the mountain he snowboarded, ripping down the face, fast and free. But the weather was turning and a white-out was upon us. In the snow and the speed and the wind, we were separated. I looked up over a ridge and he was gone, lost in the clouds.

John did marry his blonde, his Carolyn. I was glad for him and thought about sending him a note, but somehow I didn’t (of all my character flaws—and there are a number of them—procrastination is one of the most distinctive). Instead I wished him luck, children, and longevity of love with one of my nonalcoholic beers as I watched the coverage on Entertainment Tonight. As a political junkie and unashamed admirer of our country, I was a huge fan of his brainchild, George magazine. When someone finally stopped asking celebrities appearing on its cover to pose in those George Washington wigs I thought: Okay, they’re rollin’ now!

The end of the century approached. The ’90s were a time of building for me. Building a life that was sober, drained of harmful, wasteful excess and manufacturing in its place a family of my own. This was my priority through the decade and that work continues to pay off today with the love of my sons, Matthew and Johnowen, and the constant gift of the love of my wife, Sheryl. Whereas the ’80s had been about building a career, the ’90s ended with my having built a life.

At the end of the decade, my career was very much in flux, just as it had been at the end of the previous one. I had had some successes in the ’90s, always made money, but the truth was I was like a man pushing a boulder up a hill. A huge, heavy, difficult boulder made up of some career mistakes, projects that didn’t meet expectations, and twenty years of being a known quantity. And not only not being the new sensation, but worse, being someone people in Hollywood took for granted, someone with no surprises left in him. For example, the ability to appear on the cover of magazines is critical for any major actor. It’s just a fact of the business end of show business. And I hadn’t been on the cover of a magazine in almost ten years. To have the kind of career one aspires to, comprising good, major work over the course of a lifetime, it was critical that I find two things: the breakout, watershed project to remind people what I could accomplish as an actor, and that first magazine cover and profile to publicize it. It was June of 1999 and John Kennedy Jr. was about to help me get both.

My longtime publicist Alan Nierob was on the line. "Apparently JFK Jr. stood up in today’s staff meeting and said he had just seen a pilot for a new TV series that was the embodiment of everything he founded George magazine to be. He was emotional about it, very moved by the show and inspired to help people hear about it. He thinks The West Wing can be one of those once-in-a-lifetime shows that can change people’s lives. Your character of Sam Seaborn was his favorite and he wants to put you on George’s September cover."

Although the advance copy of The West Wing had been receiving freakishly unanimous raves, I was ecstatic and humbled by this particular endorsement. It’s impossible to imagine living JFK Jr.’s life and then watching a show whose central theme was the heart and soul of the American presidency. His whole world has been shaped by the office, the service to it, and the tragic sacrifice in its name. The West Wing was going to be about the best and the brightest. His father’s administration all but coined the phrase.

Um, Alan, does John realize that there is no guarantee that the show will last through the fall? I knew that George was in serious financial trouble and could ill-afford to feature a show with the high likelihood of attaining the ultimate creative Pyrrhic victory: worshipped by critics, ignored by the public. If the show was quickly canceled (and quite a few thought it would be) it would be a financial disaster for John and, possibly, could be the end of the magazine. Rob, Alan said, John is putting you on the cover. He couldn’t care less.

The politics of the workplace can be complicated, Machiavellian, self-serving, and just downright stupid no matter where you work. My grandpa ran a restaurant in Ohio for fifty years. I’m sure every now and then he would get nervous when his most popular carhop got uppity and started wanting better hours. My father practices law to this day and deals with those who smile to his face, then wish he would step on a limpet mine in the middle of Ludlow Street. That’s the way it is in the world. It’s just worse in Hollywood.

Someone, somewhere, got it into their heads that it would be a bad thing for the launch of our new show if I was on the cover of George. It was made very clear to me that I had no right to be on this cover and that John should rescind the offer. When pushed for a reason as to why it would be a bad thing for a show no one had ever heard of to get this kind of recognition, the response was: Everyone should be on the cover. Not you. I understood that there was no single star of the show, but still thought it was a great opportunity for all concerned. The higher-ups remained adamant and they asked John to take me off the cover. He refused.

As I puzzled over (and was hurt by) this disconnect between me and my new bosses on The West Wing, John was in New York planning the cover shoot. He chose Platon, one of the great photographers, and lined up the journalist for the profile. After it was clear that John made his own choices on his covers, and could not be pushed around, the folks at The West Wing backed down and allowed an on-set visit and an additional article about the show, cast, and writers to be written. John wanted to throw a party for me in New York to coincide with the magazine’s release and the premiere of the show. I made plans to attend and to thank him for supporting me at a time when no one else had. I picked up the phone and called his offices, and got an assistant. He just came out of the last meeting on your cover issue and is running late for the airport. Can he call you Monday?

No problem, I said, we’ll talk then.

I hung up and started preparing for Monday’s table reading of the first episode of The West Wing. John hopped into his car. He was rushing to meet Carolyn and her sister Lauren, eager to get to the airport to fly them to his cousin Rory’s wedding. It was a hazy summer evening, the kind we remember from childhood. He was probably excited. He was going back to his family. He was going home.

It’s been my experience that when a phone call wakes you, it’s never good news. I had taken a small cottage in Burbank, a few blocks from the studio for late nights and I was asleep when I got the call. It was Sheryl and I could tell she was upset. She wanted me to turn on the news.

At first it seemed like it couldn’t possibly be happening. Clearly these reporters had it wrong. John, his beloved wife, and her sister would surely be found in an embarrassing mix-up or miscommunication. They could not be gone. No one is that cruel. No God can ask that of a family. No one would so much as imagine the possibility of the horrific and arbitrary sudden nature of fate. Search teams scrambled and, like most Americans, I said a prayer of hope.

Monday came. The search for John, Carolyn, and Lauren continued. At the studio the cast and producers gathered for the very first table reading of The West Wing. I stood and told the group how much John admired the show and asked that we pray for him and work with his inspiration. It was very quiet. People were numb.

Later there was talk of canceling the cover shoot, now just days away. I was devastated and in no mood for it. But John’s editors insisted, pointing out that John’s last editorial decision was to make this happen. It was what he wanted. By Tuesday the worst had been confirmed. The plane had been found. There were no survivors. John, Carolyn, and Lauren were gone. I heard the news on my way to the photo session.

Being on the Oval Office set is very moving. It is an exact replica of the Clinton version, down to the artwork on the walls and the fabrics on the couches. (It was designed by the amazing movie production designer Jon Hutman, who does all of Robert Redford’s movies and whom I’ve known since he was Jodie Foster’s roommate at Yale.) It is so realistic that when I later found myself in the actual Oval Office, I felt as if it was just another day at the office. I was, however, fascinated with the one thing the real Oval Office has that ours did not, and that was a ceiling. I stood looking up at it, staring like an idiot while everyone else oohed and aahed at all the amazing historical pieces that fill the room. However, it’s not authenticity that takes your breath away when you step onto that soundstage at Warner Bros. Studios. It is the solemnity of history, of destiny, and of fate; you are certain that you are actually in the room where power, patriotism, faith, the ability to change the world, and the specter of both success and tragedy flow like tangible, unbridled currents. You feel the presence of the men who navigated them as they created our collective American history, and you fully realize that they were not disembodied images on the nightly news or unknowable titans or partisan figureheads to be applauded or ridiculed. It feels as if you are standing where they stood, you can open their desk drawers, sit in their seat, and dial their phone. They are somehow more real to you now, they are not the sum of their successes or failures, they are human beings.

Presidents get to redesign the Oval Office to their own tastes and they have the National Gallery, Smithsonian, and National Archives warehouses of priceless pieces to choose from. John Jr.’s mother knew her way around a swatch or two, so she made sure her husband’s Oval Office was simple and chic (but with enough plausible deniability if called out for it) and with the proper nod to history. For the president’s desk she chose the Resolute desk, fashioned from the timbers of the HMS Resolute, found abandoned by an American vessel and returned to England, where Queen Victoria later had the timbers made into a desk and sent to President Rutherford Hayes as a goodwill gesture. FDR also loved the desk, but insisted that a modesty panel be installed to swing closed at the front in order to prevent people from seeing his leg braces as he sat. Years later, as JFK attended to the nation’s business, tiny John Jr. would be famously photographed impishly peeking out from being the desk’s panel.

I am leaning against a replica of that desk now, the flash of the photographer’s strobe jolting me, illuminating the darkened soundstage, cutting the tension and sadness of the George cover shoot. A number of staff have flown in from New York. John was more than a boss to them, obviously, and they are devastated. They share stories of John’s life. Some cry, but all soldier on through this melancholy and bizarre photo shoot on the Oval Office set.

Platon wants me to embody strength, dignity, and power. He is asking me to focus in on his lens, to bring the sparkle that sells magazines. But my thoughts are elsewhere. I’m thinking of how unexpected yet oddly preordained life can be. Events are upon you in an instant, unforeseen and without warning, and oftentimes marked by disappointment and tragedy but equally often leading to a better understanding of the bittersweet truth of life. A father is taken from his son, a promise is unfulfilled, and then the son is reunited with him, also in an instant and under the cover of sadness. A theme continues in that unique, awful beauty that marks our human experience.

The flash explodes in my face again. I put on a smile (none of these shots will ever be used) and remind myself that John’s journey is over and, with some thanks to him, a new journey for me is ahead. I never knew him well. Many Americans also felt a connection to him without knowing him at all. In some ways, he was America’s son. But I will always be moved by John Kennedy Jr.’s steadiness in the harsh, unrelenting spotlight, his quest for personal identity and substance, for going his own way and building a life of his choosing. I will always remember his support and kindness to me and be grateful to him for being among the first to recognize that with my next project, The West Wing, I just might be a part of something great.



My mother awakens me. She is worked up, highly strung. She is pulling me out of bed from a deep sleep. I’m scared. It feels like it’s the middle of the night, although in a weird example of the capabilities of our modern age, a quick Google search today tells me it was probably just about 10:15 p.m.

Robbie! Wake up! It’s important! she urges. She has tears in her eyes. Quickly I’m placed into my footie pajamas and she hustles me downstairs. My baby brother is asleep; if my dad is home, he is not awake. It’s just the two of us. Coming down the stairs, I see the glow of the television, her favorite blanket on the couch. She must have been watching TV right before she rushed upstairs to wake me. I’m groggy and confused as she sits me next to her in front of the eerie gray-blue light of our Zenith black-and-white television. She takes my hand and I notice it is shaking.

I try to make out images on the television screen, but they are fuzzy and garbled. Mom is hugging me now, as I finally begin to make out some clarity in the picture. We copy you down, Eagle, a man is saying. A slight gasp from my mother, as on the television a fellow Ohioan is saying, Engine arm is off. Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed. Within moments, Neil Armstrong of Wapakoneta, Ohio, twenty miles from my grandparents’ house, sets foot on the moon. It seems at once fake, like being woken up from a dream (which I was), and yet of dramatic importance even to a four-and-a-half-year-old. I look at my mom. She has tears running down her face. Nothing will ever be the same, she whispers.

*   *   *

My mother was right. The world did change. Soon thereafter I lost my father. He wasn’t taken from us in a heroic/tragic fashion; in fact, he wasn’t even dead. But when there is suddenly that emptiness in your home and in your heart, the loss feels very similar to death.

Like most boys, I idolized my father, even as a four-year-old. He was movie-star handsome, a cross between Paul Newman and a Godfather-era Jimmy Caan. Like the latter, he had a way with the ladies; like the former he was a product of the Midwest of the 1950s, set in his ways, cloistered, and with a premium on politeness and not rocking the boat to get your true needs met. He was athletic and strong, a champion tennis player in an era when few had yet discovered the sport. My earliest memory may be of him sawing his wooden Jack Kramer racquet in half at the handle so we could hit together, even though I was substantially shorter than the tennis net.

He and my mother were pinned in college at DePauw, true school sweethearts. My mother was an English major and boasted William Faulkner as one of her professors. She was bookish and beautiful, from a small town in Ohio. Her father was the archetypical self-made man. The youngest of nine children, he left home at eleven years old to escape his family’s grinding poverty. Starting as a butcher’s apprentice, my grandfather eventually worked his way up to owning the entire grocery store, parlaying that into two successful restaurants. By the time my mother was a little girl, her dad was the only man who could afford a Cadillac in all of Shelby County, Ohio. And so she was raised in nouveaux privilege, a sheltered world where only good things happened and where life clearly rewarded those with the proper intentions. With her arresting beauty, she not only looked like a princess, she was treated like one.

My father, on the other hand, was from Indiana, a place of hard-nosed pragmatism. He loved to fight, to brawl—a trait that served him well as a four-foot-eleven high school freshman, and less so as a five-foot-nine newlywed. But together, they made a handsome couple and were married on the eve of my father’s departure for law school at the University of Virginia.

What makes the equation of man and woman so eternally mysterious, glorious, and explosive? It almost seems as if each decade has its own unique battle of the sexes. The field of conflict is ever changing, as are the players, but the carnage and confusion are always fueled by the enduring quest for sex, love, and emotional fulfillment. (This list is in varying order according to experience and gender.) In the ’80s we navigated the legacy of the then decades-old free love movement, as well as a status-seeking ethos powered by booze and coke and a vague sense that this sexual smorgasbord wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) last forever. And with the arrival of AIDS, it did not.

My mom and dad faced different challenges. They wanted to escape the uniformity and banal conventions of the ’50s, but didn’t have the road map later created during the upheavals of the late ’60s. On a practical level, sex was still the domain of married couples only (in theory) and the pill didn’t exist. Indeed, on their wedding night both my parents were virgins. On the first night of their honeymoon, as my mother fought an anxiety attack waiting in the hotel room, my dad escaped to the hotel pool, avoiding the inevitable by swimming lap after lap after lap. (And I wonder why whenever I’m stressed, I head to the water!) At some point, however, they must have figured it out, and on March 17, 1964, I was born at the university hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia.

For the then standard three days of my mother’s hospital stay, my father was forbidden to hold or touch me. As my mother and I bonded, my father and I remained separated by the glass of the observation window, looking at each other across the distance, the first notes in a theme that would be played out for the rest of our lives.

When I was six months old, my dad graduated from law school, and we left Charlottesville for Dayton, Ohio. (Later in life as my love of history, of tradition, politics, and government became a constant, I began to wonder if I wasn’t imbued with these passions by virtue of being born in the town Mr. Jefferson built.) My parents chose Dayton because it was then a bustling, growing city, home of a number of major businesses, including National Cash Register, Dayton Tire, AC-Delco, and Mead Paper. We moved into a nice three-bedroom house, whose floor plan I can still remember, in a leafy suburb. My dad joined a law practice; my mother gave up her job as a high school English teacher and stayed at home to raise me. They were the quintessential young, upwardly mobile midwestern couple of the mid-’60s. They discovered fondue, the cast album of Camelot, and gin and tonics. (Later it would be Jesus Christ Superstar and pot.) They had a close circle of like-minded friends.

According to family lore, at one of these fondue parties, thrown by my parents to introduce a young dentist to their circle of friends, my mother’s naïveté was unveiled for all to see, in a fashion that seems almost impossible today. Attempting to drum up new business for the dentist, she told a hushed room that she loved going to his office because he was so gentle when he put his prick in my mouth. She went on with enthusiasm to recount how she was never scared when he puts his prick in, that sometimes it feels good. My father, by then likely more well versed in such matters, burst out laughing in the horrified silence, simultaneously enraging and confusing my mom.

What did I say?

Um … well … Barbara…

What? I’m just talking about his prick and…

Barbara, he began to explain, but gave up as she looked at him with a mixture of blithe indulgence and dawning reproach of what was clearly a deviant mind. Meanwhile, my dad (and every single other fondue eater present), swallowed his laughter and attempted to steer the evening back on

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  • (3/5)
    This is probably one of my favorite autobiographies. I love any type of book but I have always been wary of autobiographies, not so much biographies. However, Stories I Only Tell My Friends was such an amazing balance of humor and emotion, completely pulled me in from the first page. I felt like I was with Rob Lowe during his time in Dayton, Ohio all the way to Los Angeles, the city he wanted to conquer. Mr. Lowe realizing that the world of acting had more sacrifices than you could imagine. I would recommend this book to anyone who is in need of a laugh or cry.
  • (4/5)
    I liked the flow of this book. Although this was not an auto-biography, Rob talks about himself a lot. He is one of the few people who I held in higher regard after reading his book. The stories were charming, witty, and entertaining. Rob Lowe is a fascinating person with a great perspective on life.
  • (4/5)
    Listened to from February 14 to 23, 2012The Beginning I Thought This: I listened to the first few chapters this morning and I already love it. I teared up listening about his meetings with JFK, JR and laughed about "I want to French you". Good stuff, Rob Lowe. Good stuff. Can't wait for my drive home this afternoon!By The End I Thought This: Rob Lowe tells good stories (even though he keeps them all at a PG rating). While there were a few of his more sordid tales that he kind of glossed over, I was still quite entertained by his "debauched" lifestyle in the the 1980s. I mean, he apparently has sex tapes that were quite scandalous, but he goes in such little detail that I had to turn to Wikipedia to figure out what he was talking about. Since I am really only familiar with Lowe because of Brothers & Sisters (I know, it's crazy that I've never seen St. Elmo's Fire), I now feel the need to watch some 80s movies and several episodes of The West Wing (again, I KNOW! How have I NEVER seen a single episode of TWW?).
  • (2/5)
    Disappointing. I had heard (don't remember where) that Rob Lowe's autobiography was a gripping Hollywood Tell-All. I found it to be a moderately boring Hollywood Tell-Some. I would describe the first two chapters as rambling, but he does hit his stride and the book ends up being more or less entertaining. Yes, he comes across as hard-working, good guy. Yes, he has been fortunate enough to meet and work with some of the best. But if you are looking for deeper insight into Rob Lowe The Person, this is not the book that will give it to you.
  • (4/5)
    For years, celebrity memoirs have been my guilty-pleasure reading--in fact, they were the source of so much reading guilt that I rarely indulged in them at all. But I've been exploring audiobooks during the past year, and I've discovered that they're an excellent medium for this particular genre. Thanks to audios, I've shed some of the guilt--partly because I listen alone in my car, and partly because there are no glossy covers to expose me--and shared some surprisingly fun commutes with familar voices. But I'm still pretty picky about whose stories I want to hear, and this is a genre where I give extra weight to reviews and recommendations. I'm not sure I would have chosen Rob Lowe's Stories I Only Tell My Friends if I hadn't read a lot of good things about it first, and that definitely would have been my loss.Rob Lowe first decided he wanted to be an actor as a kid in Dayton, Ohio, and when he moved to Malibu, California with his mother and brothers after her second marriage broke up, he discovered a very different environment from the community theaters where he’d started out. Malibu was already famous for its surf scene and beach culture, but the town was a more economically diverse place in the 1970s than it is now, and while some of his public-school classmates had rich and famous parents, many residents, including his own family, had no connection to or real understanding of “the business.” He had to learn a lot on his own and on the job, but he was driven to do it (sometimes literally, at least before he turned 16), starting in commercials, landing a short-lived sitcom at age 14, and scoring some steady work in ABC’s Afterschool Specials series of TV movies. His first big film role came as part of the large cast of up-and-comers in Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of the frequently-banned YA novel The Outsiders in 1982, and by the mid-80s, he’d reached Next Big Thing status as part of another iconic ensemble cast in St. Elmo’s Fire. Anyone who’s that successful, that young, and that lacking in wise guidance is likely to make some unwise life choices, and Lowe’s pretty honest about the ones he made throughout his twenties--although they did give him some terrific stories to tell. The fact that he sobered up, grew up, and settled down is why he’s around to tell them now.As he moved beyond his teen-idol, pretty-boy years (although he has by no means lost his looks), Lowe worked regularly, but his public profile rose and fell as he spent most of the 1990s moving between movies and theater, and developing an unexpected flair for comedy. And just as his young family was making him less interested in traveling for work, he got a chance at a role that required nothing more than daily freeway commutes...and the occasion location shoot in Washington DC. For me, Lowe’s portrayal of speechwriter Sam Seaborn is one of the reasons that the first three seasons of The West Wing are some of the best hours of drama ever on television. These days, he combines off-camera projects with television work, always looking for good stories.I can’t really imagine experiencing Stories I Only Tell My Friends in any format but audio, and it couldn’t be narrated by anyone other than the author. These are Rob Lowe’s stories, and they’re revealing, personal, intimate (although rarely gossipy), surprisingly relatable, and almost never dull. He presents himself with a wry, self-deprecating sense of humor and genuine emotion, and I found him and his stories thoroughly charming. In all honesty, I’ve liked him for years, but I really enjoyed listening to him tell me the stories he’d previously saved for his friends during my own commutes over the course of a week.
  • (3/5)
    A predominantly chronological collection of stories from Rob Lowe’s life which I listened to on Audible, narrated by the man himself. The focus is very much his drive towards acting (from a much younger age than I had realised) but also touches on his relationships with his parents and his alcoholism. Thoughts So, let's get the negatives out of the way first. The style and set up of this memoir was a little repetitive (start chapter with slightly abstract image, mention people by first name only to reveal which now incredibly famous person they are towards the end). In the content itself there is a decided element of glossing over some of the more troubled parts of his history – the circumstances around his (mostly forgotten) sex tape are significantly light on content as is the description of the impact of his descent into alcoholism. The detail of his West Wing days also feel somewhat redacted given the well-known issues surrounding his ultimate exit. That said I did really enjoy – especially the first half. I found Lowe to be much more articulate than I anticipated and he successfully created an almost nostalgic character flavour to the book. His school days and early career felt by far the strongest part of his narrative and were an interesting mix of both reflective and slightly gossipy insider view of Hollywood in the early 80s – I particularly enjoyed his references and descriptions of Tom Cruise and Patrick Swayze. The fact that on audio he does a pretty decent set of impressions of most of the famous people he references is an added bonus of listening to this on audio. I enjoyed some of his explanations of how TV and Hollywood worked – touring Warner Brothers studios a couple of days after finishing this book I annoyed my husband immensely with my new insights. In the latter part of the book he flips this insight onto experiences of going through rehab, rebuilding his life with his now wife and his ongoing political persuasion. In these parts he is open, honest and at times annoyingly earnest and whilst I am sure the change in focus has for him been a healthy and helpful thing it was not as compelling to hear about as the first half of the book was. An enjoyable read in a genre I don’t usually spend time with
  • (4/5)
    Rob Lowe's autobiography was pretty amazing. The man has lived a charmed life from dating Cary Grant's daughter, to seeing the Star Wars characters fighting with broomsticks on set before anyone knew what Star Wars was, to dating Princess Stephanie and clubbing all over Paris, to being on the plane when the 9/11 terrorists did a dry run the week before. He's basically lived a life charmed by happenstance. I found it a fascinating read, but I will say it's basically a book of name-dropping, literally stories of his odd experiences, so if you don't like Hollywood or reading People magazine, I'm not sure this is the book for you. If you do however enjoy a celebrity, I highly recommend it!
  • (5/5)
    This is the first memoir I listened to as an audiobook, and let me tell you, I don't think I could have picked a better one. I've always enjoyed watching Rob Lowe play the bad guy in movies and it was interesting to hear why he selected these kinds of roles, among many others. I probably should also admit that I may have even had a Rob Lowe pull-out poster from Tiger Beat magazine on my bedroom wall years ago!Listening to a memoir read by the author was an amazing experience. He talks about both the good and bad moments of his life, accepting responsibility for all of it. He even shares a bit, without going into great detail, of the videotape scandal that temporarily stalled his career in the late 80's. He shares with us his passion for acting and the ongoing struggle to get a part since he was a young boy. He got to a point in his career where he didn't necessarily want the "biggest" role, but the role that would challenge him, like the mute he played in the television series "The Stand".This was such a fun book to listen to and Lowe made me smile, if not laugh almost every day I listened to it. The second half of the book was more serious as he talks about how his life changed with his quest for sobriety, so if I wasn't laughing during this part of the book, I was impressed with the changes he made in his life. One part of this book that I really enjoyed was when Lowe talked about growing up in Malibu. Wanting to be an actor, he wasn't exactly a part of the "in" crowd. He had the good luck to cross paths with a couple of brothers whose father was a major film actor. Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez turned out to be good friends to Lowe, and Estevez wanted to be an actor just as badly as Lowe so these two especially bonded. Many celebrity names were mentioned throughout the book and they always represented a fond memory.Lowe is one of my favorite actors, even when he is portraying the bad, evil man. Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to watch The West Wing yet, but now I think I should start that series. His role on Brothers and Sisters is definitely one of my favorites, and I think he made my heart melt on a couple of those episodes. This is yet another audiobook that sent chills up and down my spine, as Lowe shares with us his personal experience with 9/11. I would have never guessed what happened to him.I think you can tell how much I enjoyed this audiobook, but maybe if you are not a fan of Rob Lowe you wouldn't enjoy it quite as much. I definitely would suggest this memoir for someone striving for an acting career. With themes of youth, stardom, addictions, love, and life changes this book has something to offer for almost everyone. So whether you are a fan of Lowe or not, I highly recommend this memoir, especially the audioversion.
  • (4/5)
    I found this book quite interesting. The story moved along nicely and there was often an anecdote of famous people he knew and grew up with. The tone of the book was upbeat, the author never critical or negative.
  • (5/5)
    Rob Lowe—more than just a pretty faceDespite a crush that dates back to my teen years, I’m the last person who would have bought Rob Lowe’s memoir, Stories I Only Tell my Friends. It’s just not the sort of thing I read. However, thanks to Amazon’s awesome “special offers” on my Kindle, I was able to get the audiobook for free through Audible.com. And I can’t resist that. I just can’t.I’m not much of a memoir reader, but I have to admit that I enjoy it when celebrities read their own audiobooks. It just makes it a more personal experience. And once I started listening to SIOTMF, I was quickly hooked. I’m not sure what I expected, but this book was wonderfully entertaining. Mr. Lowe’s stories are awesome!After an opening story about John F. Kennedy, Jr. that frames the collection, the rest of the stories proceed in a fairly linear fashion, beginning when Rob is around 11 years old. The stories focus largely on the very earliest days of his career through his time on The West Wing. Particular time is given to his experiences getting cast in and filming The Outsiders with Francis Ford Coppola. The cast of that film really was amazing, because it introduced an entire generation of young actors, including Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, and many others. Other eighties films that were formative in my youth were covered as well.I have to admit my favorite stories were the ones that dealt with Hollywood royalty, people you never would have expected Rob Lowe to have had contact with—particularly the experiences that he had. No two ways about it, the man has some flat out FANTASTIC stories!Lowe strikes a candid yet respectful tone as he discusses family, colleagues, royalty. In fact, the only person to get any sort of harsh treatment is Lowe himself, as he admits career mistakes, foibles, and personal failings. He acknowledges his addiction issues and discusses his experiences before and after getting help, but this is not an addiction memoir. Mostly, it’s just good entertainment. For me, it was a guilty pleasure. There are many more recent years that weren’t covered in this book. Should Mr. Lowe continue his stories someday, they won’t have to lure me in with a free audiobook. I’ll be waiting for the next volume. I like this guy!
  • (5/5)
    Rob Lowe's life story is a relatively humble narrative that details his life/career path and the luck and circumstances that made him who he is today. His story starts in elementary school in Ohio where he first becomes enchanted with the stage and the actor's ability to change the emotions of the audience. While he describes the changing dynamics of his family as his mother and father divorce and remarry, Rob tends to avoid too much disclosure about his family apart from the necessary parts that ultimately lead to decisions on his part. Others have criticized his reluctance to disclose the details of his sordid love affairs, infidelity toward Melissa Gilbert, the teen sex incident, etc. This is true, as Rob skims over most of these major events with just a few words, avoiding any candid thoughts or blame. The majority of his story details his career and acting/directing projects from The Outsiders to the West Wing. These two projects, in particular, are given the most time in the book, which was a great thrill to me as I am a diehard West Wing fan (or "wingnut" as Rob pens). Rob's autobiography reads more as a collection of great stories told in sequential order as he comes to meet other famous celebrities and in some cases, further describes the impact they have on his life course. Some of his stories are chance encounters and others are longer relationships that have a great impact on Rob as develops into a man and actor. For example, after his mother moves them (seemingly randomly) to Malibu, California, he just happens to live next door to Martin Sheen and his young boys, Charlie and Emilio. On the same block are Chris and Sean Penn and the boys all make amateur movies together running around the neighborhood. Growing up with these kids and influences combined with his dream of being a famous actor, adds luck and potential to his dreams. Indeed, Rob's career first begins at 15 when he starts landing commercials. Despite the lack of detail regarding his more devastating life events and affairs that have been exploited in the tabloids, Rob does not shy away from discussing his addiction to alcohol, his stay in rehab and his decision to stay sober (20 years and counting). He also describes his courtship with his wife and the birth of his children in greater detail. In all, Rob's book is an interesting read and I enjoyed every page. However, It should probably be noted that I have also been a big fan of Rob's over the years and have seen most of his movies. Somewhere I have his posters up in my attic.... Despite this, I think most people would enjoy Rob's autobiography which is a star-studded series of encounters which are told with humor, humility and passion. Those looking for dirt will have to look elsewhere as this is not a "tell-all" expose' but rather one man's telling of some really great behind the scenes stories of his life. I loved it and was sad to see it end!
  • (4/5)
    I'm going to miss my 10-day journey with Rob Lowe's words and voice. Somehow, it's not fair that one person is so handsome, likable & - dare I say it - geeky in the most adorable way. Even if you're not one for celebrity memoirs, give this one a go. And hey, Rob is reading the audio his own self.
  • (5/5)
     I listened to the audio book and highly recommend that anyone interested in this book go with the audio edition as Rob is the narrator. Rob narrates his book with much humor and heartfelt insight as well as some great spot-on impressions of those featured in his stories. And some interesting stories he has! I was pleasantly surprised and you will be too. 
  • (4/5)
    If someone made up this life as a story, no one would like it -- it would be too contrived. How can so many amazing things happen to a guy so likeable?
    Living down the road from the Sheens; meeting Liza Minelli, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Lucille Ball, and others; dating Princess Stephanie of Monacco (and discovering she had a crush on him, too!); witnessing some amazing Hollywood projects; travelling on the 9/11 test flight; working with the Who's Who of Hollywood; loving acting and being able to break into the business to full stardom; recovering from alcoholism; and a whole lot more: its unbelievable.

    Lowe tells his stories with humility, realism, and wit. He does not hide from his darker events, but he does not sensationalize them, either (in fact, he sometimes assumes you already heard about them and gives very limited information). Woven throughout his stories are some very astute observations about show business and life.

    It's an enjoyable read or listen (he does well with many of the voices of his colleagues), and helpful for people who want to be actors.

    My favourite jokes: Michael J. Fox's rib about the cop who raved about Back to the Future because "St. Elmo's Fire was probably sold out"
    and Robert Wagner's quip made in the company of Cary Grant, Prince Rainer, and others, that Rob had "banged all of their daughters."
    You have to read it.
  • (4/5)
    3.5 starsEnjoyable listening from the sexy-voiced Rob Lowe. I would have liked a lot more detail about The West Wing, but, otherwise, a fascinating glimpse into Hollywood and the 80's movies I grew up with.
  • (4/5)
    I had heard how well written this book was and it did not disappoint me. Lowe has a clever way of moving the narrative and intertwining the famous people who were in his life without coming off as "look who I know". His life was not always easy but he doesn't whine and is appreciative of what he has. An easy but entertaining read.
  • (4/5)
    Lowe can be so funny (for example, in the second Austin Powers movie, on Parks and Recreation, and now on the Hulu series The Grinder) that I expected him to be equipped with a little more irony and perspective than the average Hollywood actor. But he isn't. He's merely a decent man who went through the crazy cycle of huge fame bestowed too young and came out the other side with his soul intact—an accomplishment not to be sneered at. His memoir is a quick read. I felt compassion for him at times, while at others I was disappointed at his naïveté. (He believes that because he and his friends shared drinks, women, and their own company with a "balding and skinny" profile writer from New York magazine, the journalist was morally obligated to write a puff piece.) And it's telling to me that while he shows ample regret at the toll his lifestyle of excess took on himself, he can't think of any hurt he might have caused anyone else during those years.But this sounds too harsh. The '80s are long gone, and along with them, some of the star power that Rob Lowe abused. I believe in his talent, his sincerity, and his devotion to his family, and what else can we expect from someone who's walked in his shoes?
  • (3/5)
    Not terribly in-depth, but Rob Lowe has had a number of interesting experiences and tells his story clearly and with modesty. My biggest quibble would be with the way he overvalues his own work and that of his friends as well. But over all, you end up wishing him well and hoping for good things for him and his family.
  • (5/5)
    I rarely go to movies, don't know anything about Hollywood and never heard of Rob Lowe, but I happen to see this book at the public library. I picked it up and thumbed through it and though an unlikely read for me I decided to try it. And it is terrific. Highly charged sexually. Very well written. I felt like he was telling me personally the story of his life up until age 26. His next book will take us to his current age of about 47. His is a compelling story. Despite his addiction problems, it is an upbeat story and I felt good about the guy. I highly recommend it.
  • (4/5)
    I’ve only seen a handful of examples of Lowe’s acting; I like him, but he’s not a must-see actor for me (I tend to angle towards character rather than looks or celebrity which is perhaps why this is only about the sixth celebrity autobiography I’ve ever read). I thought he was one of the better-cast members of The Stand, but didn’t really notice him much at all until The West Wing, with which I fell absolutely in love, and it was that association that made me curious to read his biography. I did not believe that the humorous, slightly naïve, fiercely portrayed intelligence of Sam Seaborne came from nowhere – I though there was a good chance that the actor behind the character was articulate, smart, funny and worth reading. I wasn’t disappointed, except I could have happily read far more anecdotes from The West Wing than were actually included; although he covered the experience of working there only slightly less thoroughly than his first movie break, there was comparatively little about working with the other actors. I’m just going to have to get over the absence of DVD extras for that show some other way.Lowe is a generous, observant, likeable and intelligent writer; he doesn’t dwell on the dark points in his life, but neither does he deny them, and for a self-confessed one-time deep avoider of unpleasantness, I think this is a very mature autobiography. His enthusiasm for his work, and the culture surrounding it is heartening, in that is seems absolutely real rather than defensive or jaded, and he has led a fascinating life that he renders instantly relatable. From Rob Lowe, name dropping is a classy and exciting habit, because he is so genuinely thrilled to have met and worked with these people. No one is mentioned just for the same of getting their name into the text, everything adds context and texture to a life that is actually worth reading about on every level. I think I’ll be giving celebrity bios more of a chance on the strength of this one.
  • (4/5)
    I must say that this was bought as a holiday read and I am romping through it by my standards. I know that some readers / reviewers have criticsised the book as being one long name dropping session, but if you were brought up around people whom were or were later to become famous what else do you write about. Any way I am enjoying it very much.
  • (5/5)
    This was probably one of my favorite autobiographies to date. Having Rob Lowe read his own life story, you get a feel for the emotion behind certain chapters in his life, which was such a bonus. The experiences he shared from his childhood, of his parent's divorce, being uprooted from Ohio, and his mother's mental ups and downs really do correlate to the addictions and issues he struggled through later in life. Interestingly enough, he had a constant, internal dream of the stable family with a wife and children he loved. Despite his good looks, his easy women, and his foray into addiction, Hollywood seems to be something that he has figured out and given a spot in his life, but not given the spotlight. That journey was really interesting to sit back and experience with him.One of the things I found most interesting about this autobiography was Lowe's constant identification with his passions. Acting is obviously something that he is incredibly passionate about. He loves acting, and it shows in the way he talks about the movies and television shows he has been in. Rather than always playing the lead role, he learned that he had an aptitude for playing the supporting role in comedies. Now he is engaged in searching out great films that he can direct and be involved in producing. It's nice to see how passionate he is about acting and to hear about the craftsmen side of things. Stories I Only Tell My Friends is a juicy read, filled with Hollywood tales and insider stories. Rob Lowe has seemed to rub shoulders with presidents, stars, and royalty alike and has the stories to back them. However, his end goal seemed to be more about finding happiness, which he has done with a wife that is his match in friendship and love, and with the jewels of his life, his sons. The passion he feels for his family and acting make his life story even more interesting. I enjoyed listening to this audio book and would definitely recommend giving it a try. The biography feels true to Lowe as a person and allows us a nice insider view.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this quite a bit. The writing is tight, descriptive and well thought out. It has a nice balance between insight, storytelling and dirt. He did leave out quite a bit which surprised me - almost nothing about the scandal at the DNC, he mentioned he dated Melissa Gilbert but no mention of their engagement, pregnancy etc.
    Most disappointing was just how little of the book was dedicated to his recent career resurgence (West Wing, Brothers & Sisters, Parks & Recreation, Californication etc.).

    I wasn't expecting much and never gave Rob Lowe a second thought until he appeared on the West Wing but I really did enjoy his life story and while this book will never change the world it is worth a read.
  • (4/5)
    This was a fascinating depiction of a Hollywood career and a young man growing up and dealing with alcoholism. Rob Lowe is a great story teller and he picked his stories with great care to show a lovely narrative. A very reflective and what seems to be honest memoir that was engaging and delightful to listen to.
  • (4/5)
    Okay, I really have no interest in Rob Lowe--I think by the time I was aware of popular culture his moment had passed. He's good-looking in that sort of Ken-doll way, but not really the kind of guy who rings my bell.
    But this is everything I want in a celeb bio--just the right balance of classy and dishy. He names names and tells tales, but isn't nasty or too impressed with himself. (Okay, he's a little impressed with himself.)
    If this is the sort of thing you think you'd like, it's pretty good for that sort of thing.
  • (4/5)
    A good, easy read, but a little lop-sided. Lots of time is spent on his childhood and early years but I found it difficult to believe all the (apparently) chance encounters with Lisa Minelli, Cary Grant and many others. Great though to picture Rob and the Sheen boys shooting Super 8 films in the street. There is less here than I would have expected about his personal struggles with addiction and scandal. He acknowledges his time in rehab and alludes obliquely to the under-age sex tapes. You'll be better off on google if you want to find out more about this side of his life. I was very surprised at the brevity of the closing chapters about the West Wing and the focus on gripes about his billing and pay. But enough of my moans, some good stories here and great pictures. I can't decide whether he has avoided the obvious cliche of the celebrity confessional, or just avoided telling the real story.
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed the audio version of Rob Lowe's autobiography. He reads it himself, so it's like listening to him discuss his life. He's self-effacing, not overly sentimental, and never judgmental or mean. As far as I can tell, he shares the facts of his life, good and bad, mixes in a little humor, and moves on the next thing. He's had contact with many interesting people and for those of us who grew up in the '70s and '80s, the names he mentions are quite familiar. All in all, it was a fascinating listen. I'm glad he wrote it and sorry it had to end.
  • (5/5)
    I flew right through this autobiography filled with anecdotes as well as pertinents. Lowe's sense of humor and personality shine through without bitterness or rancor for the struggles he faced as well as charm, genuine modesty and gratitude. His love of family and his work are readily apparent and his path from potential troublemaker to star while desperately trying to find his place in the world is admirable.
  • (5/5)
    I listened to the audiobook with Rob Lowe narrating. He has a interesting story to tell and does a good job writing it. The narration was very good and his imitations of some actors he encounters are spot on. The Christopher Walken was superb and Matt Dillion. It really made the story so fun. I'd recommend listening to the book to get the full story. If not reading it would be just as fine.
  • (3/5)
    I don't usually go for pop culture (that would be considered a huge understatement in my household), so this was an unusual choice for me. A family friend gave us a stack of magazines to take on vacation. One of those was a copy of Vanity Fair that had an excerpt from this book centered around Rob Lowe's experience with Outsiders. It was enough to make me want to read the book.There was a fair amount of name-dropping but, if you can overlook that, his life has been interesting. Especially remarkable to me were the way some of his early chance encounters made an impact.