Read Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography Online

Authors: Andrew Morton

Tags: #General, #Biography & Autobiography, #Biography, #Women, #United States, #Film & Video, #Performing Arts, #Entertainment & Performing Arts, #Rich & Famous, #Motion Picture Actors and Actresses, #Motion Picture Actors and Actresses - United States, #Jolie; Angelina

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ANGELINA: AN UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY. Copyright © 2010 by Andrew Morton. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Morton, Andrew.

Angelina : an unauthorized biography / Andrew Morton. — 1st ed.
  p. cm.
ISBN 978-0-312-55561-0
1. Jolie, Angelina, 1975– 2. Motion picture actors and actresses—United States—Biography. I. Title.
PN2287.J583M67    2010


First Edition: August 2010

10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

To Craig, Dave, and Max



One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn’t have to understand something to feel it. By the time the mind is able to comprehend what has happened, the wounds of the heart are already too deep.




The room was stark and bare: white carpet, white curtains, white walls, and no furniture except for a white crib. For more than a year, a baby girl lived there, cared for by a ragtag assortment of babysitters—mainly out-of-work actors or acquaintances, working shifts at three dollars an hour around the clock.

The child rarely knew if the person putting her to bed was the one who would dress and feed her in the morning. There were days at a stretch when her mother, who lived in an apartment three stories below, would not visit her. When the mother sometimes came upstairs for coffee, she would sit there with the babysitter, crying and lamenting her lot. “It just broke my heart,” one of those babysitters, Krisann Morel, told me more than thirty years later. “It upsets me now. I really felt for that kid.”

The room was nicknamed “the Ivory Tower” and the baby seen as some kind of infant Rapunzel, out of the Grimm Brothers fairy tale about a young girl locked in a tower.

During this time the child’s mother never read to her, never put her to bed or took her to the park, and for a long time she resisted suggestions to have the walls of her child’s bedroom painted in bright colors to give the toddler some stimulation. Only reluctantly did she give her a few toys to play with.

That baby girl was Angelina Jolie. She was sent to live in the Ivory Tower after her father, Jon Voight, left her mother, Marcheline Bertrand.
When Krisann told Marcheline that her daughter needed more time and attention from her, Marcheline responded, “Angie reminds me so much of Jon right now that I cannot be around her. It’s just too painful.”

Angelina’s earliest childhood memory is of lying in her crib looking out the window toward the sky. Without knowing the circumstances, Angie would later see that experience as a metaphor for her life. “I’ve just been staring out a window all my life . . . thinking there was somewhere I could finally be grounded and happy.”


There was a day after moving to Beverly Hills when I truly realized that I could actually marry someone famous.




When Marcia Lynne Bertrand and her family moved to the Hollywood she and her mother had always dreamed about, neighbors in their hometown of Riverdale, Illinois, were more skeptical than jealous. “We couldn’t believe someone we knew was actually moving to Beverly Hills,” recalls Marianne Follis Angarola, a classmate of Raleigh “Rollie” Bertrand’s. “There was some taunting of Rollie, because the idea of moving to Beverly Hills surely had to be a lie!”

Not only was it true, but the family, which shipped out of Riverdale in September 1966, was moving in some style. They had bought a new, four-bedroom, ranch-style home on an exclusive private estate in the hills above Sunset Boulevard, which was developed by Paul Trousdale in the late 1950s. While the parents would have been impressed by the acres of marble floor and the full-height windows that looked over the pool and on to downtown Los Angeles in the distance, as well as by the spacious backyard at 515 Arkell Drive, the Bertrand children were thrilled to be able to write to their friends back home that they lived on the same estate as Groucho Marx, Dean Martin, and Elvis Presley. Of course, no one in Riverdale believed them. Local legend has it that Debbie Bertrand even mailed her former school friends some loose change she had taken from the actor Don Adams—then the star of the TV hit
Get Smart—
to “prove” that she babysat for his children.

Marcia Lynne’s younger brother, Rollie, quickly embraced the Hollywood lifestyle. For his fifteenth birthday his parents, aware of his ambition to be a Formula One racing driver, gave him a red Ferrari sports car—even though he was too young to drive. That little inconvenience did not put the brakes on the young roustabout. When he went on a date with Gina Martin, a daughter of Dean Martin’s, he asked his friend Peter Martini to take the wheel. He clearly enjoyed life in the fast lane. As his friend Randy Alpert, the son of jazz musician Herb Alpert, recalls: “Raleigh was a great guy and a good friend. We had a million fun times in Beverly Hills. Girls, cars, girls, cameras, Wild Turkey, girls, Rainbow Bar and Grill, racing, girls, Martini House, parties, and very often some girls.” A far cry from life in Riverdale.

In her own way, Marcia Lynne was at least as starry-eyed, if not more so, as the rest of her family. Like her mother, she avidly read the tabloids, soaking up the stories about the stars. There was a vicarious thrill about living in the midst of so many celebrities.

Nevertheless, her exciting new life had its social costs. Marcia Lynne was careful to conceal her family’s unglamorous origins from her classmates at Beverly Hills High School, talking vaguely about one day living in New York. Fellow student Adriane Neri remembers Marcia Lynne as “quiet, inconspicuous, one of those artsy people on the edge of things.”

It didn’t take long for Marcia Lynne to absorb the overarching dictum of life in Hollywood: You can be anyone you want to be. After graduating from Beverly Hills High in 1969, she joined the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute and signed with the William Morris Agency to pursue modeling and acting work. She began to affect a more exotic persona, calling herself Marcheline, which she explained was the way her French-Canadian grandmother, Marie-Louise Angelina, pronounced her name. Her family still called her Marcia.

She took to drinking French vanilla instant coffee and collecting French crockery and other artifacts. Just to add an exotic frisson, the family believed that there was a dash of Iroquois Indian in the bloodline, dating back to their French-Canadian settler roots. Certainly with her swooping dresses, embroidered headbands, and long hair, she was a poster child for the hippie generation. As she left her teenage years behind, something changed inside her. She later told a close friend: “There was a day after
moving to Beverly Hills when I truly realized that I could actually marry someone famous.”

Marcia Lynne was born on May 9, 1950, to Lois and Rolland Bertrand. Roland had just been named manager of his father-in-law’s bowling alley in Riverdale, Illinois. “Bowling was a heck of a business at the time,” observes local historian Carl Durnavich. “Everybody bowled. You couldn’t get a lane sometimes. People either played baseball or they bowled.”

The nearby industrial town of Harvey was the largest manufacturing base in the country at the time; jobs were plentiful, crime was unheard-of, and everybody knew everyone else in the town of four thousand people. The Riverdale where Lois was raised was straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, complete with white picket fences and roses around the door. Durnavich compares it to the setting of the movie
the story of a saccharine-sweet small town where uncomfortable and unruly thoughts and ideas were shuffled under the sidewalk.

Life in Riverdale was comfortable, secure, and recognizable—if a tad dull. Lois June Gouwens dreamed of getting out, of becoming a star on the silver screen. The highlight of her week was when the glossy movie magazines arrived at the grocery store across the street from the tavern her parents owned. The moment the magazines were unloaded, she would dart to the grocery, reaching up to the rack on the front counter for the latest issue of
Movie Mirror
Motion Picture.
Then she would curl up in a chair in the family’s apartment above the bar and pore over the photographs of Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Ginger Rogers, and other Hollywood stars of the day.

Lois’s father, Roy Gouwens, had earned his wealth the hard way, working as a cement laborer to save up for the down payment on a mom-and-pop alehouse that he and his wife, Virginia, known by everyone as Jean, called the Gouwens Tavern. In the community they had a reputation as straight dealers, honest, hardworking, and dependable. In 1941 they sold the tavern to Jean’s sister and her husband, a deal that enabled Roy and a partner to open the ten-lane Parkview Bowling Alley just as the craze for the sport was taking off.

An only child indulged by doting parents, Lois had a dressing table in her bedroom decked out with a halo of lightbulbs just like in the magazine
pictures she had seen of a typical Hollywood star’s dressing room. At night she would spend hours in front of the mirror, carefully pinning her dark hair for the following morning’s cascade of curls, as was the fashion of the day. As she pinned and brushed, brushed and pinned, she made her plans and dreamed her dreams. “One day I’m going to be a movie star,” she told anyone who would listen, including her cousin Don Peters.

After she finished high school in 1946, just after the end of World War II, her parents paid for her to enroll at a modeling school in downtown Chicago run by Patricia Stevens. As she waited for the call from a Hollywood agent or pictured herself on the cover of
Lois worked in the typing pool of the upmarket Chicago department store Marshall Field. Even the commute into the big city provided an ersatz glamour and a cosmopolitan appeal when contrasted with the familiar faces and unchanging rhythms of her home village. Lois had been born and raised in Riverdale, like her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, her ancestors having sailed for America from Holland during the early nineteenth century.

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