OUT OF THE CORNER

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In a gossipy, lively memoir, Grey (b. 1960) chronicles her evolving sense of identity—as a woman, actor, wife, and, most satisfyingly, mother—in what she calls an “ongoing coming-of-age story.” Born into an “extended family of Broadway royalty,” the daughter of actors Joel Grey and Jo Wilder, she was frequently uprooted between Los Angeles and New York, where her world was enlivened by her parents’ famous friends: actors, directors, artists, writers, activists, and even New York Mayor John Lindsay. “We lived in some extraordinary places,” Grey writes, “among extraordinary, accomplished humans.” Determined to be an actor, she enrolled at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre while, like many hopefuls, she worked as a server at a series of restaurants. Although she went out on plenty of auditions, she attributes her lack of success to her nose, which made her “not quite ‘pretty enough’ for the popular girl, but not awkward enough to pass for the loser.” Two roles charged her career: Matthew Broderick’s sister in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and Baby Houseman in Dirty Dancing (1987) with co-star Patrick Swayze. Grey recounts in detail the challenges of making and promoting Dirty Dancing, a movie that few had faith in—but that catapulted her to stardom. She is forthcoming about her many relationships, including with Broderick; Johnny Depp; an older director; a sexy hairdresser; and director and actor Clark Gregg, whom she married, recently divorced, and with whom she has a daughter. Grey has dealt with some severe health problems, drug and alcohol abuse, and persistent anxiety and depression. “Ambition had a strangely distasteful and negative connotation to me,” she writes, continuing, “I had never been a big fan of competition and was quick to avoid conflict.” Yet at the age of 50, she enthusiastically competed on Dancing With the Stars—and won.

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