Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography

Image of Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography
Release Date: 
July 30, 2010
St. Martin's Press
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Academy Award-winner Angelina Jolie is one of the most intriguing actresses of this generation—an adoptive parent, UN ambassador, and partner to one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs. She is a celebrated and intense actress, famous daughter of Academy Award-winner Jon Voight and one-time model Marcheline Bertrand.

Named the most powerful celebrity in the world, Angelina unseated Oprah Winfrey on the Forbes 2009 Celebrity 100 list. There are many who will wonder what more could possibly be written about this larger than life personality, a recovering drug addict once known more for her strange Hollywood hook-ups with both sexes, her tattoos and knife-play, than her roles in movies. What more could possibly be stated about Jolie—most recently seen in the movie Salt—a woman who once wore her lover’s blood in a vial around her neck?

Well, quite a bit actually.

Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography is a page-turner, at once titillating, scandalous, and informative.
The biography dives right into Angelina’s famous father’s early career. Jon Voight’s early experience in the theatre, his friendship with Dustin Hoffman, and his golden boy status are well detailed. The Voight portion of the book is quite compelling and substantial on its own. Readers could be forgiven if at first they began to feel that the biography reads as a tale of the father, not the daughter. However there is meat here, and Jolie herself cannot be understood without reflecting on the reasons for the volatile relationship with her father and the strange parenting style of her mother.

Morton clearly notes, in the beginning of the biography, how her mother was herself initially unable to bond with the infant daughter she gave birth to right at the same time her famous husband began an affair with Stacey Pickren. There is much speculation and comment on the psychological impact this early abandonment may have had on Jolie. The musings and comments from various doctors and psychologists, within the biography, make sense and seem supported by the behavior of Jolie throughout life. However, the comments are somewhat diminished by the simple fact that none of these doctors or psychologists ever treated Jolie in person. Their comments are made as assumed insights and readers must take them for what they are—speculation. Both Angelina and her brother James Haven sadly were made to suffer in the protracted angry divorce between her mother and father. That much is fact.

Not exactly an overnight success, Angelina started as a model—at one time thought to be the next Cindy Crawford—and slowly gained notoriety. Jolie did time dancing in music videos and was often passed over for roles partly because of her strong looks and personality. She didn’t fit the girl next door or girlfriend roles being offered.

Eventually Jolie landed roles in movies such as Foxfire and Hackers, not really notable works, but on Hackers she met and later married her first husband, British actor Jonny Lee Miller.

A turning point in her career came when she accepted the role of a doomed supermodel in Gia. Then a Golden Globe nomination came for George Wallace, and the star was in demand.

As Jolie’s acting reputation grew, so did her political motivation. She is now a highly respected UN ambassador and has reinvented herself as a savior of children through her global good works. Much of this has been written about before, however, as has the highly publicized breakup between Brad Pitt and his former wife Jennifer Aniston. When they met on set, Pitt and Angelina Jolie, cast as husband and wife in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, had immediate chemistry. Jolie had already adopted one child, Maddox, from Cambodia, a spot she was introduced to through filming Lara Croft. She would soon adopt more. Now parents to six children, some biological and others from various international adoptions, the Jolie-Pitts are as well known for their “rainbow family” as they are for their acting roles.

What is even more interesting here than the details of drug use and odd sexual behavior of Jolie’s younger years, were the questionable details of these various international adoptions. While on the one hand, celebrity adoptions are celebrated for raising the profile of adoption as a viable and beautiful way to make a family, there are numerous horrid details here in this biography—of criminal behavior, missing information, biological parents turning up alive when thought to be dead—that really cast a harsh light on international adoption. This is the part of the book that has been less publicized in various other media and is frankly scandalous. On more than one occasion it is revealed that parents of the children adopted by Jolie turned out to be alive, whereas they were assumed dead.

In the case of Jolie’s first adoption, when still married to Billy Bob Thornton, the adoption agent Lauryn Galindo herself fell under suspicion of trafficking. During a two-year probe it was alleged that she bought children for American families. She was later convicted and served two years in a federal penitentiary for money laundering and conspiracy to commit visa fraud.

Despite the alarming details of the international adoption, Angelina had begun her own family. Her first child was named Maddox. After she met like-minded actor Brad Pitt, who told her he would love to have a family mixed with adopted children and biological children, she searched the world for her next child. In Ethiopia they would find a little girl, Zahara, whose mother was reported to have died from AIDS. In 2005 they adopted her, although Angelina was, on paper, the sole adoptive parent, because the country wouldn’t allow adoptions by unmarried couples. A short time after the child was settled in her new home the biological mother surfaced alive.

Andrew Morton is one of the world’s most well known celebrity biographers. He has previously written Diana: Her True Story in her Own Words, revealing the inner world of Princess Diana. Morton also written Monica’s Story and Tom Cruise. He lives in London.

Jolie, still arguably in the prime of her career and not yet even close to middle-aged, continues to write the rest of her life. One wonders what might be revealed should Morton take a stab at a sequel.