I find Sterling Hayden a fascinating actor and a fascinating man. As an actor, he has a quality - like many of the most interesting actors - of sometimes seeming to not be acting at all, or even to not know how to act, and then he'll just take off - like his bravura scenes in Doctor Strangelove - and completely blow you away. And I think I find him even more interesting as a person. And as a writer.
His autobiography, Wanderer, is one of the most brilliant, memorable books I've ever read. Nothing like any kind of a movie star memoir, the writing is completely audacious and sometimes shockingly, personally honest. Told in flashback and flashforward, with a recklessly poetic use of language and bold shifts in tense - and from first person, to second, to third - he tells his story in the context of his experiences of the great masted sailboats - the great passion of his life - and his constant longing for that life, a life of ships and the ocean. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, even to those, like me, who have no interest in boats or sailing; it's a book that deserves to be better known.
(Of course, he was also really good looking.)