Key Points:

Hollywood's old guard have decided to tell all before it is too late.

A wave of books by actors from an older, arguably more glamorous, era are likely to strike a valedictory note and represent a final settling of scores - as well as a last chance to cash in on sexual indiscretions - and American bookshops are clearing their shelves for the season of the former superstars baring all.

Tony Curtis, Diahann Carroll, Robert Wagner and Roger Moore are among at least seven movie veterans preparing to tell all about their long and sometimes scandalous pasts in time for Christmas. All of them have lived a bit - the authors' average age is 76.

Wagner's marriage to Natalie Wood features in his book, Pieces of My Heart, and he breaks his 27-year silence about the night she drowned after falling from his yacht, where the couple had been drinking with fellow actor Christopher Walken.

Wagner says that the last time he saw his wife, she was in the cabin fixing her hair and apparently preparing for bed. Wagner, 78, star of Hart to Hart, also recalls his romance with actress Barbara Stanwyck and writes that dating Elizabeth Taylor "was like sticking an eggbeater in your brain".

The biggest name is Tony Curtis, who starred in Some Like It Hot. In his long-awaited book, American Prince, the 80-year-old former matinee idol, whose many conquests included Marilyn Monroe, writes of his marriage to Janet Leigh: "When Janet and I hit, we became the undisputed darlings of the Hollywood media. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor? Forget it. Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher? Not a chance."

Turning to his use of drugs in the 80s, Curtis confesses: "One of the big reasons I started using cocaine was that I was told it was great for sex. It didn't make me superhuman in the longevity department, but it certainly did make my sexual experiences more intense."

Sex is, inevitably, a recurring theme in the books. There is a full chapter devoted to the love life of four-times married Diahann Carroll in her book The Legs are the Last to Go. Carroll, 73, who appeared in the TV series Dynasty, discloses details of her affair with Sidney Poitier when each of them was married to someone else.

Hot on the heels of 78-year-old Sean Connery's discreet memoir, Being a Scot, comes fellow 007 Roger Moore's autobiography, My Word is My Bond. The 81-year-old recalls throwing a chair at the wall in frustration at Grace Jones's heavy metal music in the next-door dressing room during the filming of A View to a Kill.

Christopher Plummer, 78, praises Julie Andrews, his co-star in The Sound of Music, or "S&M" as he calls it for short. But his memoir, In Spite of Myself, is less generous to "that reprobate" actor Jason Robards Jr and describes director Elia Kazan as "this chameleon of chameleons [who] might change into you, wear your skin, steal your soul".

Youngest of the crop is George Hamilton, 69, who, in Don't Mind If I Do, tells how he witnessed a suicide attempt by Judy Garland.