Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Mother Was Nuts

My Mother Was Nuts: A Memoir by Penny Marshall  326 pp.

My first memories of Penny Marshall were from the "Laverne & Shirley" television show. Marshall's first memories are of the dancing school run by her quirky mother who believed everyone deserved entertainment. She taught hundreds of kids how to tap in her basement dancing school, including her three children: Garry, Ronny, and Penny. Marshall is brutally honest about her life including the mistakes and successes, drug use, her failures as a mother, her love life & marriages, and the entertainment industry where she was a reluctant and unintentional pioneer movie director. She is often abrasive but also sincere when she tells about her family and the incredible number of friends she has had in "the business." And she never fails to give her brother, writer/director/producer Garry Marshall, credit for her successful start in Hollywood. There were a number of things about her I didn't know, like her decades old friendship with Carrie Fisher, her relationship with Art Garfunkel who took her on a motorcycle tour of Europe, charity work, and giving unknown actors their first big break.  I enjoyed her honesty, bluntness, and humor.

I listened to the audio version of the book, read by the author. The cadence of Marshall's reading was occasionally an issue, especially her pauses at odd moments in sentences. But you can always tell the subjects that are close to her heart when she frequently chokes up while speaking. You can hear the tears when she talks of her mother's declining health and the deaths of good friends.

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