My Mother Was Nuts By Penny Marshall, a book review

 In Books and Movies


I don’t find myself reading autobiographies very often. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I like to escape to the land of fantasy, so I can avoid the everyday stress of life. I happened to see My Mother Was Nuts, a memoir by Penny Marshall in my Kindle on night. My dad, who shares my account, must have picked it up at some point. I was out of books and nothing was due in from the library for a while so I started reading. The opening hooked me in. Not everyone can tackle an armed robbery in their own home with such laissez faire like Penny Marshall, better known to most as Laverne from the 1970s sitcom Laverne and Shirley, and the director of Big and A League of Their Own.

This book bounces through Marshall’s early childhood growing up with her parents and two siblings in the Bronx, and walks you down the road she took to Hollywood, acting in and directing some of the 20th centuries most heartwarming TV shows and films. She had quite the love life as well. I found out more about her friend Carrie Fischer than I ever knew, and had no clue Marshall had been involved with Art Garfunkel.

Her memoir does have a few sad moments, like when a long time writer friend passes away, but this really shows how long she has been in the business. She came into Hollywood at a time when many of the actors that we know and love were just getting their start. She is friends with today’s young celebrities, as well as the old guard. She knows where some of the upstarts are headed if they don’t get their act together, but also sees the potential of the next generation.

I may not have been a fan of autobiographies before, but after reading Marshall’s I had to grab Carrie Fischer’s (to get her side of the story) and Penny’s older brother Garry Marshall’s memoir as well. She references him multiple times throughout her book. I want to see how his story unfolds.

Publisher’s Synopsis: At the age of twenty-six, Penny Marshall was a divorced mother of one living in the Bronx. One year later she starred in a Head & Shoulders commercial (she was the one with the dandruff) with Farah Fawcett. So began the unlikely career of one of Hollywood’s most accomplished directors.

My Mother Was Nuts tells the story of Marshall’s incredible life, from her starring role on the classic sitcom Laverne and Shirley to her trailblazing moment as the first woman to direct a movie grossing more than $100 million at the box office.

The book is a behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood life, exploring her friendships with John Belushi, Lorne Michaels, Art Garfunkel, and Carrie Fisher, her marriage and eventual divorce from Rob Reiner, and her experiences working with Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Geena Davis, Denzel Washington, and Drew Barrymore.

This is a book about Hollywood, womanhood, and the power of Spanx.

Title: My Mother Was Nuts
Author: Penny Marshall
Publisher: New Harvest/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (1st edition)
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover, paperback, eBook, audiobook
Language: English
Pages: 352 pages
ISBN: 978-0547892627
For ages: 18+

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  • Mom

    I just down-loaded “just Kids from the Bronx” by Arelene Alda , an accomplished writer and wife of Alan Alda, the actor. She was at a party with a number of equally famous friends. They all began to realize they grew up in the Bronx. She began collecting stories and through those was able to create a portrait of the Bronx’s past and present generations, many of whom are famous or on their way to becoming famous. So, I’m not surprised to learn Penny is from their, also. I’m looking forward to learning what’s so special about the Bronx…she was determined to prove that it’s not only Brooklyn that creates genius!

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