This is actually two delightful books in one: A memoir (Check out the fabulous pictures!) and guest interviews by the likes of Alan Alda, Joy Behar, Sid Caesar, Stephen Colbert, Billy Crystal, Tina Fey, Larry Gelbart, Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Griffin, Jay Leno, George Lopez, Elaine May, Conan O’ Brien, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Ben and Jerry Stiller, Lily Tomlin, Robin Williams and Steven Wright (Check out the caricatures!), along with classic jokes sprinkled throughout for good measure ( published 2010, with 381-382 pages).
Marlo Thomas paints a vivid detail of “growing up laughing” as the daughter of the late comedian (and equally successful TV show producer!) Danny Thomas, and later as a successful comedy star, dramatic actress and brilliant businesswoman herself. And it’s also about the art of being funny, according to the comedy “guests“.
The book abounds with outstanding chapters, such as “The Boys”, “The Funny Barber” (Harry Gelbart, who often told Marlo’s dad many wonderful jokes, was the father of Larry Gelbart-writer of “MASH”, “Oh, God!” and “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum,” among many others), “aka Orson“(about Marlo’s dates and dad’s reactions-very funny!), “Beverly Hills, My Neighborhood”, “My Dad” (about Marlo’s acting bug), and “Rose Marie” (about Marlo’s mother-she was of Italian descent, Danny Thomas was of Lebanese heritage-and the family friendship with the Sinatras).
There were also outstanding chapters that had great poignancy: “The Wives”, “The Bow”, “Oh, Donald” (about and a tribute to the late Ted Bessell, who co-starred with Marlo on “That Girl” as her boyfriend, Donald Hollinger), “Lew Parker” (about and a tribute to Lew Parker, who played Marlo’s dad, Lou Marie, on “That Girl”-Check out pages 238-239, for one of the joke stories Danny Thomas gave Marlo for Parker’s eulogy; you’ll be laughing through the tears!), “The Comedian’s Comedian” (about and a tribute to the late George Carlin-He played Ann Marie’s agent on the first season of “That Girl”), “Growing Up Free” is a very moving account about the special, “Free To Be…You and Me“. It started out first as a record, then a book, THEN the special (on ABC in 1972). “Growing A Feminist” and “The Elm House” are also moving.
Do you know why Danny Thomas wanted to build St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and why it was built in Memphis, Tennessee? It’s because one day he read in a newspaper that an 8-year-old black kid was hit by a car in the South. At the time, public institutions were segregated; none of the white hospitals, which were closer, would take the badly injured kid. And the child died.
For years, Mr. Thomas (who was also a conservative Republican) kept that newspaper clipping in his pocket all the time.
Check out “Take My Wife…and Husband, Please!” on page 35, “He Said/He Said“, the Ben and Jerry Stiller interview, the Rodney Dangerfield joke tribute on page 85, “The Dangerfield Zone“, “Testifying With Chris Rock”, “A Phone Call With Mr. Warmth“-the Don Rickles interview (hilarious!), the joke on page 193, “Fall-Down Funny“-the George Lopez interview, the joke on page 243, and “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” jokes on page 263 (Can you tell that I really liked this book?).
And yet another standout is “Epilogue“-It’s a just a few months after Danny Thomas’ funeral; George Burns walks into the home and says….to get the punch line, you’ll have to read this book!
The author, Marlo Thomas, is a woman of many talents; this is her now her SIXTH best-selling book!
Did you know that she has a degree in education and that she was also the creator and producer of “That Girl” (besides being its star)? She’s the National Outreach Director for St. Jude’s. And she’s married to Phil Donahue! (how cool is that?)