After the tediousness of Tesla I needed something fun and enjoyable, My Mother Was Nuts fit the bill nicely. I know Penny Marshall from Nick & Nite reruns of Laverne and Shirley as well as A League of Their Own but it was nice to get to know a little bit more about her. My Mother Was Nuts was funny and honest, Marshall has a lot of crazy stories about her time in Hollywood and she is really open about some of her experiences.
She got pregnant young (in a time when riding a horse until you miscarried was easier to do than get an abortion) and got divorced after a few years. Penny couldn’t figure out her next step so her brother, Gary, suggested she come out to L.A. where he was having a successful career in television writing. He promised he would open doors for her but she had to do good work because he wouldn’t wager his career on her. She did a couple episodes of The Odd Couple and The Mary Tyler Moore Show before Gary put her & her friend, Cindy Williams, on an episode of Happy Days and the rest is history…
Besides playing Laverne DeFazio for eight seasons, Marshall has had a successful directing career; most notably becoming the first woman to reach 100 million dollars at the box office with Big and A League of Their Own. There is a lot of name dropping in this one, but it feels organic. Her brother is Gary Marshall and she was married to Rob Reiner for several years, these connections lead her know just about everyone in the Hollywood universe. After divorcing Rob, whom she remained friendly with, Penny dated Art Garfunkel for several years because her best friend, Carrie Fisher, was dating Paul Simon. Hollywood is a small, strange world.
While her family stories were funny it was her work related anecdotes that kept me turning pages. I didn’t realize what a trailblazer Penny was, perhaps because I was in diapers during her directing hey-dey, but it was really invigorating to read a celebrity memoir written by someone who has really accomplished a lot.
Unfortunately, we can blame Penny for Mark Wahlberg’s acting career.
Can’t win ’em all.