Comedian Shares Life Through Laughter #FridayFunReads #Reblogs #Inspiration

I posted a version of the following review here a few years ago. The version below appears in the spring/summer issue of Magnets and Ladders, which can be read here. Thanks to Mary-Jo Lord, editor-in-chief, for revisions she made to this review, with my permission, of course. Enjoy!

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COMEDIAN SHARES LIFE THROUGH LAUGHTER

REVIEW OF IF YOU ASK ME: (AND OF COURSE YOU WON’T)  BY BETTY WHITE

BY ABBIE JOHNSON TAYLOR

Copyright 2022

 

Could you use some good laughs, especially during these unprecedented times? If so, look no further than Audible, where you can download a recording of this book, narrated by Betty White herself, may she rest in peace. I couldn’t help laughing when I saw her on television as the scatter-brained Rose in The Golden Girls. She was also on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but I was a little young when that was running. My mother watched that as religiously as I watched The Golden Girls.

According to her biography on her IMDB page, Betty White was born on January 17th, 1922 in Oak Park Illinois. Her mother was a homemaker, and her father was a lighting company executive. Her family moved to Los Angeles when Betty was two. She attended Horace Mann Elementary and Beverly Hills High School. Hoping to be a writer, she became more interested in acting after writing and playing the lead role in a graduation play at Horace Mann.

Her television career began in 1939 when she and a former high school classmate sang songs from The Merry Widow on an experimental Los Angeles channel. She also worked in radio and movies. Best known for her roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970) and The Golden Girls (1985), she performed in a variety of other television shows including Life with Elizabeth, Date with the Angels, The Betty White Show, The Golden Palace, Hot in Cleveland, and Betty White’s Off Their Rockers. After Rue McClanahan’s death in 2010, Betty White was the only living golden girl until she passed on December 31st, 2021 at the age of ninety-nine. She won seven Emmy awards and received twenty Emmy nominations. She was the first woman to receive an Emmy award for game show hosting Just Men and is the only person to have an Emmy award in all female comedic performing categories. In May of 2010, she was the oldest person to guest host Saturday Night Live and won a Primetime Emmy Award for this. As of 2012, she was the oldest Emmy nominee.

In If You Ask Me, Betty White combines her ideas on such topics as friendship, technology, and aging with anecdotes from her childhood, career, and work with animals.

Humorous quips about exercise and hair color, and her rumored crush on Robert Redford are delivered in classic Betty White style. She shares what happens backstage at awards ceremonies and how her role as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show changed her career.

She talks about developing a friendship with a guerilla, meeting two whales, and adopting a dog rejected by Guide Dogs for the Blind. I can relate when she says how frustrating it is not to recognize a face, especially when the face belongs to a celebrity she meets at a party and thinks she should know. Being visually impaired, I have the same problem but don’t run into celebrities at parties. In any case, I recommend this book to anyone needing some good laughs.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

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What to Read or Watch #MondayMusings #OpenBookBlogHop #Inspiration

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “What is your favorite genre to read/watch (movies/tv)? Any book recommendations?”

Lately, I’ve been drawn to memoirs, some historical fiction, and poetry. I recently read West with Giraffes, a fictionalized account of a true story of two giraffes, who, after surviving the hurricane that hit New York City in 1938, are transported across the country to the San Diego Zoo. You can read my review of this book here.

I don’t watch television anymore. In my opinion, there isn’t a lot on that’s worth watching. So, I can’t justify paying for cable. But once in a while, I’ll watch a movie, either a comedy or drama that doesn’t contain much violence, sex, or strong language. I recently enjoyed All Creatures Great and Small, a movie I’d never seen, although I’ve read many of James Herriot’s books.

How about you? What’s your favorite book or movie genre? You can click here to participate in this week’s hop and read other bloggers’ responses.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. She has short brown hair which is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

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Second Memoir Describes More of Actress’s Whirlwind Career #Friday Fun Reads

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Home Work: A Novel of My Hollywood Years

by Julie Andrews

Copyright 2019

 

What Amazon Says

 

In this New York Times bestselling follow-up to her critically acclaimed memoir, Home, Julie Andrews reflects on her astonishing career, including such classics as Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and Victor/Victoria.

In Home, the number one New York Times international bestseller, Julie Andrews recounted her difficult childhood and her emergence as an acclaimed singer and performer on the stage.

With this second memoir, Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years, Andrews picks up the story with her arrival in Hollywood and her phenomenal rise to fame in her earliest films — Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Andrews describes her years in the film industry — from the incredible highs to the challenging lows. Not only does she discuss her work in now-classic films and her collaborations with giants of cinema and television, she also unveils her personal story of adjusting to a new and often daunting world, dealing with the demands of unimaginable success, being a new mother, the end of her first marriage, embracing two stepchildren, adopting two more children, and falling in love with the brilliant and mercurial Blake Edwards. The pair worked together in numerous films, including Victor/Victoria, the gender-bending comedy that garnered multiple Oscar nominations.

Cowritten with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, and told with Andrews’s trademark charm and candor, Home Work takes us on a rare and intimate journey into an extraordinary life that is funny, heartrending, and inspiring.

 

My Thoughts

 

Having read Julie Andrews’ first memoir, Home, I like how her introduction to Home Work quickly fills the reader in on her earlier life. As a child, I enjoyed Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Her descriptions of how these films were made fascinated me. I also enjoyed her accounts of the making of her other movies and television programs, most of which I’d never heard of or seen. Her whirlwind of marriages, filming schedules, family drama, charity work, and traveling made my head spin.

As an author, I can appreciate her explanations of what inspired her to write Mandy and other children’s books. I believe my mother read Mandy to me when I was little.

In 1986, Julie Andrews returned to Broadway with her husband, Blake Edwards, to put together a production of Victor/Victoria. That’s where Home Work ends. I would like to know more about her career after that. I understand she developed some sort of throat problem, which made it difficult or impossible for her to speak. She must have recovered because her narration of the audiobook version of Home Work is exquisite. I hope she’ll write a third memoir.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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Would You Give Up Your Television Set? #Writing Prompt

When I was a kid, I enjoyed watching television, even though I couldn’t see much of what went on unless I sat close to the set. In my teenaged years during the 1970’s, my favorite shows were The Bionic Woman, Little House on the Prairie, The Walton’s, and Dallas. I also enjoyed such situation comedies as Alice, The Jeffersons’, and MASH.

When I graduated from high school, my parents gave me my very own television set. It sat on a table next to the armchair in my bedroom, so I could see it more easily. Although it was a black and white set, it opened a new world for me. I could see what my favorite characters looked like and could take pleasure in watching Lawrence Welk’s dancers perform.

Six months later, Santa brought me a color television set. By that time, I’d become a fan of Star Trek reruns. For the first time, I discovered that Captain Kirk wore a gold shirt. Mr. Spock wore a blue shirt, and everyone else wore red shirts.

When I went away to college, I took my TV set with me and watched in my dorm room when I wasn’t studying or participating in extracurricular activities. But over the years, I developed more of an interest in books than television. When I married my late husband in 2005, I was forced to give up TV altogether. Although we had a set, Bill didn’t watch and didn’t want cable. This was fine with me because by that time, there wasn’t much on television I liked. We watched movies on videotapes, but that was it.

After Bill became incapacitated as a result of his strokes, and we moved to another house that could more easily be made accessible to his wheelchair, we got cable television because it was one way he could tune into his beloved Colorado Rockies games and other sports events that weren’t always available on the radio. I occasionally watched news and other programs, but that was the extent of our television-watching.

After Bill passed, I discontinued the cable service and relegated our television set to the garage. I suppose I could subscribe to NetFlix or some other streaming service I could use on my computer or tablet, but I don’t see the need. I have books, podcasts, and social activities to keep me entertained. There’s nothing on television I need to watch.

How about you? Did you have any favorite television programs when you were growing up? Would you get rid of your television set now? Thanks to blogger Cindi for inspiring this post, and thank you for reading and responding.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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Thursday Book Feature: In Pieces

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.In Pieces

by Sally Field

Copyright 2018.

 

In Pieces is a touching and sometimes funny autobiography of this well-known actress. Sally Field starts by talking about her life growing up in California. Her mother was an actress who never became popular, and her father served during World War II. After her father returned, her parents divorced, and her mother eventually married a Hollywood stunt man who abused Sally and her older brother. She explains how she became involved in theater as a teen-ager and how she got her first job soon after graduating from high school.

While detailing her career as an actress in television and movies, she describes having an abortion after an affair with a boy she doesn’t remember, marrying a boy she met in high school, giving birth to two sons, divorcing her first husband, then marrying another man ten years later, giving birth to another son, then divorcing her second husband. She also discusses her relationship with Burt Reynolds in the 1970’s while they were starring together. At the end, she talks about how she and her mother came to terms with her abuse at the hands of her stepfather before her mother died. This book includes some of her journal entries, and the Audible version, which I purchased, includes a pdf document with photos.

I always enjoy reading about celebrities’ lives, especially those with whom I’m familiar. Sally Field’s story didn’t disappoint me. I loved the way she narrated it, and at times, I thought it should be made into a movie with Sally Field starring as herself. Maybe it will someday.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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