7 Hollywood Memoirs

A while back I mentioned my reading for guilty pleasure. I enjoy Hollywood memoirs. I particularly enjoy audiobooks read by the author. I mentioned, back in December, that I was reading a Dick Van Dyke memoir, and that I hoped to get through few of these Hollywood memoirs while I was on vacation.

Since that post, I’ve finished seven Hollywood memoirs. They are:

  1. My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke
  2. Keep Moving, and Other Tips and Truths about Aging by Dick Van Dyke
  3. I Remember Me by Carl Reiner
  4. I Just Remembered by Carl Reiner
  5. This Time Together by Carol Burnett
  6. Even This I Get to Experience by Normal Lear
  7. My Happy Days in Hollywood by Garry Marshall

Something about each of these Hollywood personalities resonated with me. Experience has taught me that any memoir has to be taken with a grain of salt. Yet the personalities that come through in these seven books seem genuine. They display their good sides and bad. They are forthcoming with their successes and failures. And each and and ever one of the authors came across as down-to-earth. Perhaps that is because every one of the authors is at least an octogenarian. They are, as of this writing, all still alive, and all still active, and that can certainly have an effect on one’s perspective on life. Many of them are on Twitter. Carl Reiner and Norman Lear are virtually tied for being the oldest active celebrities on Twitter. After reading the memoirs I started following both of them, and it delightful to see them in my Twitter stream.

There is a natural evolution to the way I read the books. I started with Dick Van Dyke because he was the most familiar to me. Reading his memoir, made me want to read more about Carl Reiner, who wrote, directed, and produced the Dick Van Dyke show. Carol Burnett had ties to both of them. Norman Lear was mentioned numerous times in the volumes, and so I had to read his book—which was the longest of the bunch by far. And then, of course, there was Garry Marshall. I saw him once, entering a Marie Callendar’s in Toluca Lake near where I used to live. I was in the Marie Callendar’s at the time, and I thought it astonishing that someone of Marshall’s stature would eat in a place like that. Of course, I would have known better had his memoir been published 15 or 20 years ago.

One more thing resonated with me about all 5 of the people who wrote these 7 memoirs: they were all hard workers. Hollywood types are often portrayed as laid back, but not these five. Perhaps it is because of the time they came up in Hollywood, or perhaps it is because they are all multi-talented, but reading the memoirs made it clear that none of them sat back on their laurels. I am always impressed with people who can pack so much into their day.

It turned out that reading these memoirs was far more than a guilty pleasure for me. And I did not want it to end. So I’ve decided to keep it going, at least for a little while longer. I am now well into Tim Conway’s memoir What’s So Funny? My Hilarious Life.


  1. I’ve read or listened to a few of the titles you’ve mentioned, and am glad to get more ideas. Along the same lines, I enjoyed the audiobook of Penny Marshall’s memoir, My Mother Was Nuts. I haven’t read brother Garry’s book yet; it will be interesting to see if their memories match up or if they present wildly different versions of the same family stories.

    1. Erica, you reminded me that I actually have that Penny Marshall memoir, although I haven’t listened to it yet. I got a year or two ago when it was an Audible Daily Deal, I think.


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