Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review - Shirley, I Jest!


Shirley, I Jest!: A Storied Life

By: Cindy Williams (with Dave Smitherman)
Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing
Publication Date: May 2015
ISBN: 978-1-63076-012-0
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: February 24, 2015

Cindy Williams of the famed Laverne and Shirley late 70’s sitcom, teams with Dave Smitherman and delivers a bittersweet recollection of when her life and Hollywood joined forces.

Coming from all-American, traditional, middle-class American values, it’s no wonder Cindy Williams would find her comfort zone in Hollywood some day. Before the birth of Laverne and Shirley in the late 70’s, however, Cindy got her taste of stardom in the iconic George Lucas film American Graffiti; surrounded by many up and coming Hollywood icons like Ron Howard and Harrison Ford.

With the assistance of her co-author, Dave Smitherman, the two set out to deconstruct Cindy’s acting life and step it forward to how she arrived at where she is today. Through a series of chapters that play out like a succession of one memorable moment after another, Ms. Williams takes the reader on an enviable trip down memory lane. There aren’t many people from a generation past who can relay a story of one particular night while waiting tables at the Whiskey a Go Go where she was punk’d by the late, great "Rider of the Storm," Jim Morrison. To take the light fantastic even more unbelievable, quite the experience to pen on one’s resume to tout she shared the stage with Gene Kelly; singing a duet of “You Wonderful You” at the Pasadena Playhouse (even if she was standing on his foot while sliding and gliding along to his lead).

Ms. Williams sets a positive tone early on with a heartfelt Forward written by Ed Begley, Jr. This book is a mere 163 pages, yet has a multitude of engaging accounts. Ms. Williams has shared what are clearly many fond memories she has gleaned from her Hollywood life. With the added input from Mr. Smitherman, the two work in beautiful tandem throughout Shirley, I Jest! The chapters have a natural transition from one to the next and there is no drag from one story as it lends way to the next account. The matter-of-fact tone can be heard—heard so clearly at times, one can feel the smile on Ms. Williams face when recounting certain periods of her acting career. As an added treat, there are a handful of photos from Laverne and Shirley days gone by that will take the reader back to that time when two girls who worked at a brewery in small town Wisconsin were just making their way and Americana was eating every second of the innocence up. Thanks for the memories Ms. Williams and I too have a special place in my memories for Boo Boo Kitty.

Quill says: Even if you don’t know who Laverne and Shirley are, Shirley, I Jest! will find its way into that part of you where melancholy lives and capture your interest throughout this read.