Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Review: Hello Darlin', by Larry Hagman and Todd Gold (Guest Post by The Husband)

Hello, Darlin': Tall (and Absolutely True) Tales About My Life
by Larry Hagman and Todd Gold 
272 pages 

Note: The Husband and I are huge fans of Larry Hagman's and especially of the show "Dallas," which we both watched faithfully while growing up and now as adults. To us, the passing of Larry Hagman feels like losing a family member. The following is a review of Hagman's autobiography, which The Husband wrote in October 2009 - well before the current incarnation of "Dallas," but after finishing the hardback version of the book. (Pictured is the paperback edition.) 

Larry Hagman is one of my all-time favorite actors. J.R. Ewing has been as much an integral part of my life as has Archie Bunker - portrayed, ironically enough, by Hagman's close friend Carroll O'Connor. Hagman's portrayal of J.R. and the phenomenon that was "Dallas" defined the late 1970s/early 1980s for many Americans.

But, if you are looking for tall tales about the "Dallas" years in Hagman's autobiography, you'll have to wait until page 181 [of a 272-page book]. The 13 years of "Dallas" zip by in Hagman's story with a few stories, opinions and recaps. Surprisingly, however, despite this you'll not be disappointed in this book. In actuality, the seemingly short-shrift given to "Dallas" is simply the way Hagman views his life: "Dallas" was but one of a string of unbelievably lucky breaks received by a man who lived an extraordinarily lucky life.

Hagman doesn't hate "Dallas" - far from it. He is fully aware and grateful for the tens of millions of dollars it has earned him. He can still remember being so low on money that he had to rent out his home to Peter Sellers for a month [while he and his wife, Maj slept on a mattress in Peter Fonda's office]. But Hagman's life was noteworthy before "Dallas" and if his post-"Dallas" career has been quieter, his successful recovery from a liver transplant brought him continued reknown.

And one of the most enjoyable things about the book is Hagman's seemingly endless encounters with other celebrities. Granted, with a mother as famous as Mary Martin was in her day, it's not unusual that Hagman met famous people long before he himself would reach the stage or screen. Still, Hagman's eclectic list of friends over the years - in addition to Fonda, Sellers and O'Connor - include: Ray Bradbury, Marlon Brando, Art Buchwald, David Crosby, Cary Grant, Joel Grey, Dennis Hopper, Margot Kidder, Richard Lewis, Steve McQueen, Peter Marshall, Lee Marvin, Burgess Meredith, Jack Nicholson, Charlotte Rae, George C. Scott, and last but certainly not least: The Who's Keith Moon.

    A quick and funny read. 

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