Tag Archives: “My Mother Was Nuts” book review


Penny Marshall, one of our favorite actors – talk about a nut – recently published My Mother Was Nuts: A Memoir (New Harvest 2012). The title alone sold us on the book. In fact, we loved it so much that we created our first Little Nutthings V.I.N. (Very Important Nut) as a tribute to Ms. Marshall. The design is based on the book cover. As always, the figurine is a real nut that was transformed in the LN lab. Following is our book review.

Penny Marshall - 2nd Generation Nut

Penny Marshall – 2nd Generation Nut

We read it on a digital platform and are kicking ourselves for not enjoying this experience as an audiobook. It’s just that kind of story, because Penny is that kind of person.

The memoir tells of Penny’s childhood growing up in the Bronx with two older siblings, a largely absent father, several dogs that came and then quickly went (“to the country”, her mother said), a grandmother in residence, a grandfather who moved across the hall to live with two other elderly ladies, friends and neighbors who variously believed the family was Jewish and Catholic, and a rather distinctive, dare we say nutty, mother.

Her requirement that Penny attend classes at mom’s dance studio was not a welcome one, and the relationship would not be described as a close one. Still, the Penny’s mom was clearly an enormously influential force in the girl’s life. She worked outside the home at a time when that was a rare thing, hated cooking (and did it poorly), divorced her husband, pursued fame, however modest, with a passion, and generally seems like a pioneer of mandatory feminism. Though the portrait Penny paints of her mother is not unremittingly sunny and doesn’t give her much credit for her parenting skills (the funny bits here have an edge of sadness to them), it is illuminating and thought provoking.

The highlights, and a few lowlights, of that fabulous career are sketched out in this 320-page book, including an appearance on The “Jackie Gleason Show” in 1955 to her breakout role on “The Odd Couple”; her friendship with John Belushi and wrestling matches with Cindy Williams; marriage; divorce; marriage; the ground-breaking spinoff show “Laverne & Shirley”; and gallivanting with Carrie Fisher, Tom Hanks, Mark Wahlberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert De Niro, and Whitney Houston.

Penny’s rules: “try hard, help your friends, don’t get too crazy, and have fun.”

Words to live by, Ms. Marshall. As for our nutty readers, please let us know your thoughts on the book.

Live Well … and Out of the Shell™ in 2013!