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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Non-Fiction Review: There I Go Again by William Daniels

I enjoy reading about prominent and not so prominent figures from time to time. I'm happy to say this was one of those times where an autobiography did what it was supposed to without going overboard.

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Release Date: March 1, 2017

There I Go Again is a celebrity memoir like no other, revealing the life of a man whose acting career has been so rich that millions of Americans know his face even while they might not recognize his name.

William Daniels is an enigma—a rare chameleon who has enjoyed massive success both in Hollywood and on Broadway and been embraced by fans of successive generations. Few of his peers inspire the fervor with which buffs celebrate his most iconic roles, among them George Feeny in Boy Meets World, KITT in Knight Rider, Dr. Mark Craig in St. Elsewhere, and John Adams in the play and film 1776.

Daniels guides readers through some of Hollywood’s most cherished productions, offering recollections of entertainment legends including Lauren Bacall, Warren Beatty, Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Mike Nichols, Jason Robards, Barbra Streisand, and many more.

Looking back on his seventy-five-plus-year career, Daniels realizes that although he never had the courage to say “no” to being an actor, he backed into stardom. With his wife, actress Bonnie Bartlett, by his side, he came to realize that he wound up exactly where he was supposed to be: on the screen and stage.

Overall reaction to the book? I love autobiographies to pieces and wish more celebrities and other prominent figures would write them. As it is I only know William Daniels as Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World but that character made such an impact on me as a kid that I had to know more about the actor that portrayed him so well.

And what an interesting life Mr. Daniels has had.

From his early beginnings as a child actor, to Broadway, to tv, William Daniels’ life is one interesting experience after another. Through his roles, readers get to know the man behind them. He reveals which of his many characters is most like him, and which character he enjoyed playing the most.

There I Go Again isn’t all business though, it delves into Daniels’ personal life as well, giving readers a fascinating look into his start as a child actor. For example, he reveals that it was his mother who all but forced him and his siblings into performing. Her relentlessness caused him to suffer from an overwhelming amount of self doubt throughout his entire career, despite the fact that he has been one of the most successful actors out there. It was only years later and with the help of an analyst that he questioned why he never went against what his mother wanted for him. This is important to remember since it seems his mother’s insistence on a quality performance may have played a role in Daniels’ way of picking what characters he would and would not play.

I could go on and on about what he discusses but it would inevitably fall short of what and how this book is written. Even though he has worked with some very notable people in his long career and has undoubtedly seen and heard some interesting things behind the scenes, Daniels is not a gossip. He doesn’t tell all about anyone which is great because There I Go Again is an autobiography of HIS life, not a chance to rat out fellow actors. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t get candid about the industry, he does, but it mostly pertains to his various work environments involving directors and producers.

He is unapologetically candid about himself as well. He spends time discussing the rough spots in his life, his marriage, and his career without trying to sugar coat anything or make himself look like the victim in every scenario. To some it may portray him as a difficult person, and that may be true but to me it showed him to be a real human being, not a fake product of the acting industry. As much as I love a fun character, at the end of the day that’s all it is, a character. Not the measure of a person.

By the end of the book I realized that William Daniels, or Bill as he refers to himself, isn’t just another actor, he’s a man who has done his rounds with and gotten roughed up a bit by life and has come out on the other side with quite a bit of insight and wisdom. That’s not something everyone can do. He is his own man but in a way he’s a little bit of all the characters he’s played too.

Click It or Skip It? Click It. This is one autobiography that sticks to what an autobiography should be.

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