Author: Dawn Williams
Ted Lewis, a clarinetist and showman with a decades-long career, was one of
the first Northern bandleaders to try to master jazz. He also secretly
fathered an out-of-wedlock daughter. Dawn Williams, the daughter in
question, has attempted to combine her own biography with that of her
father in her slightly uneven but ultimately rewarding book, "Me and My
Conceived during a one-night stand and brought up by a single mother,
Williams had a childhood fascination with Ted Lewis, and often put on her
own shows where she would imitate Lewis' famed "Me and My Shadow" routine.
She wasn't told the details of her paternity until she was an adult and it
was then that she developed an urge to learn more about her father and
write his biography.
Although the discovery that an individual has been secretly fathered by a
celebrity always makes for an interesting story, Williams includes too much
extraneous information in the first half of the book (her autobiography) to
actually make this so; some streamlined editing would have made this
section much more compelling. As it is, the reader must slosh through some
pretty dull stuff before getting to chapter 20 where Williams discovers
the truth regarding her paternity.
But the second half of the book -- the Ted Lewis biography - is quite a
payoff. Ted Lewis had a long and successful career which began in New York
City's Tin Pan Alley and sailed through the years of radio, film and
television. While portraying her father's insatiable drive to succeed in
the entertainment industry and his subsequent stardom, Lewis has brought a
slice of American entertainment history sharply into focus and that is a
"My Father's Shadow" is a rewarding read for those with an interest in the
history of American entertainment and also provides the origin of the
phrase made famous by Lewis: "is everybody happy?"
The above review was contributed by: Kathryn Atwood: Click Here To View More Of Kathryn's Reviews:
Kathryn Atwood's poetry, reviews and essays have appeared in numerous online and print journals, including "The Aurora Review,", "Afterimage," "Void Magazine," "Wild Violet," and "PopMatters." When she's not writing or driving her three kids around somewhere, she's usually teaching at a local music studio or givng vocal performances with her husband on the subject of American Song.