Reviewer Valerie Porter: Valerie is a freelance magazine writer and co-author of 5 books. She has also been a freelance book reviewer for a weekly Los Angeles newspaper and has written her own book blog.
She is an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction.
Author: Cindy Williams with Dave Smitherman
For many fans, the name Cindy Williams is synonymous with Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley, and rightfully so, since these were, and still are, iconic television shows.
But there’s so much more to the actress’s life and career that may not be widely known. Even those who fondly remember her from the classic films American Graffiti and The Conversation will be delighted by the back stories of these and other major projects that have formed the prolific career of Cindy Williams. She shares the stories with an honesty and sense of humor in her book Shirley, I Jest!, whose very befitting subtitle is A Storied Life.
Indeed, the stories flow easily, beginning with her less than perfect childhood. She reveals sensitive early family issues without bitterness or sadness. That’s about all the personal information readers will get a glimpse of, but there’s plenty of material to enjoy. She writes in a way that places readers right in each situation with her.
What make the book the most fun are the numerous “insider” tales about the making of American Graffiti and The Conversation and other classics, as well as her first meetings with director Garry Marshall, and her future co-star Penny Marshall, long before their television sitcom collaborations began. It isn’t until about halfway through the book that the Laverne & Shirley phase begins, but there is no lack of interest until then.
Shirley, I Jest is in many ways a book about “Old Hollywood”, if you can consider the 50s, 60s, and 70s Old Hollywood. It’s a book that readers who lived those years with her will particularly relish. There are tales of encounters with Gene Kelly, Jim Morrison, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Harrison Ford, Little Richard, Ed Begley, Jr., Ron Howard and of course Penny Marshall, to name just a few.
In full disclosure, my partner Kenny and I were casual friends with Cindy Williams for several years, in the 80s and 90s. I knew she was talented and funny and delightful company. But the depths of her gifts and experiences not only as an actress but as a writer were a wonderful surprise to me, and readers are bound to be happily entertained.