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  • My Mother Was Nuts

  • A Memoir
  • Written by: Penny Marshall
  • Narrated by: Penny Marshall
  • Length: 8 hrs and 30 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (78 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Most people know Penny Marshall as the director of Big and A League of Their Own. What they don’t know is her trailblazing career was a happy accident. In this funny and intimate memoir, Penny takes us from the stage of The Jackie Gleason Show in 1955 to Hollywood’s star-studded sets, offering up some hilarious detours along the way.

My Mother Was Nuts is an intimate backstage pass to Penny’s personal life, her breakout role on The Odd Couple, her exploits with Cindy Williams and John Belushi, and her travels across Europe with Art Garfunkel on the back of a motorcycle. We see Penny get married. And divorced. And married again (the second time to Rob Reiner). We meet a young Carrie Fisher, whose close friendship with Penny has spanned decades. And we see Penny at work with Tom Hanks, Mark Wahlberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert De Niro, and Whitney Houston.

Throughout it all, from her childhood spent tap dancing in the Bronx, to her rise as the star of Laverne & Shirley, Penny lived by simple rules: “try hard, help your friends, don’t get too crazy, and have fun.” With humor and heart, My Mother Was Nuts reveals there’s no one else quite like Penny Marshall.

©2012 Penny Marshall (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the critics say

“There's as much practical, hard-won advice here as there is Hollywood gossip, and Marshall's boundless energy and no-nonsense attitude make for a fun read.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Hollywood aficionados will get a kick out of Marshall’s anecdotes about her circle of friends, including Albert Brooks, John Belushi, and Carrie Fisher, all told in a funny, down-to-earth manner.” (Booklist)

“Penny Marshall is a fascinating woman who has lived a life few of us could survive. Did you know she gave me two of the best jobs I’ve ever had? Of course not, because when she talks she is barely comprehensible. Read her memoir and you’ll come to love her as much as I do.” (Tom Hanks)

What listeners say about My Mother Was Nuts

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  • Overall
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penny marshall

penny had an interesting life and love the way she sees it with a sense of humor and acceptance.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Bob
  • 2021-09-17

Thoughtful, Funny, Informative

This book is filled with great stories, some funny, some tragic. Having Penny Marshall narrate is an added bonus! I learned a lot about her amazing life and was most interested to hear her anecdotes about the movies and stars that she came across during her lifetime. Fascinating tidbits about all the people she worked with or loved or hated. A great read!

1 person found this helpful

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That accent !!

Wonderful book, very interesting life and accomplishments. She is so real !!!! And her accent, which has never left her, delighted me all through the book. This woman had balls ! Highly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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Enjoyable listen

I enjoyed this. I had no idea what to expect. It kept me entertained the whole time.

1 person found this helpful

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Penny Marshall what a star!

Loved it! I see why everyone loved Penny.
Very humorous and very enjoyable. Give it a try.

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  • GAD
  • 2022-07-12

Informative

Curious about how Penny Marshall fared after the Laverne and Shirley Sitcom, it is refreshing to hear her story from her own life perspective. this book is a nice, refreshing break from other, heavier listens.

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  • M. S. Cohen
  • 2012-09-21

The audio performance should get an award!

Would you listen to My Mother Was Nuts again? Why?

I'd listen to it over and over. Penny Marshall gives a terrific performance with nuances for off-hand comments like "Huh?" or "You know."
You feel like she's talking just with you, not reading a book.
But the part that touched me so greatly was when she talked about the end of her mother's life. You could hear the pain in her voice. So sweet. So real.

What other book might you compare My Mother Was Nuts to and why?

It's an autobiography like most others. Starts when she's young and moves on from there. But with her reading it, it soars to be much more.

Have you listened to any of Penny Marshall???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Never heard any of her other performances, but I'll definitely look them up to get them.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I listen to the book on my iPhone using the Audible application. I set it for 3X speed because I don't like to wade through books so slowly.
But for this book I lowered the speed. It's a book I wish wouldn't end.

43 people found this helpful

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  • CanadaGrrrl
  • 2012-10-17

Listen up - not to be read!

What did you love best about My Mother Was Nuts?

I loved listening to Penny Marshall for over 8 hours - I wish it could have been longer!

What was one of the most memorable moments of My Mother Was Nuts?

Too many to remember, it is such a great memoir.

Which character – as performed by Penny Marshall – was your favorite?

Her own. She does a good impression of herself!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed more with this book than any other I've listened to. Without a doubt.

Any additional comments?

This is not a book to be read - it MUST be listened to. Penny's voice makes her own life story so much more real & visual.

40 people found this helpful

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  • Kim
  • 2012-10-03

Great Memoir - Penny Marshall is awesome!

Wow - what an amazing lady and an amazing life! Penny Marshall broke boundaries and found success without really knowing what she was doing - her incredible talent and intelligence drove her through it all. She is honest, humble, and above all, hilarious - plus her narration skills are superb (she has the vocabulary of a trucker - not offensive to me at all but you probably don't want your 6 year old to listen with you unless you want them to learn the proper usage of the f-word in all of its glory). I really enjoyed hearing about her antics with her Hollywood pals and the inside info on how movies and television shows are made. I wish all memoirs were like this - Penny should teach a class.

33 people found this helpful

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  • Cynthia
  • 2014-01-13

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Schlemiel! Schlimazel!

Tuesday nights were a really big deal when I was a kid growing up in the Midwest. We just HAD to be home at 7 pm - prime time starts early there - to watch Happy Days on ABC, one of only five channels. The kid that missed the show had to swallow pride and risk ostracism by those in the know to find out what The Fonz was up to. Laverne & Shirley, a spin-off, aired at 7:30 pm. I liked that even better. I can still do the arm and arm "schlemiel, schlimazel, Hasssnpeffer, Incorporated" song and dance.

Penny Marshall (Laverne) went on to produce and direct films, including "A League of their Own" (1992), a favorite of mine. I sometimes wondered how one family produced her and her brother, Garry Marshall, an actor, director, writer, and producer; how she ended up married to Rob Reiner, and then divorced; why she is such famous friends with Hollywood scion Carrie Fisher, a really funny writer who has acted in a film or two . . .

"My Mother was Nuts"(2012) answers these questions, and so many more. It's a fun romp through post WWII New York, and Hollywood from the 1970's to the present. Marshall seems to know everyone, and she likes them. If there's a falling out, she makes the first move to patch things up. She actually got (Paul) Simon & (Art) Garfunkel back on singing terms for a while. The only 'dirt' she dished in this book was on herself.

There is something missing, though: there's a complete lack of introspection about herself, and speculation about why other people do things. I don't know if that is just the way Marshall is, or if that was the way she wrote the memoir. Since a memoir is not an autobiography, that lack of analysis may have been intentional.

This is a new genre for me - I don't think I've ever read or listened to a Hollywood memoir. The closest I've come is Richard Rhodes "Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World" (2011). Lamarr was an actress who happened to invent and patent the technology cell phones rely on today. I got a great Audible deal on ""My Mother was Nuts", and I knew I could return it if I didn't like it, so I gave it a whirl. It was an enjoyable way to make the weekend chores bearable.

As to the narration - well, a Bronx accent can be grating, but there's no one else I would have rather listened to narrate "My Mother was Nuts".

[If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

30 people found this helpful

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  • Dana V.
  • 2012-10-22

Worth getting through to the good stuff!

I was drawn to this book because I was interested in Penny Marshall's take on being a female director, and having a nontraditional, and successful role in Hollywood. I was not looking - or interested - in raunchy details or weird side details about other actors or directors. She was not the pretty girl, and has been incredibly well connected and unapologetic about how she's chosen to live her life. When she talks about this, the book is great and she's enjoyable to listen to. That said:

The first half is about her early life which she doesn't seem to want to talk about - and it comes out in the performance. I wonder whether she was active in writing the book because there are many times she actually runs over sentences, has awkward moments of reading, and generally just seems to be going through the motions of getting the performance done. The writing is pretty awful at times in the beginning and it comes through in the audio performance - especially when there are these long lists of people she's worked with and it just comes across as lame name dropping for the sake of creating interest. It can be a uncomfortable to listen to at times, and I know I was sorely tempted to stop listening.

In the second half or so, when she really gets to talking about her time in Laverne & Shirley and directing, it starts to feel more like it's her story and it's enjoyable. At that point, it's a pleasure to listen to because it's listening/reading about someone with a real passion she's sharing. I wanted more of her talking about the work she is obviously passionate about and interested in sharing, and less of the awkward personal back story.

30 people found this helpful

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  • RiahWillow Daniels
  • 2012-09-23

Laughs, Loves, life and a few expletives

What did you love best about My Mother Was Nuts?

Penny marshals candid way of telling her story of her mark on the world. This is a great "look whack you can do with a life when your are given a ball and run with it" type story. I have always been a fan of Penny's work yet never knew why I was drawn to her, now I know why.... My mother is crazy too and I'm thankful for all I learned through her crazy.

What was one of the most memorable moments of My Mother Was Nuts?

When Penny was recounting John Balushi's death. I remember how the news hit me when I saw it on the evening news, yet I never knew him personally. I can only imagine the loss Penny and all his friends felt with his tragic passing. A brilliant comedic life lost in its prime.

What about Penny Marshall’s performance did you like?

EVERYTHING

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed, cried, contemplated my own life and choices I have made through the years only to come to the end of the book and have the same conclusion Penny did. I love my life so why change it.

Any additional comments?

This book is not only worth the credit but it is even worth paying for if you are out of credits.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Minerva Butler
  • 2013-09-13

Heavy on Name Dropping - Light on Life Reflection

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Someone who wants to know who hangs out with whom in Hollywood would enjoy this book.

What was most disappointing about Penny Marshall’s story?

I purchased this book because I enjoyed her brother's memoir immensely. However, Ms. Marshall spent much time listing off all of the famous people that she knows, especially those who attend her birthday bashes. And the link between the title of the book and her life story was quite weak.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Fewer lists and better life link to the title.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The book had several entertaining parts and I enjoyed learning the backstory of Laverne and Shirley as well as several of the movies that she has directed (e.g. Awakenings filmed in an actual mental hospital).

Any additional comments?

I would not recommend this to friends.

11 people found this helpful

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  • DG Thompson
  • 2012-10-01

Funny and Touching

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, it's overall charm comes from being well written and inexpertly narrated. The choice of Penny Marshall to read her own story was a stroke of brilliance. It comes across as (someone we like to think of as) an old friend revealing stories about themselves we've never heard before. It's very obviously a reading of a book, though somehow transcending into more of a long letter from a favorite friend. It's stiffness is forgotten in the fun of hearing the story.

What was one of the most memorable moments of My Mother Was Nuts?

The most memorable moments are the relationship connections between Penny Marshall and well, . . . everyone. She makes LA, Hollywood and New York sound like one small town filled with interesting people. Interesting not because of what they've starred in but because of who they really are, what they shared with her and what she learned from them.

Which scene was your favorite?

Narration wise, when Penny Marshall reads about her mother's passing. Her voice cracks and you feel her emotion.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

11 people found this helpful

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  • tooonce72
  • 2014-01-19

Memorable Read

So much more enjoyable that I would have ever expected.

At first Penny's talking with the mouth full of marble was annoying. Then her voice broke while talking about her mother and it was read by the perfect person.

What a wonderful life. I felt it was an honest representation without having to go to the dark side. The hoop jumping of the motion picture industry was enlightening.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Amy
  • 2012-10-09

Honest and interesting

Would you consider the audio edition of My Mother Was Nuts to be better than the print version?

Listening to the author read in her own voice was great, but she isn't young Laverne anymore. It took a bit of time to get used to her 'mature' sound. I felt that at moments she was going through the motions of reading the words, but for the most part she delivered her part in an honest, matter of fact way. She never apologizes for the choices she made. She was living her life as we all do...one day at a time.

What was one of the most memorable moments of My Mother Was Nuts?

The opening is pretty funny-getting robbed by ninjas. There are moments that the emotion gets the better of her. It made her very likeable!

Which character – as performed by Penny Marshall – was your favorite?

Herself

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I reached a point that I didn't want to 'put it down' (stop listening).

Any additional comments?

I felt that she did what her mother taught her to do, 'entertain people'.

7 people found this helpful