Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Singing to a Bulldog: Life Lessons a Fellow Janitor Taught Me: My Journey from Happy Days to Hollywood and Beyond by Anson Williams

Growing up in 1950s California, young Anson William Heimlich showed very little promise. Clumsy, unsure of himself, and made to feel like a failure by his disappointed artist of a dad, Anson started working odd jobs as a teenager to help support his family. His boss at one of these jobs, an aging black janitor named Willie, unexpectedly became a mentor—and the lessons he taught young Anson proved to be invaluable throughout his subsequent career as an actor, director, and entrepreneur.

In Singing to a Bulldog, Anson Williams (as he came to be known) relates both these lessons and the never-before-revealed stories of the many seminal TV series he has worked on through his 40 years in Hollywood, including:
• being directed by Steven Spielberg in his first job as an “Equity” actor
• pitching Garry Marshall on the idea of adding a band to Happy Days
• getting kidnapped by the daughter of the president of the United States
• mentoring Shailene Woodley on the set of The Secret Life of the American Teenager
• and many more 

This entertaining and inspirational memoir has a cross-generational and broad appeal, combining all the fun of a celebrity memoir with the profound impact of a motivational bestseller. 

I had two on-screen loves growing up.  The first, Shaun Cassidy.  The second, Anson Williams.  So, I feel absolutely no shame in the fact that I snatched this book from the hands of another reviewer.  It's mine.  That's that.

The same year I was born, Happy Days debuted.  Most of you will know Anson from the character 'Potsie'.  I wasn't a Potsie fan though.  I was, and still am, an Anson fan.  He can act, he can sing and most recently I found out that he can write as well. The thing that's always drawn me to him is his glowing spirit.  He's one of those people that you can just look at and see that they're kind and good.  It vibrates from his spirit outward and you can see it on his face.  Though his range of talent includes comedy, what pulled me in was the genuineness of him.

If you're picking up this book because you're an Anson or Happy Days fan, you won't be disappointed.  There are some really interesting facts inside that I didn't know.  We get a glimpse of behind-the-scenes action and get Anson's view of lots of people.  I've always been a Garry Marshall fan and it was really fun to get to see him as Anson did.  Anson doesn't have a bad word to say about anyone.  This isn't some juicy tell-all book.  This is his experience and his perceptions and they're true to the person I've always thought him to be.

The writing is surprisingly well done.  I was so entertained I didn't want to put it down.  I'm sure it was easier because it's mostly his own recollections, but I'd love to see him branch off and write some fiction.  Take note, Anson!!!  Each paragraph enthralled me.  I laughed, I frowned.  The entire book kept me on an emotional roller coaster and at the same time, my brain was taking off in a thousand directions.  You're not bogged down with a lot of unnecessary detail, but at the same time, each scene is painted so vividly that you can't help but feel that you're right there.  

I picked up this book because I'm an Anson fan, but I found so much more inside.  This is one of the most inspirational books I've read in years.  You see, this isn't just about Anson's journey through fame.  It's Anson's journey through life and the most important lessons he's been taught.  The purpose of this book isn't to just tell you what he's done and how he's done it.  It's to inspire you to take his lessons into your own life and climb your own mountain.  I'm definitely a 'live every day to the fullest' sort of person, but even I want to take flight and follow my passions even more strongly after reading this.  Whatever greatness you have in you can be fulfilled and some of the truths in this book can help you get there.  

Anson did not let me down.  I found the genuinely kind spirit I've come to expect from him as well as hours of entertainment and a lifetime of lessons.  I tell you, this is one man I'd love to have dinner with!  This book is just the thing for media fans, Anson fans, those looking to break into the industry, and everyone who has a life to live.  No matter your station in life, you can identify with this book and you'll walk away wiser.  

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Shawn

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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