How I Got to Be Whoever it is I Am

How I Got to Be Whoever it is I Am

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by Charles Grodin, Charles GRODIN
     
 

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In his candid and engaging new book HOW I GOT TO BE WHOEVER IT IS I AM, successful actor, author, and activist, Charles Grodin, looks back at the major events and private moments that have shaped his life. And, since Grodin is one of the best storytellers around, he can't help but entertain while offering insight gained from a wealth of experience.

The

Overview

In his candid and engaging new book HOW I GOT TO BE WHOEVER IT IS I AM, successful actor, author, and activist, Charles Grodin, looks back at the major events and private moments that have shaped his life. And, since Grodin is one of the best storytellers around, he can't help but entertain while offering insight gained from a wealth of experience.

The combination of being impeached as class president by his fifth grade teacher (and then winning many school elections thereafter) with being thrown out of Hebrew School for asking too many questions (only to find a much better teacher as a result) informed Grodin's view of himself and made him adept at dealing with rejection—an important skill for an actor. Grodin's success in plays in high school and adventures in college theater led him to a career in acting, studying with the great teachers like Uta Hagen and Lee Strasberg.

Grodin shares behind-the-scenes tales of working on plays like Same Time Next Year and movies like The Heartbreak Kid and Midnight Run—even how close he came to playing the lead in The Graduate. His stories feature the many actors, directors, writers, and producers, with whom he's worked, such as Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Johnny Carson, Orson Welles, Warren Beatty, and other colorful characters.

Grodin's greatest work isn't limited to stage and screen, however. He has been an award winning talk show host and commentator on Sixty Minutes II, and he reveals insights about the political and personal side of journalism and some of the larger-than-life characters he's interviewed.

Still, it is the personal aspects of Grodin's life that are truly revealing and funny. He shares intimate anecdotes of humorous dating experiences during the carefree 70s along with stories of what it was like to be a young actor then with friends and colleagues like Robert Redford, Gene Wilder, and Dustin Hoffman.

But it is Grodin's tales of the lives he's helped save with his relentless advocacy work that make you realize what a great guy Charles Grodin really is. We are lucky that the nice guy his friends call, "Chuck" brings us along to share a little of his journey of how he got to be who he really is!

The author is donating 100 percent of his royalties from sales of this book to Mentoring USA, a New York City based nonprofit that forges powerful, transformative connections for young people through the advocacy and involvement of mentors.

Editorial Reviews

Mary Steenburgen
"Reading Charles Grodin's book is like sitting in the makeup trailer with him (as I was privileged to do on two films.) You laugh hysterically, you say, 'Huh? Where does he come up with this stuff?' and you shake your head in wonder at the uniqueness of his brilliant mind. And, you are moved by his commitment to giving a voice to the voiceless in our society. Then...you laugh hysterically again. That's Charles."
CEO, The Hallmark Channel - Henry Schleiff
"Heartwarming, funny, brilliant. Chuck's new book is all of these, and more!"
Regis Philbin
"I love this book and I'll tell you why. I've known Chuck Grodin for many years now and between you and me, I've often wondered how exactly he became whoever he is. Finally, he reveals everything and he turns out to be a regular guy. In fact, he's a great guy who quietly does good things for a lot of people and we're all better off for it. Oh yeah, he happens to be a great actor too."
Governor Mario Cuomo
"Millions of people know Chuck Grodin as a longtime star of stage, screen television, and radio. Now they will learn that he not only is devastatingly funny, but passionately humane and refreshingly candid as well."
Alan Alda
"When Chuck Grodin plays a character in a movie, no matter how funny that character might be, Chuck is relentlessly honest, detailed and probing. That's how he is in this charming, thoughtful book, which examines what may be his funniest and most interesting character: the one called Chuck Grodin."
One has difficulty deciding what shaped Charles Grodin's personality most: Was it his impeachment as fifth grade class president or perhaps his expulsion from Hebrew school for asking too many pesky questions? Whatever the case, the actor/curmudgeon/comedian/author defies easy explanation. In How I Got to Be Whoever It Is I Am, Grodin himself takes a stab at the truth, deciphering himself by piling up memorable story after story. Appearing in his anecdotes are fellow celebrities including Robert De Niro, Johnny Carson, Orson Welles, and Dustin Hoffman. A colorful, cantankerous memoir.
Publishers Weekly

This memoir by actor Grodin (It Would Be So Nice if You Weren't Here) begins pleasingly with recollections of his mid-century Pittsburgh childhood. Grodin has a clipped and straightforward style that's so stripped of artifice it initially comes off as dust-dry wit; if only that were the case. The book's loose autobiographical framework quickly becomes little more than an excuse for a tired assemblage of would-be thoughtful musings and score settling. Although he claims, when speaking about a TV executive who was once rude to him, "I try not to take these things personally," it's all too clear that he does. Whether it's critiquing a speech teacher from college, a director he didn't care for or even dredging up a decades-old negative review, there is rarely a slight that the author is not willing to try and address in these pages. A deadpan marvel as an actor, Grodin the writer is, with few exceptions, humorless. (Apr.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Like his radio commentaries for CBS News, this memoir from actor-director-writer-activist Grodin (I Like It Better When You're Funny, 2002, etc.) offers kvetching in lieu of insight..The author has plenty of material: getting hired and fired twice by Candid Camera; his longtime stint as a faux-malcontented guest for Johnny Carson; his frequent film and stage work (Midnight Run, The Heartbreak Kid, Rosemary's Baby, etc.); his gigs as a commentator on 60 Minutes II and as a cable-TV talk-show host. Unfortunately, heartfelt reminiscences of such past and present friends as Herb Gardner, Peter Falk, Ellen Burstyn and Elaine May are undercut by Grodin's tiresome testimonials to his own acting skill, intelligence and humanitarianism. From grade school to today, he cites a single cause for his clashes with teachers, directors and TV executives: "doing something that no one else was doing…asking questions." When not relating incidents in his life, Grodin inveighs against such petty annoyances as Hollywood producers, Manhattan co-op boards, the urban legend that he turned down The Graduate, even a basketball coach at his son's school. He frequently sounds like Andy Rooney–lite: "I honestly don't look down on how anyone dresses, as long as they're properly covered." Chapters run about as long as Grodin's broadcast musings and are equally colloquial in tone. In substance he ranges from superficial to maddeningly enigmatic—e.g., calling acting coach Lee Strasberg and Woody Allen, without elaboration, "the two most socially uncomfortable people I've ever met." .Grodin's considerable talent is dwarfed here by his self-regard.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446519403
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
04/09/2009
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are saying about this

Alan Alda
When Chuck Grodin plays a character in a movie, no matter how funny that character might be, Chuck is relentlessly honest, detailed and probing. That's how he is in this charming, thoughtful book, which examines what may be his funniest and most interesting character: the one called Chuck Grodin.
Mary Steenburgen
Reading Charles Grodin's book is like sitting in the makeup trailer with him (as I was privileged to do on two films.) You laugh hysterically, you say, 'Huh? Where does he come up with this stuff?' and you shake your head in wonder at the uniqueness of his brilliant mind. And, you are moved by his commitment to giving a voice to the voiceless in our society. Then...you laugh hysterically again. That's Charles.
Regis Philbin
I love this book and I'll tell you why. I've known Chuck Grodin for many years now and between you and me, I've often wondered how exactly he became whoever he is. Finally, he reveals everything and he turns out to be a regular guy. In fact, he's a great guy who quietly does good things for a lot of people and we're all better off for it. Oh yeah, he happens to be a great actor too.
Mario Cuomo
Millions of people know Chuck Grodin as a longtime star of stage, screen television, and radio. Now they will learn that he not only is devastatingly funny, but passionately humane and refreshingly candid as well.

Meet the Author

Charles Grodin is a recipient of the William Kuntsler Award for Racial Justice and has been honored by Habitat for Humanity for his humanitarian efforts on behalf of the homeless. He is best known for his starring roles in The Heartbreak Kid, Midnight Run and the Beethoven movies, among dozens of others. He has written six books including the bestseller It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here. Charles Grodin was a commentator for 60 Minutes II and is currently a commentator for CBS News. He also writes a weekly op-ed column for the New York Daily News website.

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How I Got to Be Whoever it is I Am 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Smilingsally More than 1 year ago
This book demonstrates the dry wit of its author. If you "get" Charles Grodin, you'll enjoy this look at his experiences. Once I began reading, I had a hard time putting it down as his anecdotes are interesting. Written in first-person narrative, Grodin comes across as an honest man as he tells of his own shortcomings and forgives most offensives directed toward him. However, he is human, and after being treated rudely, he cites his successes. Rather than filling in details, he sometimes writes in snippets. Since he's usually verbose, I count this as a positive.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
I like Charles Grodin, but have never read any of his other books before "How I Got to Be Whoever It Is I Am". I feel after reading this book I got know a little bit about the man. This book is a light humorous read that shows the reader that Mr. Grodin is a normal down to earth person who deals with life just like you and I. I found that his writing is easily understandable and enjoyable. You get to be with him and learn what life was like on a movie or television show set. You also get to know what his childhood was like - a naïve young boy that he was. At the end of this book, you will get to know how the producer, writer, actor, television personality became to be who he is.