The Importance of Being Ernie: From My Three Sons to Mad Men, a Hollywood Survivor Tells All

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Overview

"I SPENT MY ENTIRE LIFE PLAYING NERDS. . ."?Barry Livingston

A true Hollywood survivor, Barry Livingston is one of the few child stars who turned early success into a lifelong career. As "Ernie" on the 1960s sit-com My Three Sons?which also featured his real-life brother Stanley as "Chip"?Barry become instantly recognizable for his horn-rimmed glasses and goofy charm. Five decades later, after working on TV shows like Mad Men and Desperate Housewives, and in feature films like Zodiac and The Social Network, Barry...

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Overview

"I SPENT MY ENTIRE LIFE PLAYING NERDS. . ."—Barry Livingston

A true Hollywood survivor, Barry Livingston is one of the few child stars who turned early success into a lifelong career. As "Ernie" on the 1960s sit-com My Three Sons—which also featured his real-life brother Stanley as "Chip"—Barry become instantly recognizable for his horn-rimmed glasses and goofy charm. Five decades later, after working on TV shows like Mad Men and Desperate Housewives, and in feature films like Zodiac and The Social Network, Barry Livingston is one actor who knows The Importance of Being Ernie. . .

In this fascinating and funny memoir, Barry reveals his most unforgettable anecdotes: Working on set with Fred McMurray, Ozzie and Harriet, Lucille Ball and Dick Van Dyke. Riding a limousine with Elvis Presley. Trying to upstage Ron "Opie" Howard. Even shooting a Superbowl beer commercial with Brad Pitt. At first, Barry's lazy eye and horn-rimmed glasses nearly derailed his career, getting him kicked off his first major film starring Paul Newman. Eventually, his "nerdy" look became his biggest asset, landing Barry a recurring role on Ozzie & Harriet and a regular part on My Three Sons. Fifty years later, Barry is still going strong—from the stage and small screen to to featured film roles opposite Adam Sandler and Robert Downey, Jr.. Like most Hollywood actors, Barry experienced some incredible highs and lows along the way, but he never gave up. "I've been around half a century," he affirms. "And I'm not going away." This is how one child star beat the odds and survived the dark side of the Hollywood dream factory—with charm, wit, determination. . .and big horn-rimmed glasses. This is The Importance of Being Ernie.

Barry Livingston has been a professional actor on stage and screen for more than fifty years. Best known for his role as "Ernie" on the long-running TV program, My Three Sons, Livingston continues to appear regularly in feature films and television shows. He is married with two children, and lives in Los Angeles.

Praise For The Importance Of Being Ernie

"This wryly told saga of a child star who miraculously avoided the crash-and-burn fate of so many of the once-famous. . . an engaging tale of the unusual life of a humorous, modest, and observant man. Barry Livingston delivers a frank and funny tale of TV, movies, and family life." —Brent Maddock, co-author of Tremors and Short Circuit

"For a child star, he's almost normal. This poor kid had to sit on William Frawley's lap; we're lucky he's not on a roof with a rifle. . . Barry is one of those rare child stars who grew up to become an accomplished adult actor. Having logged fifty years in show business, working with everyone from Lucille Ball and Jack Benny to Brad Pitt and Robert Downey, Jr., he's got a great story to tell." —Paul Jackson, Producer Charmed and Sliders.

"I have known Barry Livingston since he was nine years old. He always made me laugh. Now he's kept me awake reading his wonderful autobiography. There's a lot of talent in those size eight shoes." —Gene Reynolds, director of TV's M.A.S.H.and Promised Land

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806535098
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Pages: 262
  • Sales rank: 194,431
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.98 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 26, 2012

    Cannot recommend... :(

    First off, I'm a HUGE fan of My Three Sons, so I was thrilled when I discovered this book. However, after beginning reading this book, I was not so impressed. Profanity and vulgarity scream from the pages, and only about 1/3 of the book refers to My Three Sons- the rest is absolute garbage. After you get past the My Three Sons parts, Barry turns the book into a "tell all" and starts talking about sex and drugs..... Really?!? Yes, really! He must feel that he has to bear his soul... but not to me, I prefer to think of Barry as a nice human being as "Ernie" on My Three Sons and not a sex-crazed addict. I'm sorry I ever read any of it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Well worth the read!

    Like most memoirs of growing up in Hollywood, The Importance of Being Ernie begins with the early years, before stardom came calling. We meet the Livingstons, a father who never quite lived up to his parents' ideals of success, a mother who had started her career as a fan dancer, and a couple of boisterous boys. Life was fairly typical for this family living in Hollywood, California, albeit typical for those living at the lower end of the financial spectrum. Barry Livingston, best known to millions as spunky Ernie Douglas, "the one with the big glasses," began his acting career quite by accident. Hanging out at the local swimming pool, a reporter asked Barry, his brother Stanley and some friends to ride their tricycles across the bottom of the pool for an article he was working on. The photo caught the attention of a producer for Lassie, who needed a stunt double for Timmy. Stanley got the job and made his debut in a drowning scene. The next step on the road to stardom for Stanley was signing up with the Screen Actors Guild and little Barry was dragged along to the meeting. Learning that anybody could sign up, Barry's mother had him sign up too - he was on his way to becoming an actor. Barry and Stanley went to dozens of auditions, where they would join other young hopefuls in a crowded room to wait, wait, wait, then be called in for an audition that might be as simple as reading one line of a commercial. After a few commercials for the boys, Stanley began getting roles in movies. Barry's first big break came at the tender age of four when he made his movie debut in Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! It was also the first role from which Barry was fired - for an eye astigmatism; enter the large, horn-rimmed glasses that became part of his signature look. Barry's mother continued to send her son out for auditions and he soon started landing small parts in other movies, commercials and eventually, as a regular on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. This show in turn helped land him the role he is most known for, Ernie Douglas in My Three Sons. When My Three Sons was canceled in 1972, Barry made the decision to continue his acting career. In this book, we see the ups and downs of a child star trying to remain in front of the camera. The author is very honest about the times when job offers were few, his days of drug use, his entrance into the world of dinner theater and even his exploits with women (which are pretty tame compared to many other stars). Always respectful of the famous who are profiled in this memoir, Livingston does relate some very funny and interesting stories. We read about Paul Newman's attempt to get four-year-old Barry to focus his eyes on a television, the nice, but very reserved Fred MacMurray, the ever gruff William Frawley (Fred Mertz from I Love Lucy,) as well as many others. Perhaps the funniest story in the book deals with a poisoned pastry prop - I'm sure it wasn't funny at the time, but Livingston is able to recount the event with obvious humor these many years later. Kudos to Mr. Livingston for writing a memoir with wit, charm, and honesty - it was a lot of fun to relive those long-ago days of sitcom television with somebody who was there. Quill says: A refreshing, upbeat Hollywood memoir where we meet an actor who has overcome the odds and continues to work, five decades after beginning his career as a cute little kid with big glasses. Well worth the read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2013

    I started reading this book, and could NOT put it down! I actual

    I started reading this book, and could NOT put it down! I actually LAUGHED OUT LOUD almost every other page! He is a good writer, very witty, and a good storyteller! I haven't enjoyed a book this much in I don't know when! He is a really cool guy, you would never know it based on his character, but I have always thought he was a cutie, big glasses, buck teeth and all!

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  • Posted December 31, 2011

    Funny Read

    This guy is hilarious. As he takes you through the life of a Hollywood child star you begin to wonder how he made it out at all. He takes a humous look at his life and how Hollywood shaped his life but did not take his life away as it did others. If you watched his shows, you must read his book

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  • Posted November 28, 2011

    ¿A Sweet Trip Back to Bryant Park¿and Beyond¿

    Are you a child of the fifties? Do you remember ¿My Three Sons¿ ¿the popular sitcom of the fifties, sixties and beyond? What teenage girl didn¿t tune in every week to gaze longingly, wishing Robbie or Chip lived next door? (Sorry Barry, Ernie was a bit too young for me¿but we loved you just the same!) You will walk down memory lane with Barry Livingston, the talented actor (and real-life Brother to ¿Chip¿--Stanley Livingston) who portrayed the youngest of the hunky Douglas household. You will learn behind the scenes stories about the ¿My Three Sons¿ cast, that you never knew. Barry will take you on a personal journey through his childhood adventures and his acting debut and adult history. You¿ll chuckle with the regaling of some of his experiences, both on and off the set and give you the ¿inside skinny¿ on some well-known actors and actresses. I can¿t decide which remembrance is my favorite; ¿Meeting Elvis¿ or ¿Hitching a ride with Myrna Loy¿. Both are priceless. Barry proves that a child star can redefine himself and succeed. As you will discover, his talents go way beyond acting. Barry has also included a treasure trove of photos, which I enjoyed immensely and believe you will as well. Thank-you Barry, for the sweet memories of yesteryear. You will never be forgotten, for somewhere inside that manly exterior, is ¿Everyone¿s Little Brother¿ , complete with overbite, horn-rimmed glasses and mischief in his eye just waiting to re-emerge. Here¿s hoping a cast (or what is left of the original one) reunion and perhaps a movie is in the offing. We need to remind ourselves of the innocence of those decades and perhaps, just for a while¿smile. I send best wishes for continued success.
    Nancy Narma

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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