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How I Got to Be Whoever It Is I Am Hardcover – April 9, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1st edition (April 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446519405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446519403
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,898,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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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"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." (Regis Philbin)

"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." (Alan Alda)

"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." (Governor Mario Cuomo)

"Heartwarming, funny, brilliant. Chuck's new book is all of these, and more!" (Henry Schleiff CEO, The Hallmark Channel)

"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. laugh hysterically again. That's Charles." (Mary Steenburgen)

More About 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 seven 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.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. L. James on October 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I had never read a book by Charles Grodin before and am not entirely familiar with his work, but I thought I would try to find out about the actor/commentator/writer by reading this. I read the entire book but by the end found that I was waiting for it to be finished.

Some of the stories were interesting but the overall tone of the book was pretty down. It seems like Mr. Grodin has perhaps been depressed or disillusioned by life and decided to use the book as a venting mechanism for many of the things that have bothered him throughout his life. He "names names" of those who haved wronged him (in his vision) and spends a lot of time focused on the negativity of his past.

The book is better when he writes about the people he has liked, but overall the entire work seems to be more of a product of bruised ego rather than genuine caring. The stories also seem to be randomly placed, and often disconnected, so the reader just has to keep mentally "jumping around."

I am sorry that he has not felt the blessings of his life to be sufficient enough that he can let go of the past and spend his energy on the things that matter, like his work with prisoners. I hope he finds his way to a more centered existence and focuses on things that inspire readers in his future books, rather than self-involved information that only draws readers into his seemingly-unforgiving judgements and sadness.

I wouldn't recommend this book to a general reader.
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Format: Hardcover
I guess I have been in a hole for a long time. I was not very familiar with Charles Grodin but this book introduced me to a very funny talented man. Here is a man with an enormous sense of right and wrong. He does not just talk about it. He believes in doing. He certainly is a man of integrity. If we had more people like him in the world it would make it a better place. His book caused me to look further into who he is and I am delighted by his humor. Try looking at a few u-tubes to see how great he is.I am so very happy that I read his book.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mediaman on October 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Grodin rambles aimlessly in this book of leftover half-stories that either were already told in his previous books or were so insignificant that they didn't make previous cuts. The chapters are incredibly short (just a few paragraphs in some cases) and yet he manages to start one story, then midway through skip 30 years ahead to another story before going back to the original story that you have already forgotten. This is a guy who is supposed to be a good writer?

There are few stories that go beyond just a couple of surface details. He gives little insight into his life or his feelings, other than constantly defending himself as easy to work with (despite everyone else saying he is difficult to work with), being an optimist (yet all he does is complain) or claiming to be a "compassionate conservative" (even though just about every opinion he gives is to the left of liberal).

He really wasn't that successful at too many of his endeavors (talk show host, playwright, 60 Minutes commentator,etc.) yet he sees himself as successful at everything. He barely mentions the movies which are his claim to fame. The book just wanders back and forth between unconnected time periods and never really answers the title claim. The only thing worth printing were the three hand-written notes from Johnny Carson that appear in the book. (Grodin says he has some from Letterman as well but will wait until after he dies to print them--that's the kind of frustrating book it is!)
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Two messages are delivered in this funny and sometimes serious autobiography by Charles Grodin called "How I got To Be Whoever It Is I Am". Starting at his grassroots, he tells of his family's history and then launches into his first success as the 5th grade president, who is promptly impeached because of his incessant penchant to talk in class.

No, he did not come from a wealthy background, but was from humble beginnings, and made it in spite of his stumbling around, in an attempt to find his place in the competitive world of acting in television, movies, and on Broadway. One of the messages he conveys is he's really a nice guy under the facade of being an out-of-step individual who tries to alienate all those who are near and dear to him. He tells of the numerous times he had appeared with Johnny Carson and was always antagonistic, which often rubbed audiences the wrong way. Charles was well understood by the 'master' of late night hosts to be a delightful brand of comedy.

Many times in life we reminisce about the 'do over' if we had the chance. There are occurrences which would have been addressed differently if given more thought. These are the views of Grodin, but the reality is that in real life, he is not the abrasive and caustic-mouthed person he portrays. In this book he makes up for his inadequacy by playing the Monday morning quarterback and describes how he would have proceeded in a different way in many situations.

It isn't very often we have an opportunity to look inside the life of an actor and his personal interactions with directors, actors, and producers in such a Candid Camera close-up. Pleasing to the mind and spirit, Charles Grodin is a mensch (a nice person), in his efforts to support causes he truly believes in.
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