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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (April 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425232506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425232507
  • ASIN: B003WUYRWW
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #529,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Beaver, an actor, playwright and film historian, collects a series of riveting, heartfelt e-mails chronicling the courageous cancer battle of his beloved wife, Cecily, from her diagnosis of lung cancer to her death in little over a year. Unafraid to examine their life together and his acting career as a performer on two popular TV dramas, the role of Ellsworth on Deadwood and Bobby Singer on Supernatural, he kept family and friends informed with his nightly online messages of Cecily's deteriorating status and the bittersweet childhood of their autistic daughter, Maddie. The revealing e-mails depict the somber travail of Beaver on the horrific death watch of his wife, and detail the roller-coaster ride of emotion from hoping for a speedy halt to the disease's onslaught to experiencing the dark abyss of loss. After the death of his father during this time, he writes: This year of writing has freed me from the shackles I don't know I could have borne otherwise. While this cancer memoir often chills the reader to the core with pain and frustration, it offers countless reasons to cheer Beaver as a remarkable man, a loving husband and a responsible single parent. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review




More About the Author

James Norman "Jim" Beaver, Jr. (born August 12, 1950) is an American stage, film, and television actor, playwright, screenwriter, and film historian. He is perhaps most familiar to worldwide audiences as the gruff but tenderhearted prospector Ellsworth on the HBO Western drama series Deadwood, a starring role which brought him acclaim and a Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination for Ensemble Acting after three decades of supporting work in films and TV. He most recently played Bobby Singer in the CW television series Supernatural and Sheriff Shelby Parlow in the series Justified. His memoir Life's That Way was published in April 2009.

Beaver was born in Laramie, Wyoming, the son of Dorothy Adell (née Crawford) and James Norman Beaver, Sr. (1924-2004), a minister. His father was of French and English heritage (the family name was originally de Beauvoir, and Beaver is a distant cousin of author and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir and Pennsylvania governor General James A. Beaver), and his mother is Scots-German-Cherokee and a descendant of senator, governor, and three-time U.S. Attorney General John J. Crittenden. Although his parents' families had both been long in Texas, Beaver was born in Laramie while his father was doing graduate work in accounting at the University of Wyoming. Returning to Texas, Beaver Sr. worked as an accountant and as a minister for the Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas, Crowley, Texas, Dallas, Texas and Grapevine, Texas. For most of Jim Beaver's youth, his family lived in Irving, Texas, even while his father preached in surrounding communities. He and his three younger sisters (Denise, Renée, and Teddlie) all attended Irving High School (where he was a classmate of ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard), but he transferred in his senior year to Fort Worth Christian Academy, from which he graduated in 1968. He also took courses at Fort Worth Christian College. Despite having appeared in some elementary-school plays, he showed no particular interest in an acting career, but immersed himself in film history and expressed a desire for a career as a writer, publishing a few short stories in his high school anthology.

Less than two months after his graduation from high school, Beaver followed several of his close friends into the United States Marine Corps. Following basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Beaver was trained there as a microwave radio relay technician. He served at the Marine Corps Base Twentynine Palms and at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton before being transferred to the 1st Marine Division near Da Nang, South Vietnam in 1970. He served as a radio operator at an outlying detachment of the 1st Marine Regiment, then as supply chief for the division communications company. He returned to the U.S. in 1971 and was discharged as Corporal (E-4), though he remained active in the Marine Reserve until 1976.

Upon his release from active duty in 1971, he returned to Irving, Texas, and worked briefly for Frito-Lay as a corn-chip dough mixer. He entered what is now Oklahoma Christian University, where he became interested in theatre. He made his true theatrical debut in a small part in The Miracle Worker. The following year, he transferred to Central State University (now known as the University of Central Oklahoma). He performed in numerous plays in college and supported himself as a cabdriver, a movie projectionist, a tennis-club maintenance man, and an amusement-park stuntman at Frontier City. He also worked as a newscaster and hosted jazz and classical music programs on radio station KCSC. During his college days, he also began to write, completing several plays and also his first book, on actor John Garfield, while still a student. Beaver graduated with a degree in Oral Communications in 1975.[5] He briefly pursued graduate studies, but soon returned to Irving, Texas.

Jim Beaver made his professional stage debut in October 1972, while still a college student, in Rain, by W. Somerset Maugham at the Oklahoma Theatre Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. After returning to Texas, he did a great deal of local theatre in the Dallas area, supporting himself as a film cleaner at a 16 mm film rental firm and as a stagehand for the Dallas Ballet. He joined the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas in 1976, performing in numerous productions. In 1979, he was commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville to write the first of three plays for that company (Spades, Sidekick, and Semper Fi), and was twice a finalist in the theatre's national Great American Play Contest (for Once Upon a Single Bound and Verdigris). Along with plays, he continued writing for film journals and for several years was a columnist, critic, and feature writer for the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures magazine Films in Review.

Moving to New York City in 1979, Beaver worked steadily onstage in stock and on tour, simultaneously writing plays and researching a biography of actor George Reeves (a project which he still pursues between acting jobs). He appeared in starring roles in such plays as The Hasty Heart and The Rainmaker in Birmingham, Alabama and The Lark in Manchester, New Hampshire, and toured the country as Macduff in Macbeth and in The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia. During this period, he ghostwrote the book Movie Blockbusters for critic Steven Scheuer.

In 1983, he moved to Los Angeles, California to continue research on his biography of George Reeves. He worked for a year as the film archivist for the Variety Arts Center. Following a reading of his play Verdigris, he was asked to join the prestigious Theatre West company in Hollywood, where he continues as an actor and playwright to this day. Verdigris was produced to very good reviews in 1985 and Beaver was signed by the powerful Triad Artists agency. He immediately began to work writing episodes of various television series, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents (he received a 1987 CableACE Award nomination for his very first TV script, for this show), Tour of Duty, and Vietnam War Story. He also worked occasionally in small roles in films and television.

The 1988 Writers Guild of America strike fundamentally altered the freelance television writing market, and Beaver's TV writing career came to an abrupt halt. However, a chance meeting led to his being cast as the best friend of star Bruce Willis in Norman Jewison's drama about Vietnam veterans, In Country, and his acting career suddenly took up the slack where his TV writing career had faltered. (Beaver was the only actual Vietnam veteran among the principal cast of In Country.)

Subsequently he has appeared in many popular films, including Sister Act, Sliver, Bad Girls, Adaptation., Magnolia, and The Life of David Gale. He starred in the TV series Thunder Alley as the comic sidekick to Ed Asner, and as homicide cop Earl Gaddis on Reasonable Doubts. He was also French Stewart's sullen boss Happy Doug on the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun.

In 2002, Beaver was cast as one of the stars of the ensemble Western drama Deadwood in the role of Whitney Ellsworth, a goldminer whom he often described as "Gabby Hayes with Tourette syndrome". Ellsworth went from being a filth-covered reprobate to marrying the richest woman in town and becoming a beloved and stalwart figure in the community. (Originally Ellsworth did not have a first name, but when it became necessary to provide one, Beaver requested he be named Whitney Ellsworth, after the producer of George Reeves's Adventures of Superman.) He continued his long research for the Reeves biography, and in 2005 served as the historical/biographical consultant on the theatrical feature film about Reeves's death, Hollywoodland.

Beaver in 2006 joined the cast of the HBO drama John from Cincinnati while simultaneously playing the recurring roles of Bobby Singer on Supernatural and Carter Reese on another HBO drama Big Love. He then took on the role of Sheriff Charlie Mills in the CBS drama Harper's Island, which aired from April 9, 2009 to July 11, 2009.

His memoir of the year following his wife's 2003 diagnosis of lung cancer, entitled Life's That Way, was purchased in a preemptive bid by Putnam/Penguin publishers in the fall of 2007. Prior to publication in April, 2009, it was chosen for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program for 2009.

Beaver studied acting with Clyde Ventura and Academy Award-winning actor Maximilian Schell.

During college, Beaver married a fellow student, Debbie Young, in August 1973, but the couple separated four months later (though divorce did not occur until 1976). For several years after his move to California, Beaver shared a house with character actor Hank Worden, who had been a friend since Beaver's childhood. In 1989, following a four-year courtship, Beaver married actress/casting director Cecily Adams, daughter of Get Smart star Don Adams. Their daughter Madeline was born in 2001. Cecily Adams died of lung cancer March 3, 2004.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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The book is very well written.
Leah Gerstner
"Life's That Way" is a declaration of love, to his wife Cecily, daughter Madeline Rose, his family and a multitude of friends.
L.G.
Thank you Jim Beaver for sharing this with us!
Sonia M

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Bardicvoice on April 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was edited from an email journal actor Jim Beaver (Deadwood, Supernatural, Harper's Island) wrote each night for a year in 2003-4 to keep family and friends informed about his wife Cecily's desperate fight against cancer, and after her loss, about how he and his very young daughter Maddie continued on with their lives. There is grief here, together with brutally raw and honest pain, anger, fear, helplessness, guilt, and despair - but there is also joy, laughter, and hope, and most of all, there is love: Jim's love for his wife and daughter, their love for him, and the amazing outpouring of love and help from family, friends, and even strangers who responded to Cecily's struggle and its impact on others.

For anyone dealing with love and loss, this book has hope to offer and lessons in life to teach, all without a word of preaching. If you've loved and lost someone - parent, spouse, child, friend, lover - you've felt what's in this book, and reading it might help bring you healing, if only by letting you know that you are not alone in what and how you feel and by giving you the means and words to talk about it. I'm watching my mother being stolen by Alzheimer's, and this book speaks to me even in the midst of ongoing loss. Read it, and take comfort.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Theresa Anderson on April 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A sweet, heartbreaking, inspiring, and yes funny, slice of life is recorded in the emails of Jim Beaver's Life's That Way. Early in the book, I realized that my preconceptions of the title and the subject were in error. Life's That Way isn't the passive equivalent of "life is like that" and there is nothing we can do. Life's That Way is pointing in a direction and making a conscious decision to not give up, to be anything but passive, and to run or walk and sometimes crawl toward Life again.

For anyone that has experienced an intimate loss, which is most of us, this will be an emotional reading. But the reward is Jim's honesty and bravery in reporting his feelings, feelings that sometimes as survivors we don't even want to admit having, but ultimately connect us through being human. The book is a lovely tribute to the tenacity of spirit of Cecily, Jim, and their daughter Madeline Rose.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By storyaddict69 on April 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Life's That Way: A Memoir

I thought this book would be sad,but i wasn't expecting the moving love story. It was the most beautifully written,love letter to his dear Pie. It was sad,but uplifting in that no matter how much we grief we still LOVE. It was a true tribute not only to her,but to their love.I know through this book his daughter will gain the greatest insight into what a beautiful woman his dear Pie really was.

It was also very heartfelt in how he dealt with not only the cancer but in being a single parent. I know any parent reading this book will understand the great love and fear he had for his daughter and in his ability to be the parent she deserved.

This book should be in everyone's home!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. A. Wells on April 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Most people know Jim Beaver from his tv appearances on "Deadwood: The Complete Seasons 1-3", as the beloved Whitney Ellsworth, or as Bobby Singer, the surrogate father figure to the brothers Winchester on Supernatural - The Complete Third Season-he's also guest starred on series ranging from "the X Files" to "3rd Rock From the Sun" to "The Young and the Restless", and is currently starring in the new CBS murder mystery "Harper's Island".

What most people don't know is that a few short years ago, Mr Beaver and his wife, actress and casting director Cecily Adams went from the highest of highs- successfully having a baby after difficult fertility treatments- to the lowest of lows- learning that same little girl was autistic and then the crushing news of Cecily's diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer.

Mr Beaver created a real time e-mail journal, astoundingly honest and straightforward and at times painful in it's intimacy yet always with a lining of humor to soften the blows that just kept coming to this small loving family. These emails were originally for friends and family to follow Cecily's treatment, but as often happens with inspiring emails, people forwarded them on. And on, and on. Over 4,000 people ended up reading the regular updates on the news going on with Jim, Cecily and her cancer battle, and their daughter Maddie's struggle and ultimate success over her autism diagnosis.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By IMTheresa on April 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm normally a pretty cold-hearted person, but this beautiful and honest look inside Jim Beaver's life pushed me to tears; both of sadness and joy. Anyone who has been touched by cancer or some other tragedy will relate to a lot of things in this book - the fear, the courage, the determination, the joy, and the heartbreak.

I was so struck by how honest Jim was with his feelings and how beautifully written these notes to family and friends were. I felt like I knew the people he wrote about because he welcomed the readers into his circle. And what a circle! Hollywood is often portrayed as a cold place, but Jim was shown another side to it once Cecily was diagnosed.

Do yourself a favor and read this book. The complex feelings surrounding the events of that year are easy to read in that everything flows so well, but at the same time, it's one of the hardest things you'll ever peruse. I was a fan of Jim's and Cecily's before the book and now I feel almost like a part of the family.
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