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How I Got This Way Hardcover – November 15, 2011
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Others have come and gone, but the breezy Philbin is still here. What you see on TV is what you get in this book. Fans will love it. (Kirkus Reviews)
Essential for all popular collections. (Library Journal)
From the Back Cover
Sure, he’s an excitable guy.
Sure, he loves to complain.
But Regis Philbin loves life . . . and with the wildly unpredictable one he’s led so far, who wouldn’t? After five decades in show business—and nearly 17,000 unforgettable hours on television—he has a lifetime’s worth of stories to share.
In this entertaining memoir, the irrepressible Reege—consummate talk-show host, man-about-town, loving husband, father, and yes, obsessive sports fan—looks back at his years in show business. How I Got This Way is filled with stories of lessons learned—and elbows rubbed—with extraordinary, and often unsuspecting, teachers: David Letterman; Donald Trump; George Clooney; Howard Stern; Jack Nicholson; legendary Notre Dame coaches Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, and Lou Holtz; and, of course, longtime cohosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Kelly “Pippa” Ripa; as well as his own lovely wife, Joy—to name just a few.
Whether he’s revealing what really drove him “bonkers” on the set of Seinfeld, how he survived the first known bomb scare on live TV, what Jack Nicholson said about his beautiful leading ladies during their guys’ night out together, or poignant memories of his last moments with his idol and dear friend, Jack Paar, Regis packs every page with his signature heart, wit, dynamic energy, and gratitude for everything life has brought him.
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For those of you who are Regis fans, I suggest this book is an excellent way to ease yourself away from any withdrawal symptoms! It's fun to read and insightful as well. The chapter devoted to an astrologist was superfluous as anyone could have predicted failure for anyone following the multi-talented Steve Allen. I do now, however, understand why he checks his astrology predictions!
Regis' homage to Dean Martin is touching as he remains an unabashed fan of Dino. Joey Bishop, deservedly, doesn't fare so well though Regis is far kinder to that explosive sourpuss than most anyone else would be considering the way Bishop treated him. You'll also realize what a sweet guy Don Rickles is!
As other reviewers noted, there's something off in reading Philbin versus listening to him on television. It really hit me when I read the chapter about George Clooney. In it, Philbin writes about visiting the actor's villa on Lake Como, Italy, about the fine wines and the great conversation they shared, how Philbin worried he bored Clooney but later learned from a mutual friend that Clooney regarded Philbin's visit fondly. And that's pretty much it, other than that George is a pretty swell-looking fellow, which I already knew.
Reading this, I realized what was off. Philbin telling a story on television makes you feel like you are there with him. It's a gift he has. But it doesn't carry over in print, where Philbin's chatty ebullience is replaced by often leaden prose. As a result, in "How I Got This Way," Philbin comes off as bragging about his exclusive access to a world I'll never know. Of course he is, but that's easier to ignore when the guy is telling you about it on screen, face-to-face as it were, with his friendly smile and big hand gestures.
"How I Got This Way" is organized into thirty chapters, each focusing on a person or people, usually a celebrity, who inspired or affected Philbin in some way. A select few actually make for good reading. Joey Bishop was the host of a talk show in the 1960s where Philbin worked as a second banana, and proved a difficult colleague at times. Philbin recounts this difficulty in amusing, amiable style. Jack Paar, a more recognized TV talk-show host of the 1950s and 1960s, had a friendly mentoring relationship with Philbin which positively impacted Philbin's career. Philbin writes about Paar with real warmth and humor.
You wish this carried over to the rest of the text. More often, though, like with Clooney, the purpose of the chapter seems more like chest-pounding, in an unctuous, "look-who-I-know" sort of way. He takes in a Los Angeles Lakers game with Jack Nicholson or spends a few minutes talking baseball in the stands with Joe DiMaggio. One chapter, on former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, overflows with such hero worship you'd think he was writing about Buddha or Christ. If you finish the book knowing one thing, it's what college Philbin went to.
The book's weakest affectation is his closing thoughts on each person, "What I Took Away From It All," which offers anodyne comments around the idea of appreciating the good in others and so on in the form of "life lessons." It all reads like logrolling, because that's pretty much what it is, and very shallow to boot.
In sum, "How I Got This Way" is a disappointing ego trip disguised as a memoir, just good enough in places to make you wish the guy had really tried.
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