Tag: writer

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs

February 28th, 2017 — 4:49pm

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs

As is often the case, 30-year-old Jeff Hobbs had drifted apart from his college roommate when he learned that Robert Peace had tragically been killed. (No spoiler here as the title suggested it all). They had occasionally been in contact in the seven or eight years since they graduated from Yale. Hobbs was a budding writer with a novel under his belt. It must have been a combination of his knowing that his old roommate’s life was a story worth telling and his own grieving process that made him embark upon this project.

Once Hobbs decided to write a full book about Rob’s life, he spent about three and a half years talking to Rob’s family, especially Jackie, his mother, close friends, classmates and even some drug dealers. Hobbs basically reconstructed Rob’s life with a vivid description of events and circumstances including meaningful conversations that Rob had with various people in his life. The reader gets an insight into this young man’s intelligence and his feelings about other people. The story gives us a painting of how Rob grew up and how hard his mother worked to support him and motivate him. She worked numerous hours while also caring for her own sick mother. Rob’s close relationship with his father was very important to him. He visited his father in prison frequently for many years until his father died in prison while Rob was in college. Rob also worked even as a teenager, studying legal books to try to help his father appeal his conviction for murder for which he may have been wrongly convicted.

The reader understands Rob as a poor, very bright African-American young man who learned to navigate the streets of his New Jersey neighborhood Orange near Newark, as well as a Catholic High School and then Yale We appreciate how Rob handled the drug environment where he grew up and the mostly marijuana use that he saw at college and even became a trafficker in it. We viewed Rob at times as a scientist who studied molecular biology as a student and a researcher. We viewed him as an outstanding water polo player in high school and college and even after college, we see him struggling to find himself and plan for a possible future career at the same time that he was supporting himself by selling marijuana. He was a sensitive, empathic friend to many who was always ready to be very supportive in any way that he could.

The reader has to ask the question, did Rob’s life have to end the way that it did? It wasn’t just bad luck. There obviously were things that he could not overcome. Since this has become a popular book, it will be read by many young people including some poor bright kids like Rob, probably many African-American young men. Most will probably ask this same question, did his life have to end the way that it did? At one point while in college, he was called on the carpet by the school dean for selling marijuana. He could have been expelled but he was given a slap on the wrist and told not to do it again. We know that you can’t force people to enter therapy but I can’t help wondering if Rob had ever found his way into psychotherapy and had a meaningful relationship with a therapist, maybe he could have made the connections that might have derailed him from the bad decisions and indecision that occurred in the last year of his life.

This man obviously impacted many men and women as a teacher, coach and friend. In that way, he made a positive difference in people’s lives. This well-written book will also allow his life story to continue to influence others so the short life of Robert Peace won’t be so short after all.

To obtain this book from Amazon, please click here

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My Happy Days in Hollywood: A Memoir by Garry Marshall

June 14th, 2012 — 10:32pm

My Happy Days in Hollywood : A Memoir by Garry Marshall ( 2012)

You will definitely like this book if you have been a fan of Garry Marshall and appreciate all the work that he has done in movies and television. If you read his earlier book, Wake Me When It’s Funny: How to Break Into Show Business and Stay There (1997) you will find this current book a partial restatement of his accomplishments plus his newest work, as well as his more philosophical look at life, now that he is on the other side of 75. His orientation and values towards show business originates at the knee of his mother who ran a local dancing school and had once been a dancer herself. As a youngster he had the ability to make people laugh and his parents appreciate and encouraged this talent. He was born in the Bronx and attended DeWitt High School. He then went to Northwestern University, which is known for it’s journalism studies where Marshall proved to be talented sports writer. After graduation he found out that he could make a living writing jokes for comedians. He started supplying funny lines for Phil Foster and Joey Bishop. This led him to become a writer for The Tonight Show which in the late 50’s and early 60’s starred Jack Paar. He branched out to writing for The Lucy Show and Lucille Ball, Make Room for Daddy with Danny Thomas and The Dick Van Dyke Show. By this time he was living in Hollywood working with co-writer Jerry Belson. They created the hit TV show, The Odd Couple based on Neil Simon’s play and then, on his own, Marshall created what are probably his two biggest TV shows, Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. The latter starred Marshall’s sister Penny Marshall who has remained close to him throughout both their careers.

Marshall’s instinct for comedy was obviously the gateway for his success but his ability to choose characters and stars for his shows allowed him to move from writer to producer. In fact he produced most of his successful TV shows and would call upon people he knew to star, write and direct his many programs. There is no doubt that his personality, likeableness and his ability to relate to the talented people with whom he worked contributed much to his success. This was also true as he tried his hand at directing movies. After several moderate successes in film starting off with the The Flamingo Kid, he hit it big with Julia Roberts and Pretty Women. He went on to do many more successful films such as Valentines Day and Princess Diaries. An example of his loyalty to friends is the fact that  actor Hector Elizondo whom he met playing basketball became a close friend and has appeared in every movie Marshall has directed. Marshall himself has appeared in substantial roles in movies and in some recurring characters on television.

He has been married since 1963 to his wife Betty. Although some of his movie directing took him out of town for long periods of time, he did everything he could to work near his family and to spend time with  his children while they were growing up. The book is not a literary classic but it comes across as a sincere inside story by a talented man with a great sense of humor who continues to do great work in movies and television.

In order to appreciate the great breadth of Garry Marshall’s work much of which are discussed in this book, I reproduced his credits as listed in Wikipedia

Directing credits

Television credits as writer or producer

Acting credits


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