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Eighty Is Not Enough - One Actor's Journey Through American Entertainment by Dick Van Patten Books in Review
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Eighty Is Not Enough - One Actor's Journey Through American Entertainment
by Dick Van Patten
Phoenix Books
ISBN 978-1-60747-700-6
Published November 2009 - Hardcover - 272 pages - $22.95

It's amazing what a mama's ideals and determination can do.  Dick Van Patten's mom is deserving of the title "Stage Mom", in the nicest possible way.  As a way out of the Depression, or at least a way to get by, Mama Van Patten put her young infant son in front of the camera to first become a child model, then a stage actor.  By the age of seven, Van Patten was on Broadway with Melvyn Douglas.  This is the delightful reminiscing of a young boy discovering his love of theatre and of acting and performing, and of his family (sister Joyce is also an actor but her childhood experiences differ from Dick's), and their trials and tribulations in Queens, New York and his subsequent move to Hollywood.  It was during the Depression and around the time of the second World War that Dick grew up, and his boyhood reflects people and places around at this time.  Some of the people he knew and/or worked with as a youngster includes Sidney Lumet, Frederic March, Jimmy Durante (a friend of his grandfather's), Ethel Barrymore, Lou Costello, Tallulah Bankhead, Kirk Douglas, James Dean, Farrah Fawcett, Henry Fonda, Burt Lancaster, Clint Eastwood, Michael Jackson, Mel Brooks, and many many more.  He also talks lovingly about meeting his wife-to-be (they've been married for fifty-five years) Pat Poole and about his own immediate family (three sons and a nephew), and of his entrance to television in 1949.  (Television was still fairly new and certainly there weren't any "sitcoms" yet.)  And naturally, he talks about Eight Is Enough, the memorable family sitcom back when there was good, clean fun on TV.  He also talks about his beloved three sons and their lives.  I love that Dick Van Patten loved animals from the get-go and that he was involved in horse racing (gambling problems aside) — we're two for two Mr. Van Patten!  I also loved the layout of this book; wide margins so no struggling to read along the gutter!
Conclusion - A nostalgic and moving look at one man's journey (from the age of three) into acting and his career in entertainment, the friends he made, and how things have changed in his 70-plus years in the business.

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