alongside some of the biggest names and egos in the business; his breakthrough into film and eventually to television with the hit shows I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas , and the backstage conflict and plotting the public never saw; the many ways his life changed as the world wondered "Who Shot J.R.?"; and finally, his more recent health struggle and highly publicized liver transplant operation.
What makes Larry's book so unique, and such a tremendously enjoyable read, are the many true tall tales he shares throughout, stories that are by turns humorous, moving, strange, and astonishing. These incredible reminiscences and revelations include:
- when Larry attended a Woodstock, Vermont boarding school as a teen, where he managed to break the "three biggies" prohibiting smoking, drinking, and sex - and accidentally set fire to the boys' dorm.
- how his father, as many Texan patriarchs were prone to do at the time, took him to Mexico to lose his virginity; Larry instead simply paid off the chosen prostitute to tell everyone what a powerful and virile young man he was.
- descriptions of his alcohol binges which started at a young age, when at one point he got so sick that his mother kicked him out of the house.
- a raucous road trip when, desperate for work, he drove a theatrical crew from New York to Florida, his passengers including a bevy of chorus girls, three sniping Pekingese, and a woman with a close relationship with her Great Dane.
- his memorable London stage debut - working in a small part in a production of South Pacific starring his mother - when his anxiousness to introduce his mother led to a particularly embarrassing stage entrance.
- enlisting in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and serving as military entertainment director for the United Kingdom - and dating a young actress named Joan Collins before falling in love with Maj.
- co-starring with George C. Scott on Broadway and seeing firsthand the actor's infamous tirades, including dangling a terrified co-star by his heels over a parapet.
- appearing in his first movie, Fail Safe starring Henry Fonda, partying it up, experimenting with marijuana, acid, and peyote.
- behind-the-set battles on the set of I Dream of Jeannie, as Larry pushed for it to be the great comedy he thought it could be, while wrestling for creative control with a belligerent director.
- inadvertently becoming addicted, along with his wife, to weight-loss pills, leading to a complete physical and emotional breakdown on the Jeannie set.
- his "Mad Monk of Malibu" escapades, including leading flag-waving parades dressed in a caftan, grocery shopping in a chicken suit, and refusing to speak on Sundays for 25 years (but offering to listen to anyone who wanted to unburden themselves to him).
- the many hilarious pranks Larry played on costars, friends, and neighbors (including blasting "Penguin" sounds on his stereo while his irate neighbor Burgess Meredith was hosting a party).
- how he transformed a secondary part on a new nighttime soap into one of the most popular characters in TV history, and eventually had to respond to the notoriety of being J.R. (i.e. having old ladies hit him over the head for being such a louse, and even having the Queen Mother demand he reveal who shot him).
- the miracle of having his life saved by an unnamed donor, and the profound new insights about life and death, and about our shared humanity, that the experience generated for him.
Like a juicy episode of Dallas, HELLO, DARLIN', with its outrageous episodes and incredible developments, is a guilty pleasure of a celebrity memoir that's just impossible to put down.
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