|Marshall as Laverne (to Cindy Williams's Shirley)|
Penny Marshall's 2012 memoir My Mother was Nuts tells how she became a TV star, married Rob Reiner, motorcycled across Europe with Art Garfunkel, became a film director....and smoked pot.
After appearing in musical theatre in her youth, Marshall decided to move to Los Angeles with some fellow cast members. She writes:
"On the night before we left, Bill, Randy, and I went to the drive-in and saw The Trip, director Roger Corman's movie abut a TV director who takes LSD and goes on a mind-bending journey. Bill lit up a joint, and I smoked pot for the first time. It didn't even make me hungry."
Marshall says she liked Reiner because he "wore pajamas and didn't do drugs. His wild days were behind him." But after they married, "our house becomes a hangout for comedy's elite," naming Albert Brooks, Jerry Belson, Billy Crystal, Richard Dreyfuss, and Charles Grodin, among others.
"These were the pot-smoking years, and a lot of it was smoked at our house," she writes. "I cleaned the seeds and stems in a shoebox top. It was a skill, and I was good at it." Women weren't invited into the club. Belson would interrupt Brooks's comedy routines to say, "Can we take a break and smoke a joint?" and Brooks would get the munchies so badly he would eat Marshall's daughter's brown bag lunch meant for school the next day.
She mentions smoking cigarettes frequently, a habit she started while still in junior high. While working with Steven Speilberg, "I tried to get a Quaalude in him. They were my drug of choice. I constantly joked about wanting to know what he would be like if he relaxed."
Once, she flushed a bag of heroin down the toilet when her friend John Belushi offered it to her. "I had tried heroin once. It made me carsick," she wrote. "Artie [Garfunkel] didn't like it either, thank God. When others were chipping on the weekends, he way my ally in not doing it, and I will always be grateful to him for giving me the wherewithal to keep saying no. I wish John had done the same."
Marshall became one of the most successful female film directors ever, starting with directing Whoopi Goldberg in Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986), followed by Big with Tom Hanks, and Oliver Sacks's Awakenings with Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro. I thought it was brilliant that for Big she had the actor who played Hanks's younger self act out all the scenes so that Hanks could see what a boy looked like in them; it was also interesting to learn that DeNiro almost played his role.
I particularly enjoyed her description of directing A League of Their Own, the first women's baseball movie. She tells how she cast and re-cast the film, getting Madonna to try out on the baseball field, and standing her ground to keep the ending with the "old women" of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, for whom she says she made the movie. League was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2012. The film celebrated its 25th anniversary on July 1 (with a new Blu-ray edition).
After surviving lung cancer that metastasized to her brain, Marshall gained weight and turned to her friend Carrie Fisher, then a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig. "Thirty years earlier we had dropped acid," she writes. "Now we were microwaving our Jenny meals. What had we become?"
Up next from Marshall: Between the Pipes, the story Manon Rhéaume, the only woman to play for the NHL, and the story of Dennis Rodman, due out in 2018.