And you thought your mother was nuts. From hilarious drama to childhood trauma, ‘The Daily Janet’ chronicles author and comedienne Leanna Conley’s journey of being raised by a 1960s fashionista before the Devil had even heard of Prada. Janet is a chain-smoking martini enthusiast who swears like a sailor but dresses like Audrey Hepburn, and her erratic behavior has made for a sometimes stormy, but always loving, mother/daughter dynamic. Be prepared to laugh out loud at Janet’s antics and pearls of wisdom as Leanna hops on the tumultuous ride to adulthood. . .in one of Janet’s Cadillacs, of course.
From the moment I started this biography, I became completely engrossed, I forgot to go to sleep early as I originally planned. Leanna Conley is a natural born storyteller with a flair for the comedic, which I imagined she inherited from her mother, Janet.
Since I’m not one to read a lot of biographies, I had agreed to read this one expecting it to be just another biography with comedy here and there. I didn’t prepare myself for what lay in store. Janet is truly a wild, wise woman that you just can’t get enough of, no matter how you try.
The Daily Janet offers everything a good story requires: pain, drama, comedy and love. She’s a class act with a wild side. I highly recommend this extremely pleasurable read. You won’t be disappointed.
I’ll start off by saying, Mike Phelps is a friend of mine since I interviewed him. You can’t help it. But that doesn’t mean this review will be anything but honest. If I couldn’t give an honest review on the site I created then I would not do the review.
David Janssen wasn’t just a Star. He was human like the rest of us. He had the same problems but at times magnified with different circumstances but the Exact. Same. Problems. It’s just that his problems were free game for the world to see. Just think, you frown in a picture next to your wife or girlfriend and the next thing you know the world hears there is trouble in paradise. You and your girl find out there is a problem in your life months before there is one. Self fulling perhaps? Who knows?
In David Janssen-Our Conversations Volume One-The Early Years: 1965-1972 we discover just how human David Janssen was. The original Fugitive before Harrison Ford knew what a Wookie was and the reason the movie Ford was in was ever even made. But we also discover how super human he was. His long time non-Hollywood friend Michael Phelps gives us an inside look at just how David Janssen handled some of the toughest moments of his life, including his divorce from his first wife, Ellie Janssen. If you don’t know about that particular part of Janssen’s life, you’ll find out why I call Janssen super human.
David Janssen’s success with The Fugitive series and his problems following its success and its ending while still at the top of the ratings are discussed along with relationship problems with Ellie Janssen, Rosemary Forsyth and the woman he missed out on, as well as his love for the children the women brought into his life.
I like that we see David’s side of things, even these many years after Ellie Janssen’s biography David Janssen-My Fugitive told a decidedly different story about her time with David. A biography in which Michael Phelps was involved with but has clearly stated was Ellie’s story, not his. He typed as she dictated with his filling in blanks one moment while dodging flying glass objects another.
Michael Phelps’ back ground as a police officer prior to meeting David Janssen and then in security and as an investigator comes through in his approach to sharing his memories. As a historian I enjoyed the straightforward way the conversations were presented with small snippets of Michael Phelps’ own life interlaced to give a good passage of time and some parallels of the two friends’ lives that I’m not even sure Phelps realizes. This wasn’t just about a man sitting around waiting for his famous friend to call. Mike had his own life and David was interested in that life. Mike cared about David Janssen just as you care about your best friend. The long distance friendship Janssen and Phelps shared proved to me what kind of man Janssen was more than the words spoken revealed. And Mike’s concern for David throughout is obvious. That’s Mike. That’s Mike then, and that’s Mike now.
I enjoyed discovering David Janssen’s opinions about John Wayne, which I could see as being true. The discussions between Phelps and Janssen about Jack Webb of Dragnet fame who was the creator and executive producer of O’Hara: U.S. Treasury, a one season Janssen series. The people David found to be true friends were at times surprising to me. As you read through the conversations David also reveals more about himself than I think Michael Phelps realizes. In a way I think Mike was living a life that David Janssen wanted, but never realized it was what he wanted. David never actually recognized that was part of the thing that made his friendship with Michael Phelps work.
You move through the book at a good pace waiting for that next communication with David Janssen to find out what was going on in all facets of his life. Parts of conversations at times were just like any other friendship in the world in that things were repeated just like you would to your own friend; Greetings, inside jokes and endearments. You find yourself saying the same things with the nuggets of information mixed in. That was part of the editing agreement Michael Phelps had, don’t touch the conversations. Just think, “Hi, Dave.” “How did you know it was me,” Mike said with a laugh through the phone. “I would kill anyone else calling me at 3 AM.” (my paraphrasing of dialogue) That’s Michael Phelps.
As for the writing itself? Chapters are short so you commit to very small amounts of time reading and you know if you start another chapter it won’t be much to jump into as you are about to head out the door or go to bed. David Janssen did have a use of language at times that one might would expect from someone in the middle of situations he found himself in, but that adds to the authenticity of the book. I recommend reading this over the course of days as opposed to in one or two sittings. The reasons being there is a lot of information and the repetitive nature of parts of conversations between friends might lead ones eyes to skip forward. If you do, you might miss little moments that are very telling.
Michael Phelps gives the warts and all. Sure, Janssen was his friend but he gives it all to us. We get to make our own opinions.
If you are wanting a book to learn about the behind the scenes world of Hollywood, how actors had to play the game, how they had to worry about things we never need to and learn about a TV Icon Legend, about how a TV series really is made, then this is the book for you. Gift it if you want to.
Overall, this is a recommendation for any fan of old school real acting TV and Movie legends. This isn’t a name dropping sensationalist book, though names are mentioned. What you get is David Janssen, period.
I am fascinated with strong female characters, real-life or fictitious. So it is no wonder this book caught my attention when it was first published in 2013. Unfortunately with time constraints, it wasn’t until the paperback was released that it found its way into my home. Title: Empress Dowager Cixi: the Concubine who Launched Modern China Author: Jung Chang Publisher: Vintage Books, London (3 July 2014) ISBN-10: 0099532395 ISBN-13: 9780099532392 Website: http://www.jungchang.net/Pages: Paperback, 528 pages Genre: Literary Non-Fiction – History What’s it about? Empress Dowager Cixi was never ‘crowned’ empress. But she was the de facto ruler of China from 1861 to 1908. At the age of 16, Cixi was ‘honoured’ for being selected to be a concubine to the Emperor Xianfeng. At the death of the Emperor, she (then 25 years old) with the official Empress Zhen, “sat behind the throne” of the successor, Cixi’s son, Tongzhi who was then 5 years of age. From that position, literally behind a yellow silk screen, Cixi ruled China. Whilst she has been credited for her efforts bringing China into the modern age, Cixi’s private life remains very much just that – private, partly contributed by the loss of her personal archives during her reign. In contrast, the public life of this formidable woman was subject to a lot conjecture and criticism for she had dared to thwart the traditions of the patriarchal system and perhaps misogynistic culture of the times. And in comparison to the likes of say, Elizabeth I or Josephine Bonarparte or Cleopatra, Cixi’s life has received relatively little attention, and largely demonised. In similar style to her previous bestseller, Wild Swans (1991), Jung Chang has presented the life of Cixi in a matter-of-fact and impassive manner. It would seem there is a concerted effort to be impartial both in language and the events of that era. In this sense, the book allows the readers to come to their own conclusions as to the morality and values of that Chinese era, and in particular, of Cixi, and the different political parties of the time. Factually, there was enough to provide a political context to Cixi’s rule while not inundating the readers with details. In saying this, the simplification of the rich and complex events belie the political and cultural obstacles Cixi must have had to navigate. Note this was a woman who was not ‘educated’ as compared to her male counterparts. Jung’s depiction of Cixi gives a hint of the chameleon – a public persona and a deeply private person, a traditional woman with modern perspectives. It would have been a treat if Jung had canvassed in greater depth the psychological and emotional landscape of this clever woman. I wonder what it was like to live in that era, being within the Imperial Court, and being responsible for China and its progress. A small detail stood out for me – Cixi collaborated/worked closely with Empress Zhen to make the changes required. While astute, decisive, incisive and at times uncompromising, she it would seem did not perceive ‘female competition’. Quite capable of ruthlessness to achieve her ends, Cixi nevertheless sought first to collaborate. Her political astuteness, in maneuvering for powers besetting China, is rather incredible. She was courageous enough to fight and/or retreat. The book highlights the ingenuity, and political and strategic savviness, of Cixi in wrestling and maintaining power for 47 years. As Charles Denby (an American minister to Beijing during her mid-reign) stated:
“At that time, she was universally esteemed by foreigners, and revered by her own people, and was regarded as being one of the greatest characters in history…Under her rule for a quarter of a century China made immense progress.”
This book is worth a read, for it gave great insight to the comings and goings of the intrigue within the Chinese Imperial Court, and the strength and vision of one woman to bring China into the modern age. Recommendation:LWI Rating: Realistic Characterization: 4/5 Made Me Think: 3/5 Overall enjoyment: 3.5/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 3/5 Overall Rating: 3.5/5 Buy it at: