Chuck Barris is a former television show creator and producer, whose credits include The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, The Gong Show, and Treasure Hunt. He is the author of several books, including Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (adapted into a major motion picture) and the New York Times bestselling novel You and Me, Babe. Chuck and his wife, Mary, live in Manhattan.
Rain Pryor was born in the idealistic, free-love 1960s. Her mother was a Jewish go-go dancer who wanted a tribe of rainbow children, and her father was Richard Pryor, perhaps the most compelling and brilliant comedian of his era.
In this intimate, harrowing, and often hilarious memoir, Rain talks about her divided heritage, and about the forces that shaped her wildly schizophrenic childhood. In her father's house, she bonded with Richard's grandmother, Mamma, a one-time whorehouse madam who never tired of reminding Rain that she was black. In her mother's house, and in the home of her Jewish grandparents, Rain was a "mocha-colored Jewish princess," learning how to cook everything from kugel to beef brisket.
It seemed as if Rain was blessed with the best of both worlds, but it didn't quite work out that way. Life at Mom's was unstable in the extreme, while at Richard's place Rain was exposed to sex and drugs before she had even learned to read. "Daddy," she told her father one day, sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner at the advanced age of eight, "the whores need to be paid."
Jokes My Father Never Taught Me is both lovingly told and painfully frank: the story of a girl who grew up adoring her father even as she feared him—and feared for him—as his drug problems grew worse. In 1980 Pryor tried to kill himself by setting himself on fire, then joked that it had been an accident: "No one ever told me you couldn't mix cookies with two types of milk!" In his later years, Pryor succumbed to multiple sclerosis, and Rain watched in tears as her father became a shell of his former self. Once, in an unusually introspective mood, Pryor asked his daughter, "Why do you love me, Rainy, when I can be so mean?"
Jokes My Father Never Taught Me answers that poignant question and many more. It is an unprecedented look at the life of a legend of comedy, told by a daughter who both understood the genius and knew the tortured man within.
My dad, Larry Hagman, portrayed the storied, ruthless oilman J.R. on the TV series Dallas. He was the man everyone loved to hate, but he had a personal reputation for being a nice guy who fully subscribed to his motto: DON’T WORRY! BE HAPPY! FEEL GOOD! Dad had a famous parent, too—Mary Martin, known from many roles on Broadway, most memorably as Peter Pan. Off-stage she was a kind, elegant woman who maintained the down home charm of her Texas roots. Both were performers to the core of their beings, masters at crafting their public images. They were beloved. And their relationship was complex and often fraught.
My father never apologized for anything, even when he was wrong. But in the hours before he died, when I was alone with him in his hospital room, he begged for forgiveness. In his delirium, he could not tell me what troubled him, but somehow I found the words to comfort him. After he died, I was compelled to learn why he felt the need to be forgiven.
As I solved the troubling mystery of why my happy-go-lucky, pot-smoking, LSD-taking Dad had spent his last breaths begging to be forgiven, I also came to know my father and grandmother better than I had known them in life.
The life Candy created for her family—her husband and children Tori and Randy—was fabulous, over-the-top, and often magical. So what if California Christmases don't come with snow? Let's make some on the tennis court! How do we take a cross-country family vacation with a dad who doesn't fly? By private train car, of course (with an extra for the fifty-two pieces of luggage). The kids want to dress up for Halloween? No problem, why not call in Nolan Miller to design their costumes?
Candy had a hand in some of the most beloved television shows of all time (she once stopped production on "Dynasty" because Krystle Carrington's engagement ring was not spectacular enough), has entertained half of Hollywood in epic fashion, and lives an enviable life. But under all the fun and showmanship lies a more interesting character, still wrestling with some of the insecurities of her ingénue self. Oprah threw her into a major panic with a discussion of hoarding. A lifelong humming habit evolved as a unique coping mechanism. And there's nothing like being defined as, "well, you know, complicated" by your daughter on television and in her own book.
Stories from Candyland sparkles with glamour and grand gestures. But it also satisfies with some more intimate Candy concerns: why being a perfect wife and mother was so important to her, how cooking and cleaning can keep the home fires burning, why collections matter, and whether dogs are better judges of people than people are.
Visit Candyland in these pages and get a glimpse of a generous, glittering world revealing many of its surprising and funny secrets for the first time.