Penny Marshall: Memoir “My Mother Was Nuts”

When I first heard the title of the new book, My Mother Was Nuts, by actor/director Penny Marshall, I wondered, naturally, if her mom was actually “nuts” as in “crazy”—I mean “crazy” as in “mentally ill”—as opposed to “crazy” as in off-the-wall “looney”—“looney” as in crazily silly, that is, as opposed to…

How imprecise, confusing, weird, and inappropriate our language can be sometimes.

Well, I found my answer in an interview she recently gave for USA Today in which Marshall is asked, “After reading this memoir, I think the title should be I Was Nuts, by Penny Marshall. Agree?” She replies, “Yeah, I’m nuts, too, but it came from Mother. She ran through life. She was, like, on speed. She was crazy, but she was funny.”

Or did I?

Like many memoirs these days, Marshall’s apparently is filled with material about unstable relationships, drug use, mood issues, and such. Also, just a few years ago she was diagnosed with both lung cancer and a brain tumor—and she’s survived.

Another relevant question from the above interview: “Do you still have your depressed moods?” The answer: “I’m not so depressed now. I’m jet-lagged. I fall asleep. I have to be woken up for dinner. I’m still not a morning person. But I don’t take any anti-depressants anymore. Not that I’m a perky person, but I’m still alive.”

Not surprisingly, close friend Carrie Fisher has this to say about Marshall’s book: “If I hadn’t known Penny for the past 35 years, reading this book would make me want to. Also, I’m so glad she wrote it because it helps me remember things I forgot, which is a lot.”

And, here’s Tom Hanks: “Penny Marshall is a fascinating woman who has lived a life few of us could survive. Did you know she gave me two of the best jobs I’ve ever had? Of course not, because when she talks she is barely comprehensible. Read her memoir and you’ll come to love her as much as I do.”

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