When I was a little girl, I loved watching the Andy Griffith Show. The loveable cast of characters delivered a weekly dose of homespun humor and insight to audiences for eight years. Andy always offered sage advice, Barney’s antics made me giggle, Aunt Bee’s home cooking and lovingkindness reminded me of my grandma, and Opie was just plain cute with his red hair and freckles. Then there was Gentle Ben about the Florida Everglades adventures of game warden, Tom Wedloe, his wife Ellen, their son Mark, and Mark’s tame bear, Ben. I can still hear Mark’s little voice calling out to his big buddy.
In The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family, I delighted in the behind-the-scenes lives of Ron and Clint Howard. The two share their unusual family story of navigating and surviving life in Hollywood as sibling child actors. It’s candid, heartwarming, witty, sometimes painful, and altogether nostalgic.
Born in the 1950s to actors Rance Howard and Jean Speegle, the two were groomed for big and small screens as soon as they could walk. Although they were friendly competitors, they were always brothers first. As the years went by, their paths forked, Ron’s along the straight and narrow, while Clint’s was much bumpier and fraught with poor choices and substance abuse.
I supplemented the book with the audio version and listening to them alternately share their stories was better. Some transitions between their narratives were awkward and many of the anecdotes were repetitive, but the writing was solid, and the narration was superb.
Although Ron’s star has risen a little higher, he garnered far more than his share of attention in the book. He came across as arrogant and less likeable than his brother, who candidly shared his heartbreaking struggles with drugs and alcohol. All-in-all, The Boys is an entertaining trip down memory lane. 4 stars.
Publication Date: October 2021
Read-Alikes: My Days by Marion Ross, Forever Young by Hayley Mills, Andy and Don by Daniel De Vise