Sometime film actor, TV cutup, sitcom writer, and frequent stooge to faded stars, Arnold treats those who like such Tomfoolery to his memoirs.
Hailing from Ottumwa, Iowa, he was abandoned by his mother when he was four. While she advanced to half a dozen other husbands, Dad stuck with the kids. The future comedian sharpened his wit wrestling with pig carcasses and boning hams (naturally) at the local Hormel plant; he grew up—nearly—to become Clown of the Grassroots. Sister Lori grew up entirely to become a jailbird, with multiple convictions for drug trafficking, and her meatpacking brother also acquired some bad habits: booze, badass pals, drugs, skanky women, and, ultimately, cigars. Arnold verbally exposes himself in the accepted style of showbiz confessionals, starting with six pages of blathering “acknowledgements” to everyone he ever met or hopes to work with. He recalls being ill-treated by a babysitting neighbor. He believes himself, despite all appearances, to be Jewish. (It’s no longer a comedic job requirement, Tommy.) The ribaldry, perforce, includes candor regarding his marriage to mercurial quondam star Roseanne. She had, he writes, “something like twenty-seven personalities. Only two of them liked me.” On TV, she spoke of the size of his penis. He thinks she’s nuts, but something they had in common, he notes, was their pants size. (Watch for her return salvos; surely this operetta won’t be over ’til the fat lady sings.) Though broke again after earning major bucks, Tom is happy, he proclaims loudly, with a true love. He addresses this to the child he hopes to have with her. With a text nutritious as a six-pack and a mouthful of Cheez Whiz, readers may be surprised to find that that the practitioner of generally dopey comedy can write frisky humor. Frankly, there’s some fun and entertainment in this performer’s memoir. Go ahead, laugh.
Raucous and full of shtick: a shameless celebration of his celebrity by the Sage of Ottumwa. (16-page b&w photo insert, not seen)