An Emmy Award–winning actor recounts his career and how he “went ‘ass backwards’ into just about everything—and what a lucky guy I’ve been.”
Daniels, a character actor best known for his roles on the TV series St. Elsewhere, Knight Rider, and Boy Meets World, looks back on his career in excruciating detail. Throughout the book, the author delivers mild, occasionally amusing backstage anecdotes, the minutiae of decades-past business and political negotiations—Daniels served briefly as the president of the Screen Actors Guild—and biographical data of little interest to anyone but the author’s family in an unwavering, monotonous, on-the-verge-of-droll voice that evokes nothing but a prim self-regard. Readers looking for salacious showbiz dirt will be disappointed: Daniels remembers Jerome Robbins’ brusque directorial style (Daniels was active on Broadway) and Jason Robards Jr.’s habit of disappearing from set to drink—both observations are very old news—and that’s about it. Daniels provided the voice for the talking car in the ludicrous 1980s program Knight Rider, but he recorded his parts separately and barely met notorious co-star David Hasselhoff. The author discusses the trials of being raised by a relentless stage mother and confesses to a drinking-problem period, but he allows only that it further soured his already prickly demeanor, which feels less than revelatory. Compact, with a regal bearing and a Brahmin accent, the Brooklyn native typically played supercilious establishment types, such as St. Elsewhere’s arrogant surgeon Dr. Mark Craig and Boy Meets World’s stern academic mentor George Feeny, and his prickly, acerbic élan added memorable flavor to such classic films as The Graduate and Two for the Road. Sadly, in book form, Daniels fails to similarly engage or amuse.
An unrevealing and inessential showbiz memoir.