My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As soon as I saw this book was written by Bill Daniels, I knew I had to read it. My introduction to Mr. Daniels was the stereotypical millennial path via Boy Meets World. From there, I fell in love with the man that played Mr. Feeny and set out to watch all of his movies and shows. I fell in love with Bill Daniels all over again when, within seconds of picking up his memoir, I read:
“I wrote this manuscript in longhand on yellow legal pads, so I have to first thank Rachael Lobermann, who spent many hours typing it all up . . . Laurie Horowitz took the typed pages and made them resemble something that looked like a book, with paragraphs and everything.”
This book reads exactly as any longtime fan would expect. Daniels is to the point and matter of fact, leaving little room to doubt or misinterpret his true feelings. My heart broke a little bit when Daniels told the story of his early years in show business. There is bitterness is his voice as he recounts his somewhat abusive childhood at the hands of his mother who lives vicariously through her children’s forced performances on stage, screen, and eventually television. It is a side of Daniels that often comes out in his blustery, non-nonsense characters, but the back story gives context to the man behind the mask.
I cried a little bit (not even kidding) while reading the chapters on Daniels time as Mr. Feeny. That show meant so much to me during my middle school and high school years. I often longed for my own real-life Mr. Feeny but was more than happy to settle for Daniels words of wisdom. To know that the show touched the actors in much the same way was moving.
The real cherry on top was the interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda as an epilogue. I’m a huge fan of Hamilton and Miranda is a huge fan of 1776 so it was a really great intersection for many Bill Daniels fans. It was one of the main reasons why I ran out and immediately recommended this book to another longtime Mr. Feeny fan and Hamilton enthusiast (though I would have recommended it regardless).
Finally, what was even more moving than reading about Daniels’ memories of Broadway, radio, and television, was discovering that he truly is a deeply caring and devoted person. His dedication to his wife and children is so, so beautiful. Bill Daniels memoir presents a man who is genuine which is incredibly difficult to find in this world of false celebrity and reality television stars.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.