This Is Your Captain Speaking: My Fantastic Voyage Through Hollywood, Faith, & Life, by Gavin MacLeod with Mark Dagostino
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
When I was a boy, I had a great-grandfather in his late 80’s and early 90’s who had lived a very eventful life who loved to regale me with stories of the famous people he knew, even if he was somewhat modest of his own achievements. This book reads like the memoir of that kind of man, someone with ups and downs, someone who certainly has flaws but also a compelling life story to tell, and a great deal of achievements for which the author is very obviously and immensely grateful. On almost every page of this book is full of stories about marriage, family, the details of work as a corporate pitchman and an actor who really loves live performances in theater. The stories are honest and generally positive, and full of humor and good nature.
In terms of its order and structure, this book is pretty straightforwardly chronological, with a lot of digressions and flashbacks, but the overall narrative is a classic one: starting in media res at the beginning of the author’s acting career, then going back to family background and early life forward through a long and illustrious career, ending at a natural break in the author’s career, in declining health due to aging, retiring from acting in his 80’s, and focusing on family and his religious beliefs. The chapters are short and easy to read. For the excellence in style, a great deal of credit must be given to the co-writer, who appears to have done an excellent task in taking the author’s stories and put them in a reader-friendly fashion. Given the occasionally tough content this book contains, that task was done well and was certainly a more difficult one than one would gather from the friendly cover picture of the author in his Love-Boat days.
There are a few notable and serious lessons that one can gain from this book. For one, the author perhaps unwittingly discusses some elements of bad family background. With alcoholism rampant on both sides of the family, it is not a surprise that he too suffered from it, to such an extent that it was a major contributor to his first divorce. With his father dying young, when the author was only 13, and with the father having been one of those emotionally remote types that believes expression of emotion is weakness, it is little surprise that this book is full of the author seeking fatherly praise from older role models and authority figures, and being insecure and feeding off of the applause of live theater acting. Additionally, this book contains some heavy commentary about death, depression, and the struggles of keeping a marriage together in Hollywood. A great deal of the last part of the book is focused on the author’s evangelical work, especially after remarrying his second wife after their split due to his selfishness and communication problems. Issues of divine providence are present to a great degree here as well, and it is lovely to read about how the author influenced culture by serving as an ambassador for the pleasure cruise industry, something I enjoy when I have the opportunity to do so, and pleasant company. All in all, whether one wants a Hollywood memoir that tells almost all, or a book that looks at the faith of someone connected to popular culture , this makes for an excellent read.
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