Book club is back with ‘The Boys’ of 1960s TV

Ron Howard listens as Clint Howard speaks.
Ron and Clint Howard discussed their memoir, “The Boys,” at the L.A. Times Book Club at L.A. Live’s Rooftop Terrace.
(Varon Panganiban)

Good morning, and welcome to the L.A. Times Book Club newsletter.

Being back at book club this past week felt like an intimate conversation in someone’s living room.

Our guests were familiar old friends, two Burbank kids who grew up on TV right before our eyes on some of the most popular shows of the 1960s and ’70s.


Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard and actor Clint Howard talked about their Oklahoma-born showbiz parents and what it was like starring on “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Gentle Ben” as grade schoolers. They recalled mornings poring over The Times’ Sports pages and bonding over the Dodgers as Ron did dramatic readings of late-inning heroics to kid brother Clint.

Ron Howard, seated and wearing ball cap and glasses, smiles.
Ron Howard recalled his favorite episodes as Opie on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
(Varon Panganiban)

Clint brought along a homemade snow globe inspired by his appearance on the original “Star Trek” series at age 7. And Ron revealed that he often turned to his TV mom, Marion Ross, for advice during his “Happy Days” run.

Clint Howard, in tie and checked jacket, gestures while speaking.
Clint Howard spoke about playing the child-sized alien leader Balok in a 1966 “Star Trek” episode.
(Varon Panganiban)

And there was Ross — Mrs. C. on the show — now 93, sitting in the front row, smiling up at Ron and waving to delighted book clubbers gathered on a rooftop terrace in the shadow of the Staples Center.

Marion Ross sits among an audience.
“Happy Days” actress Marion Ross, in gray mask and white striped jacket, was a surprise guest at the L.A. Times Book Club.
(Varon Panganiban)

After 18 months of Zoom-only events, L.A. Times Book Club readers returned in person Oct. 15 to hear about “The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family” directly from the Howard brothers, now in their 60s.


A photo of two young boys in swim trunks, seated with their legs dangling in a swimming pool.
A photo from “The Boys.” Ron and Clint Howard in the family swimming pool on Cordova Street.
(Courtesy Ron Howard and Clint Howard)

As Clint put it, “Ron and I decided to share our story of growing up as the product of these sophisticated hicks. Just your typical postwar tale of a tight-knit nuclear family whose two kids happened to be on TV all the time.”

Read more about “The Boys” in Michael Ordoña’s recent interview with Ron and Clint Howard.

And don’t miss this beautiful segment the L.A. Times Today team filmed with the Howards while we were setting up for book club night.

Ron and Clint Howard discussed"The Boys" with Times columnist Mary McNamara.
Ron and Clint Howard discussed”The Boys” with Times columnist Mary McNamara.
(Varon Panganiban)

What we’re reading

On Nov. 30 Pulitzer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones will discuss “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story” with Times Executive Editor Kevin Merida.

The 1619 Project builds on Hannah-Jones’ New York Times Magazine project that reframed American history to place slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. The book includes expanded versions of the series’ original essays as well as new fiction, poetry and photography. Get tickets.

Side-by-side photos of a woman, the cover of the book "The 1619 Project" and a man.
Nikole Hannah-Jones will be in conversation with Times Executive Editor Kevin Merida on Nov. 30.
(James Estrin; One World; Kirk McKoy / L.A. Times)

On Dec. 9 bestselling writer Ann Patchett, author of the upcoming collection “These Precious Days” and 2019 novel “The Dutch House,” will be in conversation with columnist Steve Lopez. Sign up for this virtual event on Eventbrite.

A split image of a smiling woman and the cover of a book.
Bestselling author Ann Patchett will discuss “These Precious Days” with Times columnist Steve Lopez on Dec. 9.
(Heidi Ross / Harper)

On Nov. 17, columnist Bill Plaschke discusses his career as a sportswriter and his upcoming book, “Paradise Found: A High School Football Team Rises From the Ashes,” with Times Executive Sports Editor Christian Stone. The 6 p.m. chat is the latest installment of the “Ask a Reporter” series and will livestream on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Sign up on Eventbrite.

Keep reading

Mapping Los Angeles. Jimmy Carter was president when Glen Creason began work as a reference librarian. He describes himself as one of the last “hard copy” librarians, who answered questions by referring to books, and used typed catalog cards and a rotary phone. This month the Central Library’s map librarian retired after 42 years behind the desk. “I feel like I’m having a psychedelic experience,” Creason says.

Japanese breakfast in L.A. “Ever since I traveled to Japan with my family and stayed at hotels and ryokans (inns), I have had a love for Japanese breakfast,” author Naomi Hirahara writes in a new essay. “Served on a tray or in a bento box, the Japanese breakfast usually includes broiled fish with grated daikon, rice, stewed vegetables, salad and sometimes natto… I’m too lazy to recreate it at home, but during the pandemic, I’ve found two places that have replicated my experience in Japan.”

Family cookbook. UC Irvine freshman Sahana Vij has just published “Bake Away,” a new dessert collection with all royalties going to the nonprofit No Kid Hungry, via People magazine.

Care kits. Each fall, WriteGirl provide each of its teen writers with a journal, a writing activity book, a pen and some creative inspiration. The L.A. nonprofit’s fall campaign is underway.

Little stories everywhere. Novelist Aimee Liu writes about why she’s happy to be eavesdropping again.

“On Animals.” Our debut book club author, Susan Orlean, has published a new collection of writing about animals. “Orlean’s deft handling of facts and her lived experience as an animal softy create a pleasing friction,” says reviewer Margaret Wappler.

Explaining Hollywood. “Narrating an audiobook, providing the voiceover for a video game, performing lines as an animated character and making a commercial pitch are markedly different pursuits that demand different skills,” writes Jon Healy. “But one thing that seems common among voice actors in all these fields is a fertile and well-practiced imagination.” Healy shows you how to get a job as a voice actor.

Inside stories. “This Is Ear Hustle” by Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods adds the personal story of a podcast host’s journey to San Quentin prison, via the San Francisco Chronicle.

Gary Paulsen’s “Hatchet” isn’t just required, it’s desired. Teachers and Librarians remember the prolific author of page-turning children’s novels of adventure and survival who died suddenly in New Mexico. Paulson was 82.

Dune” returns. Again. Film critic Justin Chang tackles the latest attempt to wrest Frank Herbert’s 1965 literary colossus to the big screen. The “magisterially brooding” new “Dune,” is in theaters and on HBO Max.

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