Jimmie "JJ" Walker~~4 1/2 and 5 Star Reviews

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Dyn‑O‑Mite! Good Times, Bad Times--Our Times
By Jimmie "J.J" Walker and Sal Manna
Da Capo Press Hardcover

Memoirs tend to be delightful reminisces of days gone by. Dyn‑O‑Mite! by Jimmie Walker and Sal Manna is an exception to the rule. Jimmie gives his background, rise to fame, and successes he has achieved through the years by recanting all the wonderful things that have made his life a pleasure, both in the entertainment world and personally. In the middle of the book, his political posture emerges and what he feels needs to be done to get America back on track.

Interestingly, he has had the opportunity to help struggling comedians achieve their fame by hiring them to work for him when he was at the top of his game--folks like David Letterman, Jay Leno, and David Brenner, to name a few. Walker was an ingenue when black comedians were a novelty in the entertainment world. He struggled to make a name for himself beyond $25.00 per night gigs. What he acknowledges is the helping hand given to him by white entertainers that far exceeded what a Bronx street person could ever imagine. Hard to comprehend is the fact that during this era in which he was rising, there were many super stars emerging.

Walker does not gloss over his early years and does not name people just for the sake of impression. There was a method to his zany early years. He learned his craft, studied hard, created files of jokes, practiced delivery, and, above all, discovered that he could not do it alone. He opened his heart and his home to writers so there could be an interchange of ideas as to what was funny. This book is a lesson in creativity!

What is interesting is Jimmy Walker in not afraid to expose who he really is and where his family came from. He went back through time and researched his family's history so that he could talk about his heritage. He has developed an outstanding philosophy--to reach out to others and lend a hand so they might have the opportunities he has had. Clearly, he tells it like it is. He does not speak kindly of some of the talk show hosts who are not willing to open their doors or stages to newcomers.

Best known for his role in Good Times, he exposes some on‑set tensions between actors that belied the close‑knit family America watched every week. Little ever leaks out about what influences a show when it is from the actor and not the writers. Very fascinating are behind the scenes interchanges with writers, actors and directors including how he coined the phrase "Dyn‑O‑Mite!"

This is a fun read, a book, which you will remember, and one that might make you stop and pause for a moment as you ponder some of his pithy sayings.

Clark Isaacs

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