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Singing to a Bulldog    by Anson Williams order for
Singing to a Bulldog
by Anson Williams
Order:  USA  Can
Readers Digest, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Anson Williams grew up with a father who blamed his son for all of his own failures in life. When he started to work at the age of fifteen for Leonard's Department Store in Burbank California as a janitor's assistant, his lack of self-confidence (owing to his father's influence) was so great that he expected to fail at this job the way he had failed at everything before. He was surprised when he found a friend and mentor in Willie Turner, his boss. Willie praised the work he was doing and told him that he was sure Anson was going to do something important with his life. Willie became the good father that Anson had never had, and his words of advice and encouragement followed him as he attempted to start a career in show business.

Singing to a Bulldog tells Anson Williams' story of his rise from an insecure fifteen-year-old janitor's assistant to the role that made him famous: Warren 'Potsie' Weber on the series Happy Days, and to his present life as an award-winning television director, writer, producer, and entrepreneur. He begins each chapter with a quote from Willie, who seemed to spend most of their breaks from work giving Anson sage advice about how to lead a good life. The book is told in an engaging and sometimes humorous style. Ironically, Willie was an aging, uneducated African-American man, whose alcoholism had almost destroyed his own life, yet he treated Anson with warmth and caring, encouraging him rather than criticizing. As Anson encounters difficulties, he remembers Willie's words and refuses to take no for an answer.

He realized early on that he needed an agent, but couldn't get an appointment for an interview, so he went to the agency and announced to the secretary that he would just wait until someone had time to talk to him. She wasn't happy about this, and he waited for hours, but finally an agent did speak to him and offered to take him on as a client if he could pass an audition provided to him by the agent. He was supposed to portray a high school football player who dies of a drug overdose. He practiced and practiced before going to the audition, then because of car trouble, he arrived at the audition late, but he did a good job, got the part, and got his agent. After that he was able to audition successfully for more parts and finally won the role of Potsie.

Years ago I was a fan of Happy Days, and I enjoyed reading about the early days of the show and how it was created. I also liked learning about the rest of Anson Williams' career in this entertaining memoir. Anson Williams comes across as a good person who, rather than personally take credit for his success, speaks lovingly about the man who helped him so much when he was young, and admits that the advice he received from that man was crucial to his career.

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