Friday Fiction: Celebrities Write for Children

North Shore Books, North Muskegon, MI

Last week, I talked about how celebrities (actors, comedians, politicians, etc.) often try their hand at writing books (last week’s post). You can add the word “author” to the bios of Carrie Fisher, Steve Martin, William Shatner, and Pamela Anderson. Celeb novels range in quality, but I did make a point of saying that Fannie Flagg is a wonderful author and, in my opinion, only a so-so actress. So I guess she at least has found her calling. 

There are plenty of celebrities also writing children’s books!  Here a few I’ve found: 

Julie Andrews – The Broadway and screen star of such beloved tales as The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and Princess Diaries, Julie Andrews has authored children’s books for over thirty-five years, including some co-written with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton. Titles include The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles, the Dumpy the Dump Truck series, and Simeon’s Gift. 

Jamie Lee Curtis – Known for appearances in Halloween, True Lies, and Freaky Friday, she starred in one of my favorite films – A Fish Called Wanda. But she began writing children’s books when she told her own story of adopting a child in Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born. Since then, she has written several others, including Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods that Make My Day and When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old’s Memoir of Her Youth.

Sarah Ferguson – Ah, what’s a duchess to do with her spare time! Apparently, one option is to write children’s books. Thus, Sarah Ferguson, the spunky Duchess of York, has penned Tea for Ruby and the Little Red series. 

Whoopi Goldberg – Comedian, actress, and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg authored Alice back in 1992, an urban retelling of Alice in Wonderland. But she is better known for co-writing the series Sugar Plum Ballerinas with Deborah Underwood. 

Fred Gwynne – Yes, he was Herman Munster. But did you know that he had a role in On the Waterfront? In addition, before his death in 1993, Gwynne wrote and illustrated several children’s books, with wordplay titles such as The King Who Rained, A Chocolate Moose for Dinner, and A Little Pigeon Toad. 

John Lithgow – Known for television roles in Harry and the Hendersons and 3rd Rock from the Sun, Lithgow also launched a children’s music career in 1999. Then he authored several children’s books, including The Remarkable Farkle McBride and Micawber. 

Madonna – If you had told me back in the 1980’s when she was wearing lace bustiers and singing about her sexuality that Madonna would one day write children’s books, I would have called you crazy. But motherhood can alter your priorities. And so Madonna indeed authored the much-touted The English Roses which has spawned a series. 

Henry Winkler – Arthur Fonzarelli is now Author Winkler. Having experienced dyslexia firsthand, he has co-written a series of books with Lin Oliver about a dyslexic adolescent named Hank Zipzer. There are seventeen books in the series now. 

Of the ones listed above, I have only read a couple of Winkler’s Hank Zipzer series and a few from John Lithgow. However, I distinctively remember reading Marsupial Sue by Lithgow to my children when they were younger. 

Do you know of any other celebrities who have penned children’s books? Have you read any of the above? If so, what did you think? Once again, do you have an opinion on actresses, politicians, and other celebs writing books? Do you think it’s a good use of their creativity or a diabolical plot to keep the rest of us from getting published?

Friday Fiction: A Secret to Getting Published

Want to become a best-selling author? I have the secret to unbridled success! Become a celebrity first. 

Of course, celebrities have long been known for publishing memoirs, autobiographies, and tell-all books. But in recent years, a large number of the famed and fortuned has dabbled in the world of fiction – with mixed results. Some of these authors are genuinely creative individuals whose ability to convey a story on the screen translates well to telling a story on the page. Others are less . . . well, gifted, shall we say. 

But when I see the words “New York Times Bestselling Author Nicole Richie” on the cover of a novel, I have to wonder if my efforts at publication should have included being born to a pop singer icon. Nevertheless, here are few authors who have entered the world of fiction: 

Carrie Fisher – Best known as Princess Leia in Star Wars (although my favorite role of hers was Marie in When Harry Met Sally), Carrie has authored several novels including Surrender the Pink, Delusions of Grandma, and Postcards from the Edge. 

Fannie Flagg – In case you’re not old enough to recall, Fannie Flagg was an actress in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Her acting credits include three appearances on The Love Boat as three different characters! But her writing career has overshadowed her acting with books like Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café and Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man. Her most recent release is I Still Dream about You. 

Gene Hackman – This actor’s credits are too numerous to name, although I probably became aware of him when he portrayed Lex Luthor to Christopher Reeve’s Superman. He co-wrote three novels with Daniel Lenihan but has set out on his own for his latest release, Payback at Morning Peak. 

Jimmy Buffett – The singer who has inspired a lot of tequila consumption through his hit, Margaritaville, is also an author of three novels – one co-written with Helen Lansford. The other two are Where is Joe Merchant? and A Salty Piece of Land. 

Kirk Douglas – The unmatchable Kirk Douglas is not only an amazing actor, the original Spartacus, and father to actor Michael Douglas, he is an author as well with three novels to his name: Dance with the Devil, The Gift, and Last Tango in Brooklyn. 

Meg Tilly – Best known for her role in The Big Chill, Meg Tilly was also Sister Agnes in Agnes of God. She still acts from time to time (e.g., Mother in Caprica) but is now the author of Singing Songs, Porcupine, and Gemma. 

Nicole Richie – Yes, this daughter of former Commodore Lionel Richie, then reality TV star (The Simple Life), and BFF to Paris Hilton has penned two novels:  The Truth about Diamonds and Priceless. 

Pamela Anderson Known for being C.J. in Baywatch, Lisa the Tool Girl in Home Improvement, and wife to Tommy Lee and Kid Rock, bombshell Pamela Anderson has written Star and Star Struck. 

Steve Martin – Almost a modern-day Renaissance man, he tells jokes, acts in movies, plays incredible banjo, and writes novels. Formerly a “wild and crazy guy” on SNL, Steve Martin has penned The Pleasure of My Company, Shopgirl, and An Object of Beauty. 

Tyra Banks – Supermodel, talk show host, and America’s Next Top Model producer, Tyra is coming out with her own novel in September titled (of course) Modelland. 

William Shatner – Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek, T.J. Hooker in the series of the same name, Denny Crane in Boston Legal, and many more TV series appearances are in William Shatner’s bio. Beyond those achievements, and his Priceline gig, he has authored over twenty books, including the popular science fiction Tek and Quest for Tomorrow series.  

I haven’t read most of these, so I am by no means recommending that you pick up these novels– except for Fannie Flagg who is wonderful – but I find it interesting that these celebs are channeling their creative juices into writing fiction. So maybe I should rethink my plan and try to get on a reality show! However, I don’t have any crippling addictions (my love of Coca-Cola doesn’t count); I’m not a rich, single gal looking to date 20 men to find a hubby; and I don’t want to race across the world in record time. Oh well. 

Just so you know, I did not include any celebrities whose books listed a second author, although certainly some of the titles above could have been ghost-written. And I plan to cover celebrity children’s book authors another time. If you want to see more information about celebrities who write, check out the following websites: The Millions: Celebrity Book Club, Culture Mob: Celebrity Authors and the Books They Write, and Celebrity Cowboy: 40 Celebrity Book Authors 

Have you read any of these books? How do you feel about celebrities taking up their pen?  Do you feel they have an unfair advantage? Or do they have something unique to offer given their background and creativity? Do you know other celebrities who have written novels? Do you have ones to recommend?