(Ed Begley Jr. Courtesy of Russell Baer)
Palm Springs, CA
Ed Begley Jr. is most known for his acting career in film, television, and stage. He has been a prominent figure in the entertainment industry for several decades. Some of his notable roles include appearances in “This Is Spinal Tap,” “My Three Sons,” and “Best in Show, ” to starring in “St. Elsewhere,” where he played Dr. Victor Ehrlich from 1982 to 1988. The role earned him six consecutive Primetime Emmy Award nominations and a Golden Globe Award nomination. Most recently, the successful actor played Dr. Linkletter in the popular primetime CBS Sitcom, “Young Sheldon.”
Since 1970, Begley has also been an environmentalist. The popular tv show “The Simpsons,” once did a spoof on Begley’s environmental activism where Begley’s solar-powered car stalls out on train tracks, but is saved when the train is revealed to be an “Ed Begley Solar-Powered Train”
Now on Saturday, November 18th from 2pm-4pm at Just Fabulous in the Uptown Design District, Ed Begley Jr. will be signing his new tell-all memoir released on October 4, 2023 titled, “To the Temple of Tranquility…And Step On It!”.
(Book Cover Courtesy of Hachette Books)
I recently got to talk with Ed Begley Jr. about his Hollywood career, environmental activism, and the launch of his new memoir. Here is the interview:
Thanks for talking with the Palm Springs Tribune about your new memoir. How is the book tour going?
Ed Begley Jr.: t’s been going very well. I’ve been to New Jersey, New York where I did CBS Morning News, Portland Oregon where I did Powell’s City of Books, a prestigious book store there, did Barnes and Noble in Los Angeles, lots of podcasts, and up and coming interviews. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. It’s fun to read from the book and fun to meet people. The whole process has been joyous and I cant wait to meet people in Palm Springs at Just Fabulous this month.
What prompted you to write, To the Temple of Tranquility…And Step On It!?
Ed Begley Jr.: It started innocently enough with my daughter who was 22 at the time, now 24. She said, “Dad, I have my smart phone here, there is an audio recording feature and I’m going to try to capture your entire 56 years in show biz.”
My daughter was 22 and has a life, so Eric I thought this is too much fun, I need to write this down myself, take some notes, then give it to her or a ghost writer so I sat down at the keyboard. The keyboard became like a ouija board that actually worked. It drew me down to the basement of my mind and conjured stories like when I was invited to go to Spahn ranch in Chatsworth Hills to smoke a joint with a hippie friend and Charles Manson was there. I recognized he and several others a year later when they were apprehended to be charged with murder. When I saw the pictures, I was like, those are the same people I smoked a joint with!
Another story I remembered was being invited to have dinner by singer songwriter friend, Harry Nilsson. He said, “come join me for some dinner with friends.” His friends turned out to be John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
What are some issues you touch upon in your memoir that public might not have known about you yet?
Ed Begley Jr.: I certainly struggled with drugs and alcohol in the 70’s. I used to have a quart of vodka nearly every day and operated a vehicle under those conditions. I used to go to Two Bunch Palms in the desert in the early 70’s and used to drink water and grapefruit juice from the grapefruit trees for 5 days to detox.
I’d be back in Los Angeles eating at a vegetarian restaurant, The Old World, having vegetarian food and drinking six drinks. I wised up in 1979 and been sober ever since.
In your memoir, you mentioned you have Parkinson’s, how are you doing with it now?
Ed Begley Jr.: Doing very well with Parkinson’s. I’m doing what the doctors and neurologists tell me to do. I take a certain type of dopamine. For extra credit I’m listening to my wife who found great alternative medications.
These are also what I take:
- NAD by intravenous which is a 2-3 hour process. It’s very powerful for people who have neurological damage.
- Hyperbaric chamber
- Stem Cells. I go to Tijuana at Stem Cells of America facility to get the treatment.
Do you know Michael J. Fox? I know he has been in a long battle with Parkinson’s.
Ed Begley Jr.: I want to reach out to Michael J Fox. I am going to give that wonderful man a call now that I am public about it.
What other celebrities are mentioned in your memoir?
I am friends for years with Dabney Coleman I have good stories on him as well as on Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson who guided me as a young actor, and many more.
What sparked your interest in environmental issues and influence your decision to become an environmental activist?
Ed Begley Jr.: There was some negative and positive influences that sparked my interest. The negative was living in smoggy LA. I grew up in 50’s and 60’s in San Fernando Valley. The smog seared your lungs. It hurt your lungs just sitting on a bench. When I heardin the goal of Earth Day was to clean up the air I was like sign me up. I was also interested in clean water. I learned that the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland was so polluted it caught fire. I don’t know about you Eric but I think it is a bad sign when rivers catch fire.
On the positive side, my wonderful Dad who was the son of Irish immigrants and who lived through the great depression used to turn off the lights and the water to save natural resources. I got a lot of influence from him.
Can you share a memorable moment from your environmental advocacy work that had a significant impact on you personally?
Ed Begley Jr.: Yes. I got involved with various people in LA that became part of the Coalition For Clean Air. We worked with the American Lung Association to clean up the air in LA. Today, although we have four times the amount of cars on the road and millions more people, we have a fraction of the smog. All the new technology that we said let’s try is working well like catalytic converters on cars and cleaner power plants. We can solve problems like climate change and help to further clean up air in areas like Houston, TX, Bakersfield, CA, and the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles where there are people who are still breathing in smoggy air.
In your opinion, how can the entertainment industry play a more significant role in raising awareness about environmental issues and promoting sustainable practices?
Ed Begley Jr.: There are groups that act as liaison between the environmental community and the entertainment industry such as Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Media Association to try to get people involved in helping to carry the message. Scientists have great data but can’t draw a crowd like we can as a performer.
What is your relationship to Palm Springs?
Ed Begley Jr.: I used to go out there to the Howard Manor in Palm Springs. It was a hotel that my Dad loved. We would get the bug to drive from Los Angeles, usually during January or February when we could get warm, and see the beautiful big horn sheep and go to the tram. I also used to camp out there near Indian Canyons also. I always had a connection and have been drawn to beautiful Palm springs. Friends would say the desert is dead, but when you look close, the desert is teaming with life, plants, succulents, and biome.
How are you enjoying your latest gig at the CBS hit sitcom Young Sheldon?
Ed Begley Jr.: I love the show, it’s a great show. The kid, Iain Armitage is wonderful. He is as smart in real life as he is on the show and Annie Potts, Wallace Shawn, Wendy Mallick, and Steven Molaro among others are show champions. I love the show. Looking forward to ending the strike so we can get back to work.
In “To the Temple of Tranquility…And Step On It!,” Begley shares a fountain of hilarious and poignant stories throughout his life. The memoir is candid and endearing; in one chapter, he is summoned to Marlon Brando’s house to discuss the practical uses of electric eels. In another, he tells the story of taking Annette Bening to the Oscars in “an oddball kit-car that had gull wing doors, and was nearly impossible to get in or out of, unless you were a yoga master, which fortunately she was.” Not to mention insightful and surprising tales about The Beatles, Monty Python, Richard Pryor, Cesar Chavez, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Waits, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carrie Fisher, and so many more luminaries.
Begley’s unmistakable voice is honest and revealing in a way that only a comic of his caliber can accomplish. Behind all the stories, Begley has wisdom to impart. This is a book about family, friends, addiction, failure, and redemption.
To attend the Book Signing with Author/Actor Ed Begley, Jr., click here.