The best celebrity memoirs invite us behind the curtain, revealing a side to the performer that’s rarely captured on film. The following books from acclaimed comedians and award-winning actors do just that, offering a behind-the-scenes look at fame while putting truth to the page in a way that’s both informative and entertaining.
13 Dazzling and Delightful Celebrity Memoirs
These star-studded narratives are not to be missed.
Being Henry: The Fonz...and Beyond
By Henry Winkler
In 1974, the sitcom Happy Days first hit the air, launching Henry Winkler to TV superstardom as the charismatic greaser Arthur Fonzarelli. The motorcycle-riding, leather-jacket-clad character epitomized cool. And indeed, the Fonz played a major role in Winkler’s success in Hollywood — but that’s far from the full story. In Being Henry: The Fonz…and Beyond, the actor, director, and producer shares his life journey, from childhood years and early days in L.A. to reaching a new generation of fans through beloved shows like Arrested Development and Barry. Winkler also opens up about the challenges he’s faced, including struggles with severe dyslexia and how living in the shadow of such an iconic character as the Fonz left him uncertain about the future and nearly derailed his career. Suffused with warmth, candor, and humor, Being Henry is a “winning memoir...[and] a heartfelt chronicle of learning to love one’s self, shortcomings and all” (Publishers Weekly).
Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions
By Steve Martin
Steve Martin possesses one of the sharpest comedic minds out there. He’s released comedy albums, recorded music, written screenplays, and is the author of multiple books — from fiction and essay collections to children’s picture books. Martin’s acclaimed bestselling memoir Born Standing Up chronicles his brilliant stand-up career in the 1970s. For a double dose of laughs, we recommend Number One Is Walking, Martin’s illustrated movie career memoir with artwork by New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss. Across its pages, Martin shares anecdotes from the sets of films like Three Amigos and Father of the Bride and his madcap Hollywood misadventures with the likes of Robin Williams, Paul McCartney, Diane Keaton, and more. Bliss then brings the tales to life with his witty artwork. There are plenty of juicy showbiz tales in this New York Times bestseller, as well as a fascinating look beyond the glitz and glamor into Martin’s personal life.
By Viola Davis
Viola Davis is a consummate actor, an Oscar Award winner who disappears into each and every role she takes on. Her acclaimed memoir, Finding Me, is a must-read for any fan. To understand how she got to where she is, it’s important to know where she came from — something Davis discusses in detail in her book. Crucially, she does so without pulling any punches, so you can expect a raw and emotional ride that touches on issues like race, class, and misogyny. At the same time, Finding Me is also a tale about overcoming the restrictions society sets on us, about being resilient, and about shedding shame and finding self-love.
By Elliot Page
In this “eloquent and enthralling” (Washington Post) bestseller, Elliot Page chronicles his career as an actor and advocate and the universal journey to discovering who we really are. Page established himself as a Hollywood star in Juno, and his career continued to thrive despite his personal discomfort with the suffocating nature of fame and the way Hollywood positioned him. In Pageboy, Page writes about coming out as trans and finding his true self while at the same time navigating the glare of the spotlight and the complications it brings. There are plenty of titillating stories in this celebrity memoir, including the much-publicized affair with Kate Mara and an encounter with a homophobic A-lister, but Page also makes sure his joy, hope, and strength shine through.
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
By Trevor Noah
We highly recommend Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. For starters, this book by a comedian is both funny and poignant. Moreover, it’s so richly descriptive that you feel you’re right there with Noah as you flip through the pages. Every situation, conversation, and real-life character is brilliantly captured, especially Noah’s mother — a figure we could not get enough of. Noah’s memoir also offers a history lesson for those who know little about South Africa and apartheid, and an immersion into a culture few Americans experience.
The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family
By Ron Howard & Clint Howard
In this New York Times bestseller, brothers Ron and Clint Howard discuss their childhoods as young stars and the ways that their early successes impacted their lives in both good ways and bad. Ron, the more famous of the siblings, details how his early roles opened plenty of doors in Hollywood but also led to pressure, bullying, and a lifelong search to uncover his true passion (turns out it was behind the camera). Ron’s younger brother, Clint, meanwhile, found early success on shows like Gentle Ben before his career stalled in adolescence — which led to his forging a fresh path as a character actor. All of it is captured here, alongside details about Rance and Jean Howard, the brothers’ beloved parents, who put their own showbiz dreams aside to ensure the success and safety of their children.
We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story
By Simu Liu
Simu Liu is an international celebrity thanks to star-making turns in Shang-Chi and Barbie, but many Canadian fans first knew the actor from his television work up north. In We Were Dreamers, Liu shares how he went from a Canadian sitcom performer to the star of Marvel’s first Asian superhero film, but the story doesn’t end there. Liu’s memoir is also about his family’s immigrant experience from China to Canada, and his own struggles navigating his parents’ expectations while yearning to strike out on his own.
The Princess Diarist
By Carrie Fisher
The world lost a true legend when Carrie Fisher died in 2016, but thanks to her incredible body of work, her wisdom and hilarity live on. And while we adore her performances both on and off the screen, it’s Fisher’s brutally honest memoirs that we’re celebrating on this list. The Princess Diarist, released just five weeks before her passing, is Fisher’s most candid work in terms of discussing her iconic performance as Princess Leia and the way the role shaped the rest of her life. It offers an exciting look behind the scenes of Star Wars, including Fisher’s relationship with Harrison Ford and her love/hate relationship with fame in the wake of the film’s staggering success.
By Will Smith
In Will, Will Smith gives us a level of vulnerability that we rarely see from an actor who’s known for his affable demeanor and charming everyman vibe (Oscars slap notwithstanding). This is the real story of how Smith made his way through Hollywood, from rap music to movies, and from summer blockbusters like Independence Day to dramatic works that earned him Academy Award nominations. There’s a lot of wisdom in this book, because Smith isn’t afraid to bare his insecurities and inner demons — a necessity for a memoir of this kind. Co-written with Mark Mason, the bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Will reveals it all.
Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing
By Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry is a very funny man, as any fan of Friends will tell you. But while Perry’s memoir includes plenty of humor, it’s not a feel-good narrative. In fact, Perry’s story is rather tragic, as he reveals that he let his lack of self-worth and early feelings of abandonment color the vast majority of his adult life, including his romantic relationships and career. Perry also struggled with substance abuse, which compounded his internal battles and stopped him from enjoying his success. He writes about it with unwavering honesty in Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.
The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man
By Paul Newman
A New York Times bestseller, Paul Newman’s The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man was named one of the best books of 2022 by Time and Vanity Fair. The unique memoir, which was released after Newman’s death, was many years in the making. In 1986, Newman and his screenwriter friend Stewart Stern set out to create a dual oral history of Newman’s life: Stern interviewed as many of Newman’s friends, family, and acquaintances as he could find to discuss their time with the Hollywood star, and Newman then presented his side of the story. The only stipulation? Everyone had to be completely honest. The result is this eye-opening work. The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man touches on everything from Newman’s childhood to his early years in Hollywood and his A-list celebrity, and it does not shy away from the rougher parts of his story — like his traumatic early years, struggles with alcohol, or the loss of his son. The book also covers Newman’s abiding love for wife Joanne Woodward, his thoughts on Hollywood legends of his era, and the actor’s inner passions.
The Last Black Unicorn
By Tiffany Haddish
Tiffany Haddish is one of our favorite comedians, and her very funny memoir proves that she’s just as compelling on the page as on the stage or screen. The Last Black Unicorn serves up uproarious and unflinching anecdotes from Haddish’s childhood, her stints as a bar mitzvah hype woman and airport staffer, and her dating life. The bestselling memoir also chronicles her journey into stand-up and covers more difficult moments in Haddish’s life story, always highlighting the way that humor got her through.
By Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights is not your typical celebrity memoir — but then again, McConaughey is not your typical actor. In this New York Times bestseller, which USA Today hailed as the best celebrity memoir of the past 10 years, the Academy Award–winning actor looks back on the first 50 years of his life and shares the wisdom he’s accrued through stories, poetry, prayers, photographs, and more. Uniquely told and radiating the actor’s singular presence and delivery, Greenlights is “a wild ride to be sure, but if you enjoy McConaughey and all of the eccentricities and contradictions that come with him, it’s one you won’t want to miss” (Texas Monthly).