The History of Literature Podcast

182 Darkness and Light (with Jessica Harper)

Jessica Harper has had the kind of life it would take ten memoirs to capture. Born in 1949, she went from a childhood in Illinois to a career as a Broadway singer, a Hollywood actor and movie star, a songwriter, an author of children’s books, an author of cookbooks, and now a podcaster. Along the way, she’s worked with everyone from Woody Allen to Steve Martin to Bette Midler to Garry Shandling to Peter O’Toole to Max von Sydow to Brian di Palma to – well, it’s a who’s who of everyone Jacke admired when growing up in the 70s and 80s. She joins Jacke for a conversation about her new project, WINNETKA, a podcast-memoir in which she explores her childhood in the 50s and 60s – and the secrets that cast long shadows across even the brightest of families.

Learn more about Jessica Harper and WINNETKA at

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2 thoughts on “182 Darkness and Light (with Jessica Harper)”

  1. Jacke,
    Thank you for the e mail telling me we are breaking up. It was the classic, “let’s be friends” note. I get that you have other plans beyond this gem of a podcast. I imagine that your next projects will be wonderful, too, but as a teacher and lover of stories and storytelling, this podcast will have a permanent place in my heart. The world is too much consumed with life as a profit – making endeavor so your efforts are noteworthy. It is obvious this program was a labor of love and I was hooked in that first episode when you cracked up your own self by declaring you were down in the gutter with a towel over your face.
    If you were worried about image and selling, you would have cut out that instant of sincerity.
    Your ability to take a subject and propose odd, thought – provoking exercises to them is something you do brilliantly. Suggesting some authors only need a paragraph of their writing to understand them is just an example of the fun you put into your discussions. When you and El Presidente both reminisced about your love of the Great Brain books, I knew there would be unique twists in this show. (I must say, though, I was surprised in your discussion of the lack of good, sports novels that you never mentioned the novel that ticked every box in your analysis, Bernard Malamud’s “The Natural”. Its ending is nothing at all like the Robert Redford movie and bears better scrutiny.)
    You are one of a kind, sir. That is one of the best compliments I think a person can receive. This podcast is no longer a thing. It is a spirit, an entity, created from your love of storytelling. It is immortal now. Thanks.

    1. What a beautiful comment – and hopefully we’ll stay good friends for a while! Many thanks for your kind words. I consider it a great privilege to have had the chance to talk to listeners like you. And I’m not finished yet. 🙂

      (PS: You’re right about The Natural. I have a feeling that was one in my show notes and didn’t make it into the conversation. It’s a great novel, though, and everyone should read it. (I like the movie too, even though they are, as you say, very different.)

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