AMORY – Amory native Sam Haskell had a long and celebrated career with the William Morris Agency, with clients such as Ray Romano and Bill Cosby.
But it was his new career as a published author that brought Haskell and several of his high-profile friends back to his hometown Saturday night.
To help promote Haskell’s memoirs, “Promises I Made My Mother,” a gala and concert were held at Amory High School, with proceeds going to the Mary Kirkpatrick Haskell Scholarship fund.
“When mother died in 1987, I immediately began to think of ways that I could honor her memory,” Haskill said. “I decided to set up a scholarship in her honor because her dream was for everyone in Monroe County to have the opportunity to attend college.”
Haskill’s book promotion tour is taking him across the country and includes appearances on shows such as NBC’s “Today.”
He said that when his friends in Amory wanted to help, he saw it as an opportunity to benefit the community.
Friends in high places
“When my friends in Amory said they wanted to do something for the release of my book, I was humbled,” he said. “So, I asked some of my friends to come to town and help me out and they were so gracious to do so.”
The “friends” to which Haskill referred were stars of stage and screen such as Mississippi native Sela Ward, singer Michael Feinstein, actress Debbie Allen and actress Lucie Arnaz.
“This is my first trip to Amory and I have really enjoyed it,” Arnaz said. “Sam has been my mentor and is a dear friend. I am honored to be here and help pay tribute to Sam in his new endeavor as an author.”
Miss America 2009 Katie Stam used the same term to describe Haskell, the current chairman for the Miss America Organization.
“If I could only use one word top describe Sam, it would be mentor,” Stam said. “I am only 22 years old and Sam and his family have been very kind and wonderful to me. It is an honor to be here in his hometown.”
A different type of memoir
The weekend celebration continues today. Stam will join Haskell at the Amory Regional Museum to sign copies of his book from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“When I decided to write this book, I didn’t want to write a typical Hollywood tell-all,” Haskill said. “I wanted to write something to show who I am as a person — I am the person I am today because of my mother. This book reflects the things she taught when I was growing up and I applied them to my life.”
Haskell’s daughter, Mary Lane, also performed at at the event.
“Show business runs in my blood,” she said. “But, a lot of people can really get caught up in it and lose themselves and their values. My parents raised me to be grounded and have roots in faith. I think dad’s book shows how you can be successful in entertainment without it destroying you.”