Surviving a hardscrabble childhood and years as a journeyman actor, Cranston broke through in his 50s with his portrayal of Walter White's transformation from nebbish science teacher to drug kingpin.
As Cranston a bit too gleefully relates, White's criminal alter-ego Heisenberg became an international icon. Cranston spends little time reflecting on whether the character glorifies evil.
Following his "Breaking Bad" triumph, Cranston received acclaim for his Broadway portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson.
The actor's account of how he met the challenges of the monumental role ends the book with a triumphant flourish.
While some of Cranston's reflections have the shallowness of typical entertainment bios, his vignettes about his life and family relationships enrich the narrative. His behind-the-scenes glimpses into TV production are insightful and entertaining.
Before "Breaking Bad" and "LBJ," Cranston enjoyed success as the genial dad Hal on the Fox hit "Malcolm in the Middle" and playing a sardonic dentist on "Seinfield." Early in his career, he portrayed a character on a daily soap opera and auditioned with other actors for commercial and guest-starring roles. An inspired performance in an "X-Files" episode led to his "Breaking Bad" role.
"Breaking Bad" put him among the exalted company of TV icons. "A Life in Parts" shows the virtues of late success - Cranston's still a regular guy who believes in preparation and hard work.