"My Mother was Nuts":In her new book, Actress/Director, Penny Marshall talks about her childhood and her challenging relationship with her mother.
Jamie Lee Curtis
Movie actress and featured guest star on TV's #1 Drama NCIS, Jamie Lee Curtis is on the cover of Good HousekeepingMagazine's October 2012 issue.
A highlight from her interview includes her answer to the question about whether there's anything at which she's ever failed: “... I feel like a failure as a mother a lot, because despite my best efforts, I have replicated parts of how I was parented [that I didn't want to]. Even though I vowed not to and felt like I was doing it so differently, in many ways I repeated some of the same problems.”
Below is an excerpt from an article Jamie Lee Curtis wrote for More Magazine. In it she talks candidly about her mother, who passed away 5 years ago, and their relationship. Her mother was Oscar-nominated film actress, Janet Leigh (of "Psycho" and "Bye, Bye, Birdie" fame). Her father was legendary movie star, Tony Curtis. Her famous parents were the Brad and Angelina of their day until they divorced when Jamie Lee was small. Read an excerpt below:
Jamie Lee Curtis: Memories of Mother By Jamie Lee Curtis, More Magazine
...The life we had with Bob (Janet Leigh's 4th husband to whom she was married for 40 years and helped raise her daughters) was as near to normal as you could find in Los Angeles. At our simple, ranch-style home—actually a remodeled pool house in Benedict Canyon, where Bob had lived as a bachelor, complete with dirt road and a donkey in the stable—we had big dogs, a big tennis court, a big yard, a big pool and a big family of girls as neighbors. There are thousands of photos from those years in which Janet looks happy, at tennis parties, fishing in Wyoming, skiing in Sun Valley, always showing her dazzling smile, everywhere, all the time. I idolized my mother, but despite all these smiling photos, I came to know that her life was not particularly happy.
There were reasons. Her father committed suicide at the peak of her career, I believe over the lending or losing of money; soon thereafter came her costly, public divorce from Tony. Because Bob and Janet both had emotionally and financially dependent parents, they developed disdain for that dependence and raised Kelly and me to need nothing and no one; in turn, they never wanted to be a burden to us. Neediness was an ugly word. In our profession, my mother and I prided ourselves on being not just low-maintenance but no-maintenance, while surrounded by divas who grabbed the focus with their demands. I understand so well what the pull of dependence does in families—but being dependent is an inherent part of being a child and, as our generation is now learning, an elder. It’s part of being human; we all need assists at different points in our lives. I know I developed a false pride in my self-sufficiency, and for a long time it kept me from intimacy with people I love. The same I sadly came to understand was true about my mother.
She took good care of me—my needs were always met and she showed up to everything—but there was no real intimacy. I think it was a generational issue as much as one of her own making, for many people my age have expressed a lack of connection with their parents. In response, my generation has turned parenting into an obsession, and that’s also not so good. I followed my mother’s custodial, caretaking path with my children at first. Luckily my daughter at age eight loudly demanded a different kind of relationship, real intimacy, and I heard her and changed, or at least tried to. I’m still trying to. I also got sober; that helped.
Janet was a public personality who always tried to make her fans happy, and this too was difficult for my sister and me. She belonged to the people when really she should have just been ours. I think it was exhausting for her, but because she came from such a meager background and rose to such heights, she felt she had to be approachable and relatable to all who met her. She talked to anyone, even when it interrupted time with her kids, husband or friends. I confess I now do the same thing; my family will look at me and say “Please don’t” when I am about to engage with some stranger, or, as Kelly calls it, Making Friends. I do want to credit Janet and Bob for their great ability to deal with people: Having learned from them, I can walk into any room anywhere, put out my hand and say, “Hi, I’m Jamie. What is your name?”
I vowed to not be like my mother and yet found myself so very much the same. That is the biggest contradiction of every generation, and certainly of ours; we all have become our mothers. I literally copied mine by following in her exact footsteps, from being a young actress (we were both 19 when we started)—she the Scream Queen and me, her lady-in-waiting. We both also worked in comedies, musicals and adventure stories and became authors later in our lives (my mother’s autobiography is entitled There Really Was a Hollywood). We each had a famous body, stable marriage to an outdoor-loving guy, two beautiful children, a house in the canyon surrounded by eucalyptus trees, big dogs, a second home in Sun Valley; I am even playing tennis in a weekly group as she did. Most important, we shared a powerful drive for immaculate order and control. I am still following her down that narrow (but very tidy) pathway...
...I think the most complicated relationship my mother (pictured left) had, both loving and often cruel, was with her own body. Her face was undeniably beautiful, like a shot of something strong, and her body—that body was the chaser. She was intoxicating. Like anyone who becomes famous for what they look like, when that commodity starts to change, the relationship with it deteriorates. Her friends noted her slimness by calling her Bird Legs, and my mother was incredibly proud that she returned to her 20-inch waist mere weeks after pregnancies; she judged other actresses whose bodies grew and softened. I think she was afraid that it would happen to her too.
It feels like that fear is now global. Our dissatisfaction with what we look like has reached epidemic proportions. Just look around you: People don’t look right. Lips, eyes, hair weaves, implants. It is a freak show being fed by the business it generates, a modern-day Surgical Industrial Complex. I’m sure my appearing without the usual styling and makeup tricks in this magazine, in the 2002 article I titled “True Thighs,” was my unconscious way of saving myself from the same fate. By acknowledging my own changing body, I rebelled against my mother’s fear of it. I know the article and the attention it got were difficult for her.
What has occurred now, five years after her passing, is that my admiration for her has swelled as my disappointments have lessened...
Here is the very latest on Demi and her daughters: Read Demi vs. Daughters: Are the Girls Getting a Restraining Order? (see previous article below) We felt this is worth including on Motherrr.com because part of the difficulty in their relationship stems from the fact that Demi has tried to be more of a "pal" to her daughters rather than a mother figure and they are now being put into a difficult situation.
Is Demi Moore Getting the Cold Shoulder From Daughters?
Many people come to Motherrr.com looking to find out more about Demi Moore and her own mother since they had such a difficult relationship. And now there’s been news about a recent rift between Demi and her own daughters. We weighed whether to put this new information on the website, because it seemed a bit “gossipy.” But, at the same time, it prompted an interesting conversation here at Motherrr.com about a mother’s role in relation to her daughters so we have decided to include a link to it. We found it significant when we read the quote from a source saying that, while “the girls were there for [Demi] through it all – the split [from Ashton] and the rehab – now they just feel like they need a little distance.” Moore, said the source, “is just being very needy right now and the girls are tired of it…they want a mother, not another little sister.”
Initially, in reading the headline and the beginning of the article, it sounded like her daughters were being a little spoiled, but once we read on, and especially the quote above, we saw her daughters in a different light. It certainly is reasonable that they would want Demi to be the mother in their relationship and not vice versa. Demi seems to have become so focused on her own needs that she has forgotten her daughters. This is a good example of how mothers can sometimes cross the emotional boundaries with their daughters and end up hurting the relationship. Mothers don’t always realize how painful it is for their “child” to see them fall apart and emotionally distressing for them to be the one the mother ends up leaning on.
Demi Moore and Her Mother - A Difficult Relationship at Best
Moore's relationship with her mother, Virginia King Guynes, was rocky at the best of times, stemming from an unhappy and difficult childhood. Mother and daughter both became alcoholics.
Guynes would later talk of times when the pair started sharing a Hollywood flat together in 1980, where Rob Lowe, Sean Penn and Charlie Sheen would regularly come round for drinks. That era ended with Moore and Guynes checking into a drug-and-alcohol-recovery program, from which Moore emerged clean. Guynes failed her recovery and atMoore's 1987 marriage to Bruce Willis fell off the wagon with a champagne and vodka binge. The next day she was picked up for drunk driving and Willis and Moore refused to bail her out.
In 1989 Guynes OD'ed on pills and was again arrested for drunk-driving. In 1990 Demi foot the bill for Guyne's eight month stay in rehab, but cut her off when Guynes sold the story of her recovery and tumultuous relationship with her daughter. Guynes embarrassed her daughter twice with pictorials in adult magazines, including her 1993 12-page spread in porn magazine High Society (after being turned down by Playboy). She posed in front of a potter's wheel, parodying Moore's sex scene with Patrick Swayze in Ghost, her translucent white panties glistening with wet clay. As well as the shoot, Guynes also alleged that her daughter's marriage to Willis was 'in trouble' and that Moore called the shots. 'The more famous she becomes', said Guynes, 'the more bossy she becomes'. She also posed in photos spoofing Moore's controversial Vanity Fair pregnancy and bodypaint covers and said 'I dont want to hurt her. This is my story, my life.'
In 1993 at the premiere of Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story Moore introduced her companion, Pattsy Rugg as her mother. Rugg was actually the star's Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, but Moore seemingly preferred her to play the maternal role than her mother. 'Its just so stupid that Demi would say anything like that', Guynes later said, but added, 'Demi's a pretty strange child. She's angry with me. This is what she does when she gets angry. What she will do is find the single most hurtful thing and do it.'
In 1994 Guynes pleaded no contest to a charge of setting fire to the home of a bartender who caught her swiping drinks. She was fined and ordered to go to rehab. Guynes it seemed was dying to be a star. Some even went as far as to say that she was trying to get back at her daughter for leaving her behind. In November 1995 a tabloid tracked her down at her then-home, a rat-infested shack in Las Vegas with a beaten-up '88 Honda Prelude (a one-time brand-new birthday present from Moore and Willis) parked out front. She was surviving on $250 a month social security and $85 a month in food-stamps. In 1996 she was located in New Mexico where she died two years later in 1998 at the age of fifty-four from a brain tumor.
Moore later spoke of how her character in the Emilio Estevez drama, Bobby, made her draw on her own perception of Guynes. Her character called Virginia, like her mother, was an alcoholic.
'The fact that she was called Virginia grounded the part in something that was familiar,' explained Moore. 'And, although there were aspects of it that were painful, it was actually very liberating for me. Emilio knew my mother and she was a pained soul. But it was a great gift being able to go to the depths of the soul that lives underneath the pain of this character.' Also saying that 'I had an unusual childhood.'
'I had a very young mother,' Moore says. 'But I know she tried to do the best she could and that in the mix of it all - and she was nutty, trust me - she really loved me. It wasn't always the kind of love I wanted but that doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't what I needed.'
For someone so committed to doing the best for her own children, Demi says her relationship with her mother, Virginia, was sometimes challenging. Demi says her mother had her when she was just 18. By the time Demi was 5, she started calling her mom Ginny. "My experience is that I was very much the mother to my mother."
Demi says her mother had undiagnosed bipolar disorder and struggled with addiction, and Demi left home at 16.
As Demi became famous, their relationship became more difficult and Demi eventually chose to completely cut off contact with her mother. "She made some choices that were, what I felt, potentially threatening to my children and the family that I had created," she says. "In the moment I felt as if it was the best thing that I could do, because it was setting myself up to have something unpredictable. Whether it was selling stories to the tabloids or things that I just felt I couldn't trust."
Martha Stewart's daughter, Alexis, tells all in a new book, Whateverland: Learning to Live Here. Watch the report below. Martha has reportedly laughed off the whole thing. What do you think? Write your comments below the video. Click video to watch:
What do think?
Martha was/is insane. I've heard of worse parents. She wasn't abusive. She just wasn't as doting or as much of a homemaker as her TV persona suggests.
Update on Jennifer Aniston and her mother, Nancy Dow:
Below is an article we posted previously about Jennifer Aniston and her mother’s decade-long estrangement, which came to an end a couple of years ago. In 2009 Jennifer said this about her relationship with her mother to gossip columnist, Cindy Adams, “It’s good. It’s Ok. Things are now fine between us. All of that is over and we’re in touch with one another. We speak and it’s all over.”
Now, Jennifer is offering support to her mother after she suffered a stroke a few days ago. Jennifer was spotted at the LA Medical Center where her mother, 75, is reported to be in serious condition and unable to speak. Jennifer immediately rushed to her mother’s side. A spokesman for Jennifer has refused to comment on this personal “family matter.”
Jennifer and her mother famously became estranged in the 90’s when Nancy first spoke about her daughter to a tabloid TV show and then wrote a tell-all book in 1999 sharing personal pre-fame stories about Jennifer. Jennifer then made the very difficult and painful decision not to invite her mother to her wedding to Brad Pitt in 2000.
But Aniston’s problems with her mother started many years before. Nancy, a former model, reportedly often picked on a young Jennifer about her looks, her weight, the spacing of her eyes. Jennifer has said that these criticisms filled her with “fear, doubt and insecurities."
In 2001, Jennifer said this about their estrangement to the London Telegraph, “I really think my mother was doing the best she could, but she didn’t know where she ended and I began. This separation had to happen for both of us to find out.”
But by 2009 Jennifer and her mom had reconciled and now Jennifer is able to be there for her during this health crisis. We wish them both the very best.
* * *
Jennifer Aniston’s Turbulent Relationship with Her Mother
By Barbara Wilkov
We often put celebrities on a pedestal and seem to think that they have “charmed” lives where everything is easy and glamorous, but they really have the same problems we do (maybe even some additional ones caused by their celebrity). Famous daughters are certainly not immune to a difficult mother-daughter relationship. Jennifer Aniston’s is one example of a difficult relationship that was able to be healed.
Jennifer and her mother originally became estranged back in 1996 when her mother, Nancy, made “unflattering comments” about her daughter on a tabloid TV show. “I didn’t talk to my mother for two years, but then I was getting married and thought, ‘She ought to know the man I’m going to marry. So get over it. If she can’t apologize, I’ll do it.’ So we got together once, and it went great, except she neglected to tell me she was doing this book.”
“This book” was the 1999 book, From Mother and Daughter to Friends that her mother wrote about Jennifer’s childhood.This time they didn’t speak for at least 7 years. In fact, Nancy then wasn’t invited to Jennifer’s wedding to Brad Pitt.
But Jennifer decided to reach out to her mother again during her 2005 divorce from Pitt, which was strikingly similar to the divorce her mother had gone through many years earlier when Jennifer was just nine years old. Aniston’s soap opera star father, John, had also left her mother for another woman.
Jennifer said, “One thing my parents’ marriage taught me – my mother, actually – is to be independent. She didn’t have her own life, other than her kids, so when my dad left, she was devastated. You have to have a career, a passion – a fallback position.”
She goes on to add, “No matter how small or ugly, there is always something to be learned, if only to say, ‘I forgive,’ though, of course, you still have your moments of not forgetting.”
Jennifer said she started to understand her mother’s behavior with her own divorce and other things that happened. She said of their reconciliation to Elle Magazine, “I’m thrilled. It’s so wonderful. And who knew that this (divorce) would be the thing to initiate this? It’s amazing. It’s like we get to reintroduce ourselves to each other. I’m just happy she’s still here…I’m not saying that there weren’t issues that took place that led to this. But I really see now whether it was judging her on how she handled her separation or her situation, but they didn’t have the advantages that we have with therapy, with self-help books.”
A few years later in 2008, Jennifer told Vogue Magazine that she and her mother were still in the middle of a slow, careful reconciliation “She’s changed,” Jennifer is quoted as saying, “She’s humbled with age….”
It’s difficult to know if this current reconciliation will last, but it’s hopeful, as Jennifer seems to want to try to understand her mother, forgive her, heal their relationship, and move on.
...Carrie says it wasn't always easy to be the daughter of such a glamorous woman. "I thought I looked like a thumb," she says.
"My mother would get up in the morning as my mother and then she would go into this big closet she had," she says. "She'd go in on this end as my mom and she'd come out the other end as Debbie Reynolds. It was like a car wash for celebrities."
Even in her days as a sci-fi pin-up, Carrie says she thought she was fat. "My self-image is just whacked from having the movie star mom," she says.
Debbie says she knew growing up wasn't easy for Carrie. "When she was in grammar school, the teacher one day, she kept calling Carrie 'Debbie,'” Debbie says. "It's okay because I'm Princess Leia's mother so everywhere I go, [I say] 'I'm Princess Leia's mother' now.”...
...In Carrie's early 20s, she says she had a fairly volatile relationship with her mother. "I didn't want to be around her," she says. "I did not want to be Debbie Reynolds' daughter."
Debbie says that was a painful time for her. "It's very hard when your child doesn't want to talk to you but you want to talk to them," she says. "That was the most difficult time of all."
Carrie says she was angry. "You're individuating yourself. This is a very powerful person and in order to have my own identity, I have to sort of forge some kind of character out of nothing," she says. "I wanted my own life and her life was crazy at that time and I was in it."
Still, Carrie says she had empathy for her mother. Carrie says Debbie often confided in her daughter about her marital problems. "I did know what was going on in there. And it was chaos. And it was hard for all of us," Carrie says. "I wanted to protect her. I felt horrible for her"...
Wynonna and Naomi Judd - Their Mother/Daughter Journey
Wynonna Judd is an American country music singer who first rose to fame in the 1980’s alongside her mother, Naomi Judd, as the country music duo, The Judds. After they disbanded in 1991 due to Naomi’s battle with Hepatitis C, Wynonna moved onto a very successful solo career. Naomi is also the mother of actress, Ashley Judd (Wynonna’s half sister).
Wynonna and Naomi’s mother-daughter relationship has always been tumultuous with Wynonna always late and forgetful and Naomi being critical of her daughter. Wynonna’s weight has always been an issue between mother and daughter as well, as Wynonna has struggled with her weight over the years.
Mother and daughter are now about to embark on their first tour together in years as well as a reality show on Oprah Winfrey's new OWN Network. They say they've walked through the fire and now shine brighter than ever. Naomi and Wynonna Judd say three simple changes in the way they communicate instantly strengthened their mother-daughter bond. Read more about their relationship below:
The Judd's Last Encore The Oprah Winfrey Show
Naomi and Wynonna say simple shifts in communication have made major inroads in their relationship. "What [therapy] taught me, I guess, more than anything is to be nonresistant," Naomi says. "Being invitational instead of confrontational."
The women have also worked on setting boundaries and saying no to one another in more constructive ways. "We're moving forward by saying, 'Mom, what I hear you saying is that really doesn't work for you,'" Wynonna says. "I don't have to like it. I don't have to agree with it. [I can say], 'I still think you're crazy,' whatever. But I can say, 'I really understand why you feel that way.'"
Their new found openness, Wynonna says, has blessed them with the gift of listening. "We call it last-drop listening," she says. "When they're finished and there's a pause, rather than thinking of what you're going to say, you literally pause and you say, 'Is there more?'"
Famous Mother/Daughter Duos: Tinseltown has actually produced a treasure of great mother and daughter talents - and for each famous pair, you'd better believe, there's another intriguing tale. By Emily Feimster and Stacy Jenel Smith
More Celebrity Moms & Daughters Videos
Award for a Truly Awful Mother: Watch interview with Mo'nique discussing her role in the movie, Precious, on The Ellen Show and read more about this movie.
Patti Davis Interview: Leslie Stahl interviews Patti Davis about her mother, Nancy Reagan, and Patti's new book, The Lives Our Mothers Leave Us on the CBS Sunday Morning Show.