Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering, by Meredith Baxter
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
First of all, very clever name. Meredith Baxter, star of TV movies and the classic family sitcom, "Family Ties," writes about her lack of mothering, three troubled marriages, parenting, drug use and alcoholism, bout with breast cancer, and eventually, her coming out as a lesbian.
"Family Ties" last three years were when I lived in Japan. I remember my parents or friends taping a bunch of the American TV shows I liked and sending me videotapes--they were priceless. "Family Ties" was one of the shows I relished on those videotapes.
I've always enjoyed Baxter's acting, and I was surprised along with many others when she quietly announced that she was in relationship with a woman...although I suppose the fact that her three marriages were unsuccesful could have been a clue.
Baxter never went to college so when she was with her second husband, David Baxter, who constantly verbally and emotionally abused her (and sometimes physically assaulted her, too), she always felt "less than." It took a lot of courage for her to finally declare that she'd had enough. I think that verbal and emotional abuse is even harder for women to walk away from sometimes than physical abuse. In her case, she had five children to consider as well.
Those expecting a full book of stories about "Family Ties" will be disappointed, as she covers that period in just a chapter or so. She fondly mentions Michael Gross (who played the dad), who became one of her closest friends and one of the first people she told about the abuse. I first heard about this book when I happened on an Oprah clip with Baxter, and Michael Gross appeared as a surprise guest. It was clear that they have great love and affection for one another.
She doesn't go into great detail about most of her costars (in fact she doesn't even mention Justine Bateman, causing me to wonder), so readers who are expecting a celebrity gossip rag will be disappointed.
It's not high literature, but it was an interesting read, with ultimately, a happy ending.