Meredith Baxter Opens Up in ‘Untied’
Writer Laurie Schenden, left, with Meredith Baxter at Outfest 2010. Photo by Renee Sotile
How could one of the coolest, loving and dependable TV Moms think she’s “impotent” and “not smart enough?”
The first time I met Meredith Baxter we were both attending a function in Los Angeles and she was extremely accessible and kind. The next time our paths crossed, her book was about to come out and apparently I asked the wrong question. She clammed up and seemed a bit fearful that she might give up something that she meant to keep under wraps.
I finally bought Baxter’s book, Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame and Floundering, so that the next time I see her, I can ask personal stuff and it will be as though she brought it up.
If you expect Untied to be a long and detailed account of a secret lesbian identity barely hidden from tabloid headlines, forget it. Any shocking revelations have little to do with sexuality and more to do with her vulnerability as the child of a Hollywood actress or her manipulation as the wife of a narcissistic bully.
The beautiful Meredith Baxter, a clueless whimp who didn’t recognize her own talent? How could this be?
She lays it out in Untied, the memoir that she wrote after getting nudged out of the closet following an all-lesbian cruise that she and partner Nancy took, apparently believing no one would notice.
Meredith Baxter and partner Nancy Locke at Power Up event last November. Photo by Laurie Schenden
The book has a cathartic quality, digging into Baxter’s lack of self-esteem and exploring her many self-destructive relationships, alcohol abuse and most famous roles that seem to revolve around family, including Family, Family Ties, and her real-life family that includes five kids. Here’s an actress with looks, fame and money, yet she faltered and fell flat emotionally, feeling insecure much of her life, to the extent that she let down her own children. She wasn’t sure who she was or confident enough to find out.
Baxter describes growing up with a mother who shut her out to put her own dreams of Hollywood stardom first, and a stepfather enamored with young Meredith’s physical attributes, although as an agent, he was helpful regarding her acting career.
Terrified of her mother and saddled with feelings of abandonment, Baxter never learned confidence, responsibility, ambition or any of the things that help a girl make positive choices for herself.
By the end of the book I believed that it was Baxter’s Hollywood career, which essentially fell in her lap, that saved her life. How ironic is that, considering reports of all the lives that skid into the glamour capital gutter?
Meredith Baxter wasn’t one of those actors who dreamt of stardom, spent years studying and auditioning trying to get a break. She was a natural talent with looks and connections, but apparently didn’t even know it.
But then, turns out there were other things about herself that she didn’t know.
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