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Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde
 

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Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde


  New American Library

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,

  New York, New York 10014

  USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China

  penguin.com

  A Penguin Random House Company

  First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC

  Copyright © Blue Puddle, Inc., 2014

  All photos courtesy of the author unless otherwise noted.

  Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

  REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA

  LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:

  Garth, Jennie, 1972–

  Deep Thoughts from a Hollywood Blonde/Jennie Garth with Emily Heckman.

  p. cm.

  ISBN 978-1-101-63067-9

  1. Garth, Jennie, 1972– 2. Actresses—United States—Biography.

  I. Heckman, Emily. II. Title.

  PN2287.G395A3 2014

  791.4302'8092—dc23 2013044213

  [B]

  PUBLISHER’S NOTE

  Penguin is committed to publishing works of quality and integrity. In that spirit, we are proud to offer this book to our readers; however, the story, the experiences and the words are the author’s alone.

  Version_1

  Contents

  Title page

  Copyright page

  Dedication

  Epigraph

  INTRODUCTION

  DOWN ON THE FARM

  THE FIRST BIG BLOW

  BIG BANGS AND UGLY BAND COSTUMES

  CINDERELLA IN THE DESERT

  LEAVING ARIZONA

  I MISS GOING TO SWITZERLAND

  I WAS A TEENAGE TV STAR

  9021-OH

  THE RULE OF THREE

  BEAUTIFUL BOYS

  KELLY AND DYLAN FOREVER

  HOUSEKEEPING

  I LIKE YOUR STYLE

  DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR

  RUNNING DOWN THE AISLE

  THE REAL DEAL

  BEAUTIFUL LIGHT

  THE CUTEST GIRL ON SET

  ZEN AND THE MAKEUP CHAIR

  LEAVING THE ZIP CODE

  BUILDING OUR BOAT

  ALL ABOARD!

  WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU

  RV’ING

  SO YOU THINK I CAN DANCE?

  HOLIDAYS AND HOSPITALS

  RACING THE CLOCK

  A LITTLE BIT . . . DEVASTATED

  IT’S NOT EXACTLY THE OK CORRAL

  LOVE ON THE ROCKS

  OPA!

  A NEW DAY, A NEW HOODIE

  HOME ALONE

  GETTING TO KNOW THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR

  STALKING THE ELUSIVE HAPPY FAMILY

  WHO’S THAT GIRL?

  THROW THIS HOUSE OUT THE WINDOW

  DOG ABOUT TOWN

  LICKING THE BOTTOM OF MY SHOE

  A LITTLE TWITTER

  SINGLE WITH A CAPITAL “S”

  NEVER SAY NEVER

  MISTAKEN IDENTITY

  IS THERE AN APP FOR THAT?

  THREE LITTLE BIRDIES

  DEEP THOUGHTS

  Acknowledgments

  Insert Photos

  To my three little birdies.

  I love watching you fly.

  “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it’s the only means.”

  —Albert Einstein

  INTRODUCTION

  Being a blonde is both a blessing and a curse. There’s an assumption that if you’re blonde you have no brains, and because you have no brains you’re the life of the party, and when you’re the life of the party, everything is easy and your life is carefree and . . . Wait a minute. Really? Is that what the world thinks of us?

  My blondeness has long been one of my most identifying features, and at some point, it became part of my identity. So when I thought about what I wanted to call my memoir, I knew I’d have to capture the truth behind being a blonde. And it came to me: Deep Thoughts from a Hollywood Blonde.

  I felt like this might be a good opportunity to debunk some myths about the fairest among us and, in my own personal case, demonstrate that some of the clichés about blondes are clichés precisely because they are so damn true. Surely I am the right person to write this book, because I am the rarest of blondes: a natural one.

  Cliché number one: Blondes are dumb. Of course! People say this so often that it must be true! And let’s not forget its ugly stepsisters: blondes are ditzy, naive, and have bad memories. In my case, the memory part is absolutely true: I happen to have the worst memory of any human being I have ever encountered.

  My memory is so bad that the people closest to me actually feel comfortable joking about it, because they know I won’t remember that they were just making fun of me. Recently I even had a series of CAT scans done of my brain, and I was certain that these detailed photographs would finally reveal the giant, gaping hole where my memory is supposed to be. Imagine my surprise—and horror—when the images revealed nothing more than a normal, run-of-the-mill brain. There was no weird eraser-shaped growth in there, no evidence of shrinkage or damage—there was nothing to explain why I can’t remember so many things, including what I had for dinner last night.

  You would think that having such a dim memory would make writing a memoir very, very difficult, but actually, once I got started, writing seemed to activate the dormant recollection part of my brain, and my life as I had forgotten it began to come back to me. The more I wrote, the more I remembered. And the more I remembered, the more I began to realize how good this process was for me. About halfway through, something even clicked, and I realized that by writing about my life, warts and all, I was really getting to know myself in a way that was at times humbling, at times horrifying, and definitely always eye-opening and entertaining.

  On top of that, I know that there is an “e” at the end of the word blonde, so clearly I’m no dummy. So myth one—debunked!

  Cliché number two: Blondes are bad drivers. In my case, totally false. One of the things I’m most proud of is the fact that I can parallel-park a forty-foot RV on La Cienega Boulevard in one shot. At rush hour. I’ve done this while watching many a guy struggle to maneuver a Prius into a parking spot in a completely empty lot. I’ve also driven that very same RV across the country with four kids, two dogs, and a baby pig on board. Need I say more? Cliché number two, squashed.

  Cliché number three: Blondes get more attention. True! But whether or not this kind of attention is welcome is another thing. I know every woman, regardless of hair color, has been on the receiving end of unwanted catcalls while she’s minding her own business, or lame come-ons when she’s out with friends. But for blondes, this kind of “attention” can be relentless. Let me tell you, it’s a drag. And it doesn’t help when you’re a blonde who has been on several hit television shows and you are recognized wherever you go. (“There goes that blonde!”) On the other hand, when you’re a blonde, people assume you’re the life of the party and so you’re never left out. The downside of this is that you can never be the wallflower, not even when you might want to be.

  Another blonde cliché: Blondes have more fun. This is a pretty complicated concept, believe it or not, because so
metimes it’s true; sometimes it’s not. You’ll have to read on to find out what blonde fun is all about!

  In the end, I realized that by writing a book, I could, in my own humble way, represent for the fair-haired team, and show the world that we blondes actually do have something to say, at least when we can remember what it is.

  And as it turns out, I have quite a lot to say.

  I’m at a point where it’s time to reflect. I went through a very public divorce, I am now on my own with my three kids, and I just crossed that tricky invisible line into my forties. Maybe because of all these things, or maybe despite them, in many important ways I feel like my life is just beginning. Could it be that there’s something to share about starting over, or starting wiser, or just deciding that sometimes there’s a story to be told in the middle of it all? And maybe it’s a story that other people might relate to?

  Opening myself up doesn’t come naturally. I was in the media spotlight very young with the success of Beverly Hills, 90210, but I did my best to maintain my privacy and stay out of the tabloids. Until recently, of course, when my very public divorce thrust me into the spotlight. And yet I have never really shared my experiences or my side of the story. Very little is known about me or how I’ve gotten to this really gnarly, enlightening, important moment in my life.

  I had to work up the courage to put my story down on the page. This meant owning up to all of the choices, mistakes, triumphs, and experiences that have propelled my life along in seemingly mysterious, often amazing, sometimes devastatingly painful ways. But once I got started, I realized that there is a great gift in this kind of stocktaking, because when I added up all these things, they became the story of me. And learning the story of me has been the most liberating experience of my life.

  Writing this book has been the most challenging project I’ve ever taken on, and also the most illuminating and humbling. Revealing myself has never been my way. I mean, I’ve spent my life playing other people. But in writing this book, I’ve come to realize that in sharing ourselves, we become ourselves. My struggles are not unique, but my story is, and it’s my hope that if I can share a little bit about myself, it will encourage you to do the same.

  So thank you. From the bottom of my heart. For wanting to know me. For caring enough to buy this book. Thank you for the love. It means the world to me.

  That’s a Hollywood blonde for you. And these are her deep thoughts.

  With gratitude,

  Jennie

  DOWN ON THE FARM

  I come from very humble, very loving, very “normal people” stock.

  My parents, John and Carolyn, who were both educators, met and married in small-town Illinois, where I was born and raised. Both my mother and father were married and divorced before they met, and each brought three kids from those first marriages to their union. This meant that, before they had me, they were a kind of real-life Brady Bunch. Which just so happened to be my favorite show while growing up.

  Six kids. That is a handful for anyone, but John and Carolyn cemented their new union by having one child together, and that would be me: the runt, the miracle, the baby of this big, blended family, the blessed little link that joined the DNA of both sides of the Garth family. I am the youngest child by a full five years, and so I was, as you would expect, spoiled rotten. And not just by my parents, but by my four older sisters and two older brothers, and pretty much everyone else around me.

  I was born in the bustling metropolis of Urbana, Illinois, a city of about forty thousand souls. When I was still just a baby, my parents moved me, my two brothers and sister on my dad’s side, and my three sisters on my mom’s side—whom my dad, John, legally adopted, so all seven of us siblings, in the end, are Garths—to a teeny, tiny spot on the Illinois map, a farming town called Arcola. There they bought a twenty-five-acre parcel of land outside of town and plunked us down in my dad’s pink RV while they built us a house and farm, and I lived here with my mom and dad and my three sisters from my mother’s first marriage.

  Arcola, population roughly three thousand, is the home of Raggedy Ann and Andy, is the broom corn capital of the world, and, most glamorously, is the home of the Lawn Rangers, an award-winning precision lawn mower drill team. It’s a sweet, sweet place that is smack in the middle of nowhere and so is utterly devoid of stress. At least, that’s how I remember it.

  From the time I was born, I shared a room with my sister Cammie, who is nine years older than me. I became her little doll, and she fawned over me and took me with her everywhere, and between Cammie and the rest of my family, my feet pretty much never touched the ground, which was a good thing, because I hated—still do—to get dirty.

  My dad, an adult-education pioneer by day, was a rancher and farmer at heart, so he raised Tennessee walking horses and hay on our farm. All of us kids were supposed to do our fair share of chores, but one time, when I was asked to clean out the horse stalls, I burst into tears, and my blubbering was so devastatingly effective that I was never asked to do that chore again. The price for being excused from having to shovel shit was that I was given the nickname Puddles, which I was okay with. In fact, I learned to turn on the waterworks whenever I was called upon to do anything unpleasant. This could have been the origin of my interest in acting. Very quickly, I learned to smile or mug in just the right ways, so that no one in my family would stop adoring my lazy little self, and for the most part, this strategy worked.

  I also, apparently, balked at ranch fashion early on and always wanted to wear dresses, the pinker and frillier the better. I was a girlie-girl from the get-go, and I got a lot of grief about this from my tougher, more outdoorsy older siblings, who wore work boots and overalls and hand-me-down T-shirts.

  We lived on the county-line road, which didn’t mean much to me; it was just like every other single-lane, barely asphalt road that stretched out endlessly through the corn and soybean fields. In the hot summer months, the black tar would heat up and loosen the gravel that would fling everywhere, like a million tiny firecrackers going off as we’d barrel down the roads in my dad’s old blue Ford. I was always silently nervous that we were going to drift off into one of the ditches that outlined the tiny pathway on both sides, because of the big hump that ran right down the middle of that road. I could never understand what the big hump was for: Were they trying to make it a challenge to stay on the road? I’d hold my breath if ever another truck would come up on us and fly by at what seemed like a million miles an hour. There were grasshoppers everywhere and crickets singing what seemed like all day. The smell of fresh-cut grass is something that always makes me feel young again. During the summers my sisters and I would earn extra money “walking beans” for the neighboring farmers, which meant we’d go up and down the hundreds of perfectly planted rows of soybeans, pulling out any stray weeds. I, for some reason, loved this summertime job and the spare change it gave me. Something about cleaning the fields until they were absolutely perfect, as they were intended, never leaving the smallest rogue thistle behind, was deeply satisfying to me. We’d finish our days exhausted and sunburned, but I’d waste no time in begging my sister Lisa to fire up her Honda motorcycle and ride alongside me on my bicycle to the little antiques store about thirty minutes away, which also had a candy counter and a soda machine. We’d have to do this while my mom was at work, because she didn’t like us eating sugar, so we’d sneak it big-time! And yes, I’d ride an hour straight just to sink my teeth into a Baby Ruth.

  My neighbor at the end of the driveway was a little boy my age, Jeff. We became fast buddies, spending entire days together riding our bikes or playing his bitchin’ Atari game. We would hide out in his bedroom with the bright blue shag carpet, joysticks in hand, and battle at Pong until his mom kicked me out at dinnertime, unless we were under the bridge pretending to be hobos, skipping rocks, keeping cool in the wet shade. Jeff was like my little brother; we were two little towheads, completely innocent and free.

  I had a pony named Chocolate, and I lo
ved him more than anything. I started riding when I was just two or three, and Chocolate, it is fair to say, became my best friend and closest confidant. I spent hours and hours with him, telling him my deepest secrets, getting to know every inch of our land. Chocolate was an incredibly patient, forgiving soul. My sister Wendy and I used to torment him by riding him at the same time, with me facing forward and Wendy facing his butt; then I’d try to make him run straight out, while Wendy would pull his tail hairs one at a time, trying to get him to buck and kick so that he’d give us a really wild ride. PETA, an organization that I love and have been a spokesperson for, is, I’m sure, calling someone as I type this. I was a country girl, for sure, but I was no American Girl doll; I could be mischievous and naughty. And I still can be.

  When I wasn’t with Jeff or Chocolate, I was out on my pink Huffy dirt bike, with its awesome white vinyl banana seat and wide-set handlebars. I’d ride that thing all over those twenty-five acres all by myself, totally unaware of how much freedom I had, which was an incredible amount. But all that time on my own made me feel safe and secure being outdoors, and I really grew to feel as though the farm itself had become a good friend to me, too. That piece of land was reliable and solid, and I was grateful for it. I’d cruise around and hunt for leftover corncobs, and then I’d gather them up and make little tepees with them in the barren cornfields. Or I’d pick wildflowers, or make my way down the thinly graveled road that led to the small cemetery that was situated on our property. Once I got there, I’d toss my bike down and step over the low chain-link fence that surrounded this tiny, still manicured plot of land, and I’d walk those rutted little paths between the broken, crooked headstones, and I’d talk to myself and read the names on the tombs and . . .

  Wait a minute. Hold. The. Phone! Why, in the name of Michael Jackson, did my mom and dad buy a farm in the middle of nowhere, Illinois, with a cemetery on the property? Mind you, they didn’t just do this once—they did it twice! Twice! Because this was the second property we’d lived on that had a cemetery on it. When I think about this now, I can’t help but wonder what on earth my parents thought when they did this. Were they into some crazy pagan voodoo thing that meant they could buy only property that had a cemetery on it? Were they just sharing a morbid joke and planning ahead? Okay, I’m starting to get weird and obsessive about this, but really: What was up with those little graveyards? I mean, could it get any more American Gothic? Whatever the reason, the truth is that I find it much weirder to think about this than it actually was to live with them, because I found those private little sacred plots to be a great place to rest and collect my thoughts. Kinda weird, right?

 
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