Growing up in the 1970's, our favorite television child stars were portrayed in the media as regular everyday kids.
These teen kings and queens led charmed lives in front of the camera. Teen magazines that fans read led them to believe the stars they idolized, whose pictures adorned their bedroom walls, lived perfect lives.
But off-camera, reality was different. They drank, did drugs, and had many affairs that the public never suspected. Because today's modern technology did not exist, every slip did not get recorded for endless loops on "Entertainment Tonight" and YouTube.
Several teen stars of the 1970's have written autobiographies and shed light on the truth about their not-so charmed lives.
Valerie Bertinelli wrote two best-selling books about her life. The first, entitled Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time (a play on the name of her hit series on CBS, One Day at a Time) tells of her life as America's Sweetheart married to one of rock and roll's bad boys, Eddie Van Halen. It chronicles her journey to and through motherhood, her personal struggle with weight and self-confidence, and finding love again.
Her second book, Finding It: And Satisfying My Hunger Without Opening the Fridge continues her story. Now forty pounds lighter, Valerie struggles with maintaining her weight and dealing with the issues that caused her to yo-yo up and down the scale all her life. She also deals with her son Wolfie's newfound love and time away from her while he is on the road with his rocker dad, and trying to lose enough weight and get fit enough to wear a bikini on camera.
Both books are told in a girlfriend-to-girlfriend style. It feels like she talking just to you.
In her book High on Arrival, Mackenzie Phillips, Valerie Bertinelli's co-star on One Day at a Time, shocks the public with her confession of a ten year incestuous relationship with her father, John Phillips, of The Mamas and The Papas. While her teenage drug use was known to the public (unlike Bertinelli who kept hers private), she reveals in her book that it started at age eleven. The book chronicles her highs and lows as she battles addiction and her search for inner peace as she quiets her demons of the past.
In Prairie Tale, Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert tells how she struggled with identity as an adopted child (she uses negative adoption language in her writing, which bothered me) who lived with a mother who insisted living in an image of perfection. She tells about her life on the set of her hit television show with Michael Landon, her love affair with Rob Lowe, her failed first marriage, and her addicition to alcohol that threatened her second marriage to actor Bruce Boxlietner. She learned to love herself, the way her fans always have.
Maureen McCormick, better known to the world as Marcia Brady from The Brady Bunch, shares her battle with drug addiction, weight, and family loss in her book Here's the Story. While she details her life as a Brady as all sweetness and light, when the show ended, Maureen descended into a life in the dark side of drug addiction. Overcoming her cocaine habit, caring for her mother at the end of her life and dealing with her brothers, Maureen survives it all.
Might As Well Laugh About it Now
by Marie Osmond is not anautobiography told in a linear fashion. Instead, each chapter is an anecdote that tells a life lesson that Marie learned. While never succumbing to drugs and alcohol like her peers, Marie had struggles of her own. Two failed marriages, depression and weight issues are chronicled in her book. The loss of her parents that she is still overcoming and the love of her children and all family Osmond makes this an uplifting book. It is like reading your girlfriend's diary.
In today's world, it is hard to imagine any celebrity hiding anything from anyone. But in a more innocent time in the past, actors were given some kind of private life. Reading these autobiographies thirty years after the events happened reminds us of a time when life, at least on the surface, was simpler.