Kathleen Turner, Renowned for ‘Serial Mom,’ Endured Triumphs and Challenges

In the 1980s, Kathleen Turner gained widespread fame, captivating audiences with both her physical allure and inner strength. Many regard her as one of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood.

Throughout her life, Turner’s resilience has guided her through numerous ups and downs. Her childhood was marked by adversity as she grew up in a family of four children, splitting time between London and Venezuela. Tragedy struck at a young age when her father unexpectedly passed away while mowing the lawn of their Hampstead home.

Soon after her father’s death, the foreign service expelled Kathleen and her family from the UK. They found a new home in Springfield, Missouri, where they mourned the loss of their father and former residence.

As an adult, Turner sought solace in New York, where she pursued an acting career. While she experienced some success on stage, her breakthrough came when she landed the role of the femme fatale in the 1981 film “Body Heat.” Three years later, she had the opportunity to co-star with Michael Douglas in the renowned movie “Romancing the Stone.” During filming, Douglas, who was going through a turbulent separation from his wife Diandra, and Turner developed feelings for each other.

“We were in the process of falling in love – intense, longing gazes and flirtation. Then Diandra came down and reminded me that he was still married,” Kathleen recounted.

In 1984, she married Jay Weiss, a property developer associated with the film industry, and they welcomed their only daughter, Rachel Ann Weiss, on October 14, 1987. However, as they raised their daughter, their relationship began to fracture.

“I would make the movie companies give me extended weekends or extra tickets so my daughter and husband could join me. But there was a sense in the marriage that all the effort was coming from his side, which made me feel guilty. It was one of the reasons it ended. I started feeling very suffocated. I thought, ‘Hold on a minute, you’ve also benefited greatly from being married to me,'” Kathleen explained.

In 2005, Turner starred as Martha in the Broadway revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” which brought the marital problems to a head. While acting in eight shows a week, Turner became extremely busy, and it seemed that Weiss had little time for her when she was at home. They amicably divorced during that time, and Turner received a Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of Martha.

Turner’s film career thrived in the 1980s, and she garnered an Oscar nomination in 1987 for her role in “Peggy Sue Got Married.” She starred in various blockbuster films, including three alongside Michael Douglas. However, in the 1990s, she faced a medical setback when she developed rheumatoid arthritis, a condition characterized by joint inflammation. This condition caused chronic pain and hindered her ability to move freely.

“It was debilitating,” Kathleen recalled. “Losing things temporarily made me realize that I had taken them for granted. Things I had taken for granted, like my athleticism, my ability to throw myself around and move as I pleased. When I lost that, it was a crisis of self: who am I if I can’t do this?”

To manage her pain, Turner turned to pills and alcohol, which aided her in working but led to her passing out during rehearsals for shows like the 2002 stage production of “The Graduate.” After the show ended, she sought rehabilitation and discovered that she was not an alcoholic. Instead, she needed better monitoring of her medication intake and its side effects. Nowadays, Turner practices yoga and pilates to help manage her pain and maintain flexibility.

While effectively managing her pain, Turner redirected her focus toward her stage career. Although she occasionally worked in film and television, she primarily returned to her theatrical roots as she grew older. In her forties, she even starred in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” on stage.

“I knew that the best roles as I got older would be in theater, and that turned out to be true. I take pride in my foresight,” Kathleen remarked.

Focusing on theater also provided Turner with the opportunity to pursue her passions, such as volunteering at Amnesty International and working for Planned Parenthood of America. A staunch feminist throughout her life, Turner has channeled her unwavering strength into empowering other women. Her principles are vividly portrayed in Gloria Feldt’s 2008 memoir about the star, “Send Yourself Roses.”

“We are the first generation of financially independent women. Women are returning to work; they are reinventing themselves. I believed I could support that, even encourage it. So the book encapsulates a lot of philosophy and my beliefs,” Kathleen expressed.

Related Posts