Shirley MacLaine's response to daughter Sachi Parker's scathing tell-all book is interesting. The septuagenarian actress released a statement that she was heartbroken over the tome, blasting that "Lucky Me: My Life With — and Without — My Mom, Shirley MacLaine" was "virtually all fiction. I'm sorry to see such a dishonest, opportunistic effort from my daughter."
Well, this column can substantiate some of Parker's claims from someone who clearly would know: Shirley MacLaine herself, in a number of jaw-dropping interviews with Marilyn Beck. For instance, in 1983 she volunteered that she had let Sachi make all her own decisions, including where she wanted to live, from the time she was two years old. Marilyn, astonished, asked her "How can a two-year-old say 'This is right for me?'"
"But you see," answered MacLaine, "she knows that she's not just a two-year-old. She knows that she's a very old soul who also chose me for a mother, and I chose her for a daughter, and because we come together on the spiritual issues, she is very mature and taken responsibility for everything." MacLaine said she and Sachi were mother and daughter in another life, too, except that then, Sachi was the mother.
Thus, it was Sachi's fault — er, choice that she spent most of her childhood away from MacLaine, living with her father, producer Steve Parker, in Japan or in European boarding schools. At least, it was according to MacLaine.
Well known for her belief in reincarnation and a wide range of what were once called "New Age" views, MacLaine herself began her "journey of self exploration" when "I was two and commenced what I refer to as reflective therapy — wandering away by myself to think my private thoughts, to wonder who I was," she said.
"Who says a wife is better, or a mother more loving and valuable, just because she's under foot all the time?" asked the actress in a 1967 chat, justifying her very long-distance relationship from her daughter and then-husband.
In 1971, the star explained to Marilyn that a parents' job was to bring a child into the world, and then life was up to them. In essence, her obligation to Sachi was overonce she had given birth.
"I wish she had been a bit more of a mommie," Sachi told People magazine, acknowledging that her mother wasn't one. She also expressed her view that MacLaine wasprobably too young to be a mother and that the "very seductive" life of a major Hollywood star had much to do with her failings as a parent.
Actually, it's not hard to make the case that Parker goes light on her mother's complete self-centeredness and self-absorption.
In 1977, after finishing filming on "The Turning Point," MacLaine talked about her degree of self love: "I think my level of self esteem borders on arrogance — not that I don't lack self-confidence in some areas."
"Like feeling inferior because I don't speak five languages. S--- like that."
There is irony is MacLaine's upset over "Lucky Me" — since her own tell-all books of the past have produced dismay in others. Brother Warren Beatty let it be known that such was the case after MacLaine's hugely popular "Out on a Limb" was published. And, in a scathing Esquire interview, her "Terms of Endearment" on-screen daughter, Debra Winger, characterized MacLaine as a self-absorbed egotist who gave herself repeated birthday parties and who couldn't be quiet about her love affairs.
"I don't really want to get into that ... reaction to that. Because so much of it is her problem," she told Marilyn at the time. "I also have to say that Debra Winger or whoever else talks about me or does whatever they do in my life, in my play as a separate reality, has to deal with the karmic reaction to what they cause. You see, what she puts out, she will get back. And what I put out, I'll get back."
To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.