Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering Hardcover – Mar 1 2011
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About the Author
Meredith Baxter has been an actor for 40 years and has five children. She achieved early success in the comedy Bridget Loves Bernie; the acclaimed ABC drama Family and the popular NBC sitcom Family Ties. Baxter makes appearances speaking on breast cancer, domestic violence, alcoholism and general life experiences. She lives in Santa Monica, California with her partner, Nancy Locke.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In this memoir, Baxter opens up and reveals the person behind the persona. I'm drawn to memoirs and found this one totally engaging. It isn't a prettified or glossy overview but an open take on Baxter's childhood (rough), marriage (also rough) and her drinking problem (it took its toll).
When I watched her on television, I thought Baxter seemed to have a hard, no nonsense edge as well as a slight underlying vulnerability. She didn't come across as an ultra feminine sex symbol but definitely a reliable character actress, particularly in family dramas or comedies.
After reading Untied, I can't help wondering if her edginess was bolstered by her alcoholism. At one point she was drinking so often that she was sometimes bluntly told that she couldn't have wine on the set. She engaged in reckless behavior, although I'll leave it to readers to learn those details.
While Baxter could be rock solid in her acting career, her personal life was far more turbulent, starting from childhood. The bumpiest moments in her marriage to Birney included some revelations that I won't put in here or they would be major spoilers. She had a deep health scare at one point. She felt inferior to her college educated husband.
Beause Baxter seemed to be everywhere on television nearly every time I turned on the set -from talk shows to repeats of Family Ties to "movies of the week" -she seemed familiar, almost like a distant relative who visits once in awhile. Wow, was I ever wrong in my perceptions of her! Of course, that makes this book even more riveting.
You may already know the type of lifestyle Baxter is living now. If not, you're in for a surprise twist.
While there isn't a memoir (or not one that I could find) written by David Birney, my spouse did interview him at one point, after he had divorced Baxter. It would be fascinating to read a book written by Birney, if only to compare his viewpoint with his ex-wife. But even without Birney's take on his time shared with Meredith Baxter, this book is well worth reading, especially for anyone who has struggled with issues relating to marriage, divorce, drinking, and childhood issues.
It is a testimony to resilience and should inspire a fair number of readers to think about how to handle personal challenges on their own lives. This is not just another bland "celebrity bio" but one that should resonate with many, including wives and mothers, whether they face difficulties or not. And of course it is a must for Meredith Baxter fans!
The kind of abuse she alleges with David Birney is very hard to see from the outside. It's insidious and gets at the core of a woman's being, so the fact that she had five kids and became paralyzed by fear in the marriage makes sense to me. I watched a relative go through this same thing. The man always came out smelling like a rose while she looked crazy, but it's the snide little comments that wound a woman's soul.
She told this story for others who won't recognize their being abused and I commend her for it. I wasn't as interested in her career highlights or her conversion to a lesbian, but I found her childhood, marriage and battle with alcoholism (especially the fact that she didn't recognize it in herself) fascinating.
This book will help other women, and so even if you can't see her struggle and identify with it, I think it was good she wrote it for herself.
What happened in the meantime was a person too afraid to change her life. Raised to feel unloved and unworthy, saddled with a less-than-stellar stepfather who basically pimped her out and tried to get her for himself, she stepped into two marriages as the result of pregnancy. Those who didn't live in those times don't know that it was "expected" of you. The only solid advice her mother ever gave her was "You don't have to do this" when she was embarking on her second marriage.
Meredith never took any time to explore how to escape her own massive insecurities, and was right when she kicked herself for making the same mistakes time and again. But she had no guidance to do any differently.
Three of her children publicly and solidly back up her stories. I think if she had been raised in these times, she would have decided long ago that she cared for women more than men. But she wasn't, and honestly, that's not even the point of this book. Who cares if she's gay, really?
The point of this book is to take a long, hard look at yourself, be courageous and live your own life, and not the life others have made for you. That's what you should take away from reading this book.
It's a quick read, and there will be times you just want to grab her and yell "grow a backbone!" She finally did, thank the lucky stars.