Kathleen Turner, star of ‘Serial Mom’ fame, has gone through ups and downs

Kathleen Turner became a symbol of strength and beauty in the 1980s, rising to fame as one of Hollywood’s most stunning actresses. This resilience has carried Kathleen Turner through the numerous highs and lows she has encountered throughout her life.

She faced a challenging upbringing in a family of four children, spending her childhood years in London and Venezuela. Tragedy struck at a young age when her father unexpectedly died while mowing the lawn at their home in Hampstead.

A month after his death, Kathleen and her family were kicked out of the UK by the foreign service. Turner and her family settled in Springfield, Missouri, all still grieving their father and former home.

As an adult, Tuner finally found peace after moving to New York to pursue an acting career. She had some luck on the stage – but her biggest break came when she was given the role of the femme fatale in 1981’s “Body Heat.”

On the set of “Body Heat,” directed by Lawrence Kasdan, American actress Kathleen Turner’s career began its meteoric rise. Just three years after her role alongside William Hurt, she was cast with Michael Douglas in the hit film “Romancing the Stone.” During filming, Douglas was in the midst of a tumultuous separation from his wife Diandra, and he and Turner found themselves drawn to each other.

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

In 1984, Turner married Jay Weiss, a property developer she met during filming. The couple welcomed their only daughter, Rachel Ann Weiss, on October 14, 1987. However, as they began raising their daughter, their relationship started to show cracks.

“I’d make the movie companies give me long weekends or provide extra tickets so my daughter and husband could come to me. But there was a sense in the marriage that the effort was all on his side, which made me feel guilty. It was one of the reasons it ended. I started to feel very oppressed. I thought, ‘Hang on a minute, you’ve done very well out of being married to me also,’” Kathleen explained.

Their marital problems escalated in 2005 when Turner starred as Martha in the Broadway revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Despite her busy schedule performing eight shows a week, Weiss seemed disinterested in spending time with her when she was home. They eventually divorced amicably, and Turner received a Tony award nomination for her role.

Turner also earned an Oscar nomination in 1987 for “Peggy Sue Got Married” and starred in several blockbusters during the 80s, including three films with Michael Douglas.

However, the 90s brought significant health challenges for Kathleen. She experienced a severe medical issue when her neck locked, preventing her from turning her head, and her hands swelled, disabling her from using them.

“It was crippling,” Kathleen said. “You stop taking things for granted when you lose them, even temporarily. What I took for granted – my athleticism, my ability to throw myself around, and just be able to move however I wanted to. When I lost that, that was a real crisis of self: who am I if I cannot do this?”

She was eventually diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, a condition causing chronic pain due to swelling in the joints.

“When I was first diagnosed, I was terrified because they told me I’d end up in a wheelchair,” Kathleen explained. “I thought, ‘If I can’t move, I can’t act.’ Acting is not just something I do; it’s what I was born to do. It’s woven into every aspect of my life. The prospect of not being able to pursue my passion was the most terrifying aspect, along with the constant pain.”

To manage her pain, Kathleen turned to pills and alcohol. While these helped her continue working, her reliance on vodka led to her passing out during rehearsals for the 2002 stage production of “The Graduate.”

After the show ended, Kathleen went to rehab, where she learned that she wasn’t an alcoholic. Instead, she was advised to better monitor her medication intake and be more aware of the side effects.

Today, Kathleen manages her pain and maintains her agility through yoga and Pilates.

As she found ways to manage her pain more effectively, Kathleen shifted her focus more towards her stage career. Though she occasionally took roles in film and television, she primarily returned to her theatrical roots as she aged, starring in productions like “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in her forties.

“Because I knew that the better roles as I got older would be in theatre, which is absolutely true, so that was a little foresight on my part of which I am justly proud,” Kathleen noted.

Focusing on theater has not only allowed Kathleen to pursue her professional passions but has also given her time to engage deeply with causes she cares about, such as volunteering with Amnesty International and working for Planned Parenthood of America.

A lifelong staunch feminist, Turner has used her considerable strength to support and uplift other women. Her feminist ideologies are prominently featured in Gloria Feldt’s 2008 memoir about her life, “Send Yourself Roses.”

“We are the first generation of women who are financially independent. Women are going back to work,” Kathleen observed. “They’re reinventing themselves. I thought I could support that, even enhance that. So the book contains a lot of philosophy and many of my beliefs.”

What do you think of Kathleen Turner’s challenging but rewarding path? Let us know in the comments!

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