Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My Extraordinary Ordinary Life

This next book comes from someone who, with all of her ICONIC success as an actress, said and I quote "If I get hit by a truck tomorrow, I want to know I've returned my neighbor's cake pan." It proves just how TRUE and salt-of-the-Earth to her roots she really is. From her humbled start in Texas to her legacy in Hollywood, here is the story of the ONE and ONLY, Sissy Spacek.

When she was growing in East TX, behind her local high school stood a dump yard. While used, they, Sissy and her siblings, would find perfectly good items others had discarded that they could take home. It reminded me of 2 quotes that came to mind: 1. One persons trash is another persons treasure. And the second one is this: Just because it's free, doesn't mean it's no good. Originally born on Christmas Day 1949 and ruining the holiday for her older brothers, Ed & Robbie. her parents named her Mary Elizabeth, but her brothers called her "Sissy" and it stuck.

Sissy's values as a child were formed in a community where material possessions didn't count for much. Her dad, Edwin Spacek, came from a long line of Czech farmers. Her dad may have "acted" strict, but was truly a softy. The town she grew up in, Quitman, TX, didn't have much of anything but it had everything they needed. Sissy and her brothers were very close growing up. She wanted to be like them and idolized them. When she was 4 yrs old, Sissy learned of the double standard and HATED it. Sissy and her brothers were inseparable. Quitman didn't need a 911 center, you had your neighbor. One time when Sissy was accidentally left behind somewhere, she seen her mom's car pulling away and ran after it. She felt abandoned and called her mom, who was already home. When she told her mom that she was left, her mom said she was dramatic and  that she should be an actress. Things parents say to kids.

Sissy loved to be around and be in her mom's shadow. Her parents grew up during the Depression. Her dad had a modest living, but invested wisely. They would be given nice things at Christmas, but never extravagantly. Sissy's dad and his family originated from Granger, TX. People in Granger still pronounce her/their last name the traditional way: Spot-check. Sissy's dad changed it to pronouncing Spay-sik. It was easier to change it than correcting people. Sissy's Aunt Thelma looked like Vivien Leigh and was discovered by a Hollywood talent agent. Instead she/Thelma enrolled in college, met and married an agricultural economist, Elmore Ruel  Torn. Their handsome son, Rip Torn, took the Hollywood trip Thelma missed out on. Years later, Rip married stage actress Geraldine Page. With their help, more than a decade later, Sissy got her first taste of acting life one summer in New York.

Sissy's parents met on a blind date in 1938. Her dad was with the Chamber Of Commerce. Her mom was finishing business college. Sissy's family lineage made and showed great strides throughout history. Sissy's mom would type documents part-time for an abstract company at a time before Xerox machines and things were done manually. Sissy, at a young age, was famous for fishing things. Her favorite place to explore was the courthouse. She would swivel in the judge's chair when no one was looking. Her favorite of all was the spiral staircase.  Her dad worked in the basement and down the hall Sissy would devour the books in the library. Especially biographies. Sissy's father made a BIG IMPACT and MARK all over Texas. Being the only girl, Sissy wanted to be a part of her brother's world.

For spending cash, as a kid,  Sissy and her brothers would scavenger for Coke bottles and cash them in. Sissy and her brothers LOVED animals growing up. There were always animals that they would bring home. They even took in a pet crow that originally came from a neighbor. As a kid, Sissy was an EXPERT w/ a hula hoop. When she entered a hula hoop contest, it taught her not to count her chickens before they were hitched. When Sissy was growing up, she would go to the movies/picture show in town. She would eventually go w/ her brothers and tag along. They would watch old movies and Sissy would TRULY believe what was happening on the screen was REAL. She would lose all track of time due to the magic in the screen. Sissy's FAVORITE book & film of ALL time was the ICONICALLY CLASSIC 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. What really pulls her in to it is the depiction of small town life in the South. Sissy felt she could relate to Scout. A tomboy in a small town.  Even though Sissy was lucky to have her mom, her dad was her Atticus Finch.

The first time Sissy noticed segregation  in her town was other races entering the theater in a different manner. The whites & blacks has separate EVERYTHING. The Jim Crow laws were perplexing, but it was all they knew. Everyone got along well. Commerce was different. Trading for services was how people got to know each other. Sissy was always a good student, but she wasn't the smartest. She loved the math, but hated the spelling. One thing Sissy was good at was fishing. When she was 6, Sissy's parents took them for a picnic and a performance. That was the day she decided to go into show business.She took up guitar and piano lessons. She progressed quickly. She later formed a group that performed around town.

Sissy started to write her own songs and search for her own style. She never fell for any rock/pop. She was NOT impressed w/ Elvis, but she loved the Beatles. John was her FAVORITE. Sissy was a cheerleader in school. She marched as a drummer in band. A nasty staph infection led her to a twirler w/ marching band. Coming from Sissy, she was a tomboy. Her first dose of the real world came, as did many, in 1963 w/ JFK's assassination. She was in school in the 8TH grade. Robbie, in his sister's eyes, was the TRUE actor in the family. Because a career in theater was out of the question, Sissy poured all of her efforts into music. Carrying her guitar w/ her everywhere and singing for anyone who would listen. Even though they fought like cats/dogs, Robbie & Sissy were best friends, even as teenagers. She would pick out her brothers clothes, knowing what was best. Robbie was a fast runner and eventually joined track.

When he was 17 and Sissy was 16, Robbie began to feel run down. At first, they all thought he might have something he couldn't shake; like a flu or a bug. After he was taken to a family doctor, he was sent to a hematologist
who diagnosed him w/ leukemia. Before beginning chemo & treatment, Robbie was DETERMINED to do one thing: the track finals in Austin. He assisted the kid who had taken his place at the meet. Robbie shook this kid's hand, wished him luck and helped him set his blocks. Robbie was in/out of the hospital for the next 16 months. His sickness turned their world upside down. Sissy missed ALOT of school, but her teachers let her make up the work. Every Wednesday Sissy and Robbie had a party on the 6TH floor of the hospital. Everyone within the hospital floor became an extended family. Sissy would bring her guitar and sing. It made Robbie and the other patients feel like they mattered; that they weren't forgotten because they were sick.

There were times of brief remission only to have hopes dashed. Robbie came home at times on short trips. Sissy came home one time and Robbie was sitting in the driveway grinning from ear-to-ear. Robbie was holding up a newspaper w/ a headline that said: CURE FOUND FOR LEUKEMIA. As a celebration and he had always wanted one, their dad bought Robbie a foreign sports car. It was love at first sight. He even drove it in their high school homecoming parade. His hair was even growing back. Sissy was in front of him in the marching band. Robbie kept up w/ his school work and was able to graduate w/ his class.

The following spring, Sissy entered a local beauty pageant. She won second. Her talent performance caught the eye of one of the judges, a writer from the Style section of the newspaper. Sissy was hired to sing & play at parties where she was a hit! She was invited to go to New York to cover fashion shows. It was to be a great distraction from home. Her parents were reluctant to send a 17-yr-old on her own to New York and so was Sissy, who was torn between leaving Robbie and her desire to go.  Robbie encouraged her to go. Sissy would stay w/ Rip & his family in Manhattan.

Sissy never seen that fashion writer again. When Sissy OFFICIALLY left the airport, she was ECSTATIC to see the city. She knew she would never be the same. On the front seat in the cab to Manhattan, Sissy nearly broke her neck staring at the tall buildings. They, even w/ busy schedules, made Sissy feel safe and welcome. Geraldine, "Gerry", took Sissy under her wing.  She loved their home and lifestyle. The experience she had was a far cry from Tyler, TX. Sissy crossed paths w/ Judy Garland's daughter, Liza Minnelli. Once Sissy got accustomed to the city, she ventured on her own.

Because others were becoming interested in her songs, Rip decided Sissy should talk to an agent. He arranged a meeting at the William Morris Agency. They told her to come back when she's older. Sissy's brother, Ed, was working for Decca Records in Dallas and set her up w/ an audition in New York. They said they already had a singer on their roster who sounded like her. It was Loretta Lynn.  Back at home, things weren't improving w/ Robbie who was worsening. After receiving a letter from him, that could bring a tear to your eye, she responded back. In late August, Sissy was informed to go home because she was needed. She flew back RIGHT AWAY. When she got there, Robbie's condition was worsening. He had gotten an infection. In his hospital room in TX, it was REAL. Sissy couldn't pretend anymore. Robbie OFFICIALLY passed away on 9-19-1967. Sissy felt lost with a huge void.

Sissy as homecoming queen
When they got home from a 300-mile trip, the town rallied around them to take care of the Spacek family.  When Robbie's body arrived in Whitman, Sissy felt at peace. Rather than being overprotective, Robbie's death made the family more willing to let Sissy go. After Robbie's death, Sissy lost interest and didn't care for much of anything. New York became her new goal. She made it through her senior year; becoming homecoming queen. It really made Sissy feel better. The only passion she had left was music. After gradually sleepwalking through senior year, Sissy gradually returned to life.

There was never ANY DOUBT on Sissy going to college. She got into the University Of TX. She did all she could to go back to New York for the summer. She was going to give her singing career one more try before college. After six weeks, Sissy's parents paid for her first year's tuition. College life just DID NOT suit her. Her life was passing by and she never made it to the dorm.

Sissy got a job working for $10.00 a night singing in a steakhouse in the same building she resided. She went around playing for customers. It was her first job in show business and she didn't starve. When she wasn't working, she was writing and producing w/ new friends. Sissy, not long after, quit the job at the steakhouse and needed extra cash. Sissy jumped at a chance for a receptionist who was on leave. After a few weeks, the original receptionist returned and Sissy left. After Sissy's roommate was caught spending paychecks assigned to Sissy from the receptionists job, that Sissy had NO IDEA about, the roommate was in trouble. Sissy went the next morning and changed things to fix that situation. Sissy cam back to find the locks changed and her things outside. She had no place to go. She couch surfed until she found a roommate to share an apartment with.

The Allman Brothers
In the summer of 1969, Sissy's roommates went to Woodstock in NY. Sissy was invited to go but declined. It wasn't her thing. Even though she had STRONGLY opposed the Vietnam War, Sissy wasn't much of an activist. She did go to a few demonstrations. She joined some friends for a match on the Pentagon in WA, but she wasn't politically committed. There were times in the late 1960s Manhattan when a young Sissy found herself in some very threatening situations. One of her friends, Jonny, was a song runner who would take Sissy on trips to radio stations all over the Northeast. Jonny quickly morphed into one of the most powerful moguls in the music industry. He managed EVERYONE including the Allman Brothers Band. He introduced Sissy to them, because they were both from the South and they hit it off. Sissy and Gregg would also jam a little.

Gregg loved Sissy's 12-string guitar. Whenever the city of New York overwhelmed her, Sissy would go home to Quitman for awhile to catch he bearings and take a deep breath. She would stay for awhile and return. One of Sissy's friends in New York was a fashion photographer. After showing one of her head-shots to his agency, Sissy had a short stint at a Chanel No. 5 ad model. It was short lived but the head of the modeling agency wanted to meet her. They put her in the RIGHT direction.

Robert Redford
The day Sissy met Bill Treusch, the head of the agency who represented Christopher Walken, Carol Kane, Mary Beth Hurt & Diane Keaton, EVERYTHING changed for Sissy. One afternoon, Sissy was visiting in his office and was introduced to Robert Redford. It was Bill Treusch that suggested Sissy try acting. Sissy discovered a theory that would guide her through her work: "To be an actor, you have to live a life." What Sissy loved most about performing music was the way the audience was right there w/ her. Thanks to her representation by the RIGHT people, Bill Treusch, Sissy got ALOT of auditions. One eventually took her to Hollywood.

Mary Tyler Moore
In 1971, Sissy met w/ a young director, Michael Ritchie, to talk about a part in his film, Prime Cut. When they finished, he wanted her for the film. The only problem was that they wanted Sissy to fly out to L.A to screen test. Her funky, cool girl persona she had perfected in New York went right out the window as soon as she arrived in Studio City. Sissy started jumping up/down when she seen the LEGENDARY Mary Tyler Moore walking across the street. The test screen went until Sissy got the role in Prime Cut w/ one more hurdle to jump over. She was asked for her first nude scene. It wasn't unusual in those days for that request. Sissy weighed her options, called and informed her parents. After much deliberation, Sissy seen the good outweighed the bad. She packed her bags and never looked back.

Sissy's co-star, Lee Marvin, was actually very protective of her. Sissy was so caught up w/ the filming that she hardly noticed the battles going on behind-the-scenes. Sissy was asked to write and record the music that went w/ the film. Prime Cut came out in the summer of 1972 to lukewarm reviews. Sissy was now a working actress w/ proof of footage. She went back to L.A. to work on a film that would change her life forever. Not long after, Sissy had met w/ a director for a part in his film 'Badlands'. Sissy felt a kinship w/ the director, Terrance Malick, because of their similar backgrounds. Terrance hired  Sissy because she was still a small town girl from Texas. That was exactly who Holly Sargis was. Terrance even included Sissy in the creative process of the  film. It really meant ALOT to her. When Sissy auditioned w/ actor Martin Sheen, she KNEW they had found their Kit. She was Holly. In their part of the world making the film, other people were making a different film. Sissy had a life altering thing happen to her: she fell in love w/ Jack Fisk. Badlands was his FIRST SERIOUS film.
Sissy and Jack

Their relationship was full bloom. Sissy had found her soul-mate and didn't try to hide it. Their first OFFICIAL date ended w/ a search party. At first, Sissy thought Jack's dog, Five, would be jealous of her. Five leaned on people she liked and it meant she had accepted Sissy. Their courtship can only be described weaving within the making of the film. It was kismet. 'Badlands' took 10 months to finish. Sissy was NERVOUS about its reception. They were SHOCKED in utter silence. It WAS NOT a comedy. The critics LOVED it. It was recognized as a landmark in AMERICAN cinema. Sissy didn't know it, but she was part of something great.

If Sissy & Jack had met a few years earlier when she wanted to be a rock star and he wanted to be a painter, they might have sailed right by each other. But now all either of them wanted to do was make films. When Sissy was w/ him, she didn't feel the need to pretend or act a certain way. He liked her just for that. Jack gave up his small rented house in Laurel Canyon while they were filming 'Badlands'. They furnished a place for $300 and the props form the movie. Whenever Jack was w/ his old friend and business partner, David, in talking and hanging out w/ each other, Sissy felt lucky to be included, and found that she fit right in w/ them. She felt a part of the conversation and finally had her own seat at the table.

Brian De Palma
Even though 'Badlands' was a hit w/ the critics, it  was not Sissy's ticket to stardom. A few months after returning to L.A. after working on a film, Jack had the chance work w/ up-and-coming director, Brian De Palma. When they were back home in Texas, Jack's mom, Gerri, flew down from Washington to visit them on location. Sissy & Gerri had an instant connection from the moment they met Sissy & Jack were so happy as they could be w/ each other, but neither of them were interested in marriage. Why mess up a good thing? Since it wasn't such a big deal for a piece of paper, they just went for it. Sissy and Jack were married on 4-12-1974. On their way home from the chapel in Santa Monica w/ Five the dog as their witness, they stopped at an A&W for a couple of root beers. That was their wedding day.


Sissy, Jack & Bill Paxton
As conservative as he was, Sissy was surprised when Jack encouraged her to keep her birth name, something she was already planning on because she worked hard enough for it. It wasn't something women did in those days. Jack didn't care less about it and he encouraged her to be independent and make her own money. The only time Sissy had in keeping her own name was when she applied for a passport after they were married. One of the movies Jack worked on w/ good money had a teenage crew member.  He was from Fort Worth, TX. His name was Bill Paxton and he became a lifelong friend. Bill had a paper route for the L.A. Times. He had been working on a film as a set dresser when Jack hired him. Jack, Sissy & Bill all became friends on the set of 'Darktown Strutters'.

Brian DePalma loved working w/ Jack. He hired him as art director for his adaptation for a Stephen King novel called 'Carrie'. Every young actor in town really wanted this role of title character, Carrie White. Sissy was 25. Brian and the studio wanted differently. They didn't even want to give Sissy a screen test, because they had already decided on someone else. Brian argued w/ the studio for canceling Sissy's screen test. Sissy wanted this job so bad, she could taste it. Sissy stayed up all night and re-read the whole book. After her audition and screen test, Sissy eventually got the part. When Sissy officially came on-screen, the studio KNEW that they had met Carrie.

Sissy kept to herself, separate in dark corners, of the soundstage while everyone else had fun. Jack was having a great time designing the sets for the film. Brian DePalma loved Jack's work. Bill Paxton was busy fashioning and painting decorations for the freshly built high school gym set. The bucket of ICONIC pig's blood for the ICONIC prom scene had Karo syrup and red food dye. It was so sticky, Sissy began to feel like a candy apple. The film was Brian's first blockbuster. It earned an Academy Award nomination for Piper Laurie and Sissy - something unheard of for a horror film. After the film's release, Sissy was EVERYWHERE.
Sissy's next film was for '3 Women'. When Five the dog died from complications to a broken leg from years prior, it shattered Sissy and Jack.

Loretta Lynn 1980s
In 1977, Sissy heard word that LEGENDARY country singer, Loretta Lynn, began telling the world that Sissy was going to play her in a movie based on her autobiography, Coal Miner's Daughter. Sissy was dumbfounded because she had NEVER met Loretta let alone agreed to do the film. Loretta wouldn't take no for an answer. Universal Studios had shown Loretta a stack of 8x10 of young actresses. When Loretta got down to a young little ol' strawberry blonde w/ a freckled face, Sissy, that was Loretta. Loretta began announcing it all of the talk show circuit. It drove Sissy crazy because Loretta would mention the film and Sissy in the role. Finally Sissy couldn't take it anymore. She decided to tell Loretta in person that she didn't want to do to the film and for Loretta to stop saying she was. When Loretta was performing in Louisiana, Sissy & Jack were in Texas and took the drive to her concert to meet her face-to-face. Sissy's brother, Ed, arranged the meeting. They missed the concert, bu found Loretta's tour bus in the back of the auditorium and were invited on-board.

All of a sudden, the bus door flew open and out stormed a tiny woman in a flaming chiffon dress. She was angry and shaking her fists and yelling. Right then Sissy changed her mind and HAD to play Loretta. Sissy was captivated. Sissy felt at home w/ her like she had known Loretta for years. Loretta was grounded and still a country girl at heart. Sissy still had misgivings about signing on for the film. By this time, Sissy HAD read the book and admired Loretta for what she overcame. Loretta's story was /is an AMERICAN LEGEND. Sissy HONESTLY wasn't sure she could play a REAL person who was still living & working. The original casting director didn't want Sissy for the film based on looks. But Loretta wasn't about to drop the subject.


About this time, Sissy hadn't worked in 2 years since 3 Women. Sissy was careful w/ her next selection. She wanted to play a grown-up. She didn't want to be typecast as a teenager. That's where the film 'Heart Beat' came in. Meanwhile Sissy was still being pressured by Universal Studios to sign on for Coal Miner's Daughter, despite the director at the time. Sissy waited for a sign. After taking a drive w/ Jack that night and had the radio on. Sissy began began to hear the refrain of Coal Miner's Daughter and that was sign enough. She was doing the movie.

Meanwhile the director was replaced. Sissy & the producers began looking for a new director. The one that TRULY caught their eye was Michael Apted, who came from a coal mining area in England. He would bring reality to the film and not make it a joke and cartoonish. Sissy began following Loretta like a puppy to capture who is. Loretta had Sissy LAUGHING half the time. They used REAL stories that TRULY happened in the script. Ex. = a fan cutting Loretta's hair. Sissy would listen to recorded tapes over-and-over of Loretta's voice until she could make her own version vocally. Once she GOT Loretta, Sissy stayed in character ALL THE TIME on-and-off the set. Sissy KNEW she had it when their dog would respond to Sissy in her "Loretta" voice.

Loretta herself was the one who encouraged Universal Studios to let Sissy do all of the music for the film. So, thanks to her start a singer, Sissy sang. Sissy spent a week w/ Loretta in a hotel writing and posting songs on scraps of paper & fasten them to lampshades LEARNING how to become Loretta musically. Sissy didn't want to do anything that would embarrass Loretta herself. Finally, Loretta made the ultimate gesture of Faith: she invited Sissy to sing w/ her at the Grand Ole Opry. Sissy was SCARED & INTIMIDATED. She was FROZEN. Doolittle Lynn had to push Sissy out on-stage just the way he had done for Loretta in the past. You HONESTLY couldn't tell when Loretta stopped and Sissy began. Loretta told Sissy "that she NEVER forgets that it was the fans that gave her a career." Loretta and Sissy became as close as sisters thanks to their bond over their roots. Loretta's support was crucial for Sissy. Her support & love was what made this happen. 

Michael Apted had the idea to cast Tommy Lee Jones as Doolittle. Tommy Lee had the idea to bring in Levon Helm to play Loretta's dad, Ted. To play Loretta's mom, Clary, Levon recommended the mountain singer, Phyllis Boyens, who made her feature film debut. It took awhile but Doolittle & Tommy eventually gave Tommy Lee training for the film. Sissy, Tommy Lee & the settings made the film REAL. Sissy gives stories that happened on the set of the film. What they had used for that film was REAL for the project, including the locations. Sissy's parents struck up a friendship w/ Ernest Tubb. After the movies release, Sissy's hometown of Quitman declared 5-31-1980 Sissy Spacek Day. Deciding to do Coal Miner's Daughter changed Sissy's life. Loretta sat in the audience at the Academy Awards. Loretta & Sissy both felt like Tommy Lee DESERVED a recognition. The Oscar recognition made Sissy a movie star. The film's success transformed Sissy & Loretta's lives. Loretta says today she CAN NOT watch the film - at all. There is TOO MUCH REAL THROUGHOUT  it's ENTIRETY. Now Sissy was faced w/ what to do concerning her career.

Gloria Swanson
Sissy loves to make films, the only bother is the CONSTANT press w/ the SAME EXACT questions over-and-over again. When Sissy did a talk show, she had the opportunity to meet ICONIC screen LEGEND Gloria Swanson. She was there to promote her memoir. Gloria could see how EXHAUSTED Sissy was and was concerned that Sissy was in NO SHAPE to do the talk show. When Sissy was being introduced to go on-stage, she felt like she was watching TV w/ no sound. She could see the host's lips move, but couldn't hear the question. Sissy was TOO FAR gone.When she called her mom to tell her what's going on, Sissy's mom put things into perspective. She seen everything in a different light. Sissy was actually GRATEFUL & APPRECIATIVE of the ENTIRE trip, including taking advantage of what South America had to offer. Once Sissy reached her thirties, she APPRECIATED her mom more than ever. Sissy's mom became a confident and a friend.

This time period, things had changed. The sixties & seventies were DEFINITELY over. They were no longer nonchalant about nude scenes. For the film Raggedy Man, Sissy drew on what she knew about Jack's mom, used her own mother's spirit and gestures to create the character. Sissy's ENTIRE performance in that movie was an homage to her mom. The day after winning the Oscar for 'Coal Miner's Daughter', Sissy flew off to Mexico to film the movie 'Missing' that was based on a TRUE story. Sissy needed a lot of hugs during the film because it was emotionally exhausting, trying to imagine what these people were feeling. Sissy worried herself sick. Sissy became friends w/ the REAL family in which the REAL story of 'Missing' is based. She has kept in touch w/ the TRUE/REAL person in which Sissy portrayed.

Sissy's mom had become SERIOUSLY ill. She was undergoing treatment when Sissy was accepting her Oscar. She wanted to be w/ her mom for as long as possible. In November 1981, Sissy's mom took a turn for the worse. That morning she was taken to the hospital, she was walking and remembering what she LOVED best about home - taking it all in. She took a breath and turned to go. Sissy found out she was pregnant the week her mom died. When Sissy found out she was pregnant, she prepared for it like it was a film role. When Sissy was pregnant, she didn't have morning sickness and craved watermelon & pineapple.

The 'Coal Miner's Daughter' album w/ Sissy and Beverly D'Angelo doing their own singing sold well. Sissy was offered w/ a dream come true - to record her own album. Making the record was a high point in her career. Schuyler (pronounced Skyler) has grown up to be a fabulous singer/songwriter. Jack & Sissy decided on their daughter's name LONG AGO after a town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. When the time came for labor & delivery, Sissy was WRONG after reading what she was to expect. Sissy was SHOCKED how much something could hurt w/o killing you. Everytime a pain came, Sissy WANTED to scream & cuss. She couldn't in her dad's presence. She ACTED fine. Sissy WANTED a NATURAL childbirth, but things took too long. When they offered an epidural, she TOOK it. Schuyler was born on 7-8-1982. Sissy had to LEARN children are just who they are. The hardest part is letting go.

After learning she was pregnant w/ Schuyler, Sissy & Jack decided that the farm would be a quiet healthy place prepare for baby. So they spent more time up there. When they decided to move to Virginia for good, they wanted to live in small where their kids could have roots. Sissy wanted to live and raise her children in where she could know the name of the neighborhood grocery clerk, stretch her bare feet on the lawn and host her daughter's birthday parties. Living there in that commutative setting gave Sissy, Jack & the girls, Schuyler & Madison a sense of home. Schuyler & Madison became good riders on a horse. They rode in competitions and used their bedroom w/ ribbons. At the farm, the girls followed their mom and mostly used the horses for fun or transport.

Sissy says something in this book that I'm sure rings TRUE for alot of people: "It's a wonder that children survive their childhoods and that parents survive their children." Sissy confesses that she's always been a fainter. Something that runs in the family from her dad and is brought on by different triggers: such as pain or surprise.

For some reason, as soon as Sissy & the family moved to Virginia, the entertainment media decided she MUST HAVE retired. She couldn't convince them and kept on working. After a string of serious films, Sissy found it a relief to do a comedy like 'Crimes Of The Heart' in 1985. With great co-stars on-set, Jessica Lange, Diane Keaton & Tess Harper, there were NO divas on-set. Diane played w/ 3-yr-old Schuyler w/ her doctor's kit. In Virginia, Sissy lives in a place & town that hardly exists in the world anymore: A place where neighbors & people don't do for each other anymore without wanting their's first. Just for neighborly niceness.

Sissy and both of her daughters
 In early 1988, Sissy found out she was pregnant again. Sissy wanted and called a recently good friend to be there when she gave birth who wanted to document it. During labor, Sissy was MEAN. After an hour later, Sissy & Jack scooped up their new daughter and went home. They named their daughter Virginia Madison Fisk Schuyler and her cousin considered Madison their personal plaything.


Madison was a tomboy. Schuyler was a born performer. She made her film debut in at age 7 in a dark comedy directed by her dad. It was called 'Daddy's Dying . . . Who's Got The Will?' With her goal to be a performer, Schuyler started small in school plays. She won a major role at the age of 11 in the film 'The Baby-Sitters Club'. Sissy's daughter's came along at just the right time in her life. She spent most of 1994 in Texas working on 2 projects, 'Secrets Of Laredo' and 'The Good Old Boys', which was Tommy Lee Jones' directorial debut! Madison wanted to be an extra in the film. Sissy dressed her and Madison had fun.

One of the best films/characters for grown women that Sissy found to be rich & nuanced was the character of Ruth Fowler  in the film 'In The Bedroom'. Sissy states that the most fun on films are when no one is getting rich and everyone is there for the right reason. They love their craft. Schuyler, who was 18 at the time, got her first experience in set decoration on that film. The most important thing Sissy did when arriving on location for the TRUE story 'The Straight Story' was meet the REAL person's daughter,  Alvin Straight's daughter, Diane, absorbing her voice and learning her body language.

After witnessing the scene of an accident that took a man's life right in front of her, it reminded Sissy not to take anyone/anything for granted. To live without regrets and enjoy every minute that we have. In his late years, Sissy cared for her dad up until his passing at 90 years old. There TRULY are valuable lessons everywhere in the world, but you have to be willing to learn and read the signs.

After attending college, Schuyler moved to L.A. She continues to act in films, but for the past few years, her energy goes into music w/ 2 released CD's. Sissy will sing w/ her or Schuyler will bring her mom in on a harmony while she performs. Madison started painting & sculpting in CA w/ a yearning to be an artist & filmmaker. She is paying her dues to her real goal: becoming an art director living in Texas. Madison's paintings are expressions of the world around her. When Sissy is HOME in Virginia, that's EXACTLY what it is without the glitzy and notoriety of Hollywood.  One of the best things Sissy has ever done in life came late: the author of 'To Kill A Mockingbird', Harper Lee, asked Sissy to read the audiobook version. Doing that made Sissy re-fall in love w/ the book & the movie all over again.

Sissy almost didn't do 'The Help'. She created her character, Missus Walters, from her father's sisters that she grew up with in Texas. In the summer of 2011, Sissy was honored, after 40 years w/ a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Jack worked on the film 'The Tree Of Life'. Sissy seen it and could barely control her emotions thanks to the setting & scenery of the film in Texas in 1950s. At the end of the film, Sissy was moved beyond words. The film spoke to her on a level so deep she wept. Sissy was grateful. Of all of the places she's been and the people she's met, Sissy's FAVORITE place in the world is:" a place where she can spend all day in the house in her pajamas puttering around the house". Their house is made to be LIVED in and it's their HOME. For the life she's led, through it all, Sissy is TRULY GRATEFUL!









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