What the Hell Happened to Kathleen Turner?

Kathleen Turner

Kathleen Turner

She started her career as the 80’s answer to a femme fatale.  She quickly became an international sex symbol.  At the peak of her career, Turner was a well-respected Academy Award nominee as well as a box office draw.  But the big parts slowed down and then she seemed to disappear from movie theaters entirely.

What the hell happened?

Kathleen Turner on stage - 1977

Kathleen Turner on stage – 1977

Turner started her career as a stage actress.  She moved to New York City in 1977 and took over the female lead for the off-Broadway play, Mister T.  I pity the fool that didn’t give her a standing ovation!  Future space man, Jonathan Frakes, co-starred.

Kathleen Turner - The Doctors - 1979

Kathleen Turner – The Doctors – 1977 – 1980

Later that year, Turner made her Broadway debut opposite Danny Aiello in the play Gemini.  At the same time she was appearing on Broadway, Turner made her TV debut on NBC’s soap opera, The Doctors.  She was the second actress to play the part of Nola Dancy Aldrich on the daytime drama.

Here’s a promo for the show.

In 1981, Turner made the leap to the big screen.

Kathleen Turner – Body Heat – 1981

The movie was Lawrence Kasdan’s 1981 thriller Body Heat co-starring William Hurt as a dumb attorney and Turner as the femme fatale who liked her men dumb.

The movie is set during a hot Florida heat wave.  Not the sticky, gross kind they have in real life but the kind they have in movies where everyone glistens and looks fabulous.  Hurt played a seedy lawyers who gets caught up in the sex tornado that was Turner.  The only problem is she’s married to a rich old man played by Richard Crenna.  All Hurt has to do is knock off the old man and Turner will be all his.  Not to mention she stands to inherit a fortune.  Mickey Rourke and Ted Danson appeared in supporting roles.

Turner had trouble even auditioning for the role because she had no prior movie experience.  But after Kim Basinger and Sigourney Weaver turned down the part, Turner finally got a reading:

“They gave me a copy of the script and I immediately wanted it. After that reading they set up a screen test with William Hurt. I’d never tested for a film before, and it was pretty scary . . . walking into a studio, having make-up men and everybody turn you into their idea of what Matty should be”.

In order to make the crew feel comfortable during the filming of Body Heat’s many steamy sex scenes, Hurt and Turner personally introduced themselves to every member of the crew.  When they did so, they were completely naked.

In her autobiography, Turner remembered Hurt’s hard-parting lifestyle:

In those days, he was pretty wild. He drank a great deal and took a lot of recreational drugs – he loved those magic mushrooms. He loved women, too; I don’t know how many he went through during filming. Bill always wanted to stay in character . . . [He] thought I wasn’t taking my acting seriously enough.

Although the movie was supposed to take place during a heat wave, it was actually shot in freezing cold.  The actors had to pretend to be sweltering when actually they were chilled to the bone.  In order to prevent their breath from fogging in the cold, Turner and Hurt would suck on ice cubes before speaking.  They also had to be sprayed down with water to simulate sweat.

Kathleen Turner - Body Heat - 1981

Kathleen Turner – Body Heat – 1981

Kasdan used a Steadicam for the famous scene in which Hurt hurls a chair through a window.  The Steadicam was still relatively new and it presented technical problems.  According to Turner, it kept breaking down:

We hear, ‘Cut! Wrap! The sun’s up.” We lost the whole night trying to get the shot. So at the height of passion, at the height of tension… we had to pick it up the next day. Talk about a cold shower.

Body Heat was a home run scoring with critics and audiences alike.  Turner was an overnight sensation.

turner - man with 2 brains

Kathleen Turner – The Man With Two Brains – 1983

Turner followed up Body Heat with the Steve Martin comedy, The Man With Two Brains in 1983.  Once again, Turner was a femme fatale, but this time she played the part for laughs.

Martin plays a brain surgeon who marries a gold digger played by Turner.  At a medical conference, Martin meets a colleague played by David Warner.  Warner has a collection of living brains he has treated with an experimental technique.  Martin discovers he can communicate telepathically with one of the brains in Warner’s collection (voiced by Sissy Spacek).  Soon, he realizes he is married to an evil woman in a sexy body but is in love with a beautiful woman with no body at all.  What is a guy who specializes in brain transplants to do?

Turner explained why she took the part:

“After Body Heat I got a lot of offers but none of the films were good enough. I wanted this part because it’s a comedy and because the character was so outrageous. I thought if I was very brave I could do some extraordinary things with it. It wasn’t a run of the mill token female role”.

The Man With Two Brains is the same kind of clever/stupid comedy that made Martin’s The Jerk a hit.  But it never managed to catch on with audiences.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out.  It’s criminally underrated and ridiculously quotable.

I don’t know why, but this line cracks me up every time.

As does the “citizen’s divorce”:

E pluribus unum!

Just watch it already.

Next: Romancing the Stone and Prizzi’s Honor

Posted on July 4, 2011, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 118 Comments.

  1. Hmmm…I actually thought Nic Cage was one of the few reasons it was worth seeing Peggy Sue Got Married. Maybe he was in a different movie than everybody else…a more entertaining one. But I never really cared for Turner much to begin with, and her character in that movie was self-involved in a way that did not elicit either sympathy or chuckles. In the end, I was more interested in what happened to the endearing dreaming fool Cage played.
    I’m often alone in my reactions to films.
    I am apparently the only person in the world who was disappointed that Turner’s character wasn’t dead at the end of Body Heat. I was quite fond of the idea that Hurt’s character had gone insane and had nothing to do in prison but to make up stories that kept her alive and exonerated him from his role in her death. A final scene showing Hurt desperately trying to convince his friend of his newest theory while his shattered sanity registers on hisfriend’s face appeals far more to me than the idea that the Turner character was just THAT good a scam artist.


    • Well, that’s the thing about Cage. He’s polarizing. I actually agree with you that he’s extremely watchable in the movie. And I wouldn’t mind seeing whatever movie Cage’s character was on loan from. It was probably crazy entertaining.

      As for Peggy Sue, well, Turner has never been very sympathetic on screen. So, that’s nothing new. I was personally lukewarm on the movie as a whole.

      Damn, I never thought of the end of Body Heat that way! It’s been forever since I’ve seen it and back then I thought the ending was perfect. But now I’m kind of liking your idea better!


    • Kathleen Turner in Peggy Sue Got Married:

      Kathleen Turner received her only Oscar nomination to date for playing Peggy Sue, a woman going back in time during her high school reunion in Francis Ford Coppola’s movie, Peggy Sue Got Married. Many thought that Turner was going to win the Oscar as she was a great star, previously snubbed many times. However, she had only won the NBR for Best Actress. I guess the thing why she didn’t win is that the role was too lightweight. I think she was either second or third. The Academy seeming didn’t like Kathleen Turner as much as the audiences at the time.

      Peggy Sue Got Married is too much like Back to the Future, except it’s much less original and it lacks the brilliant humor of the latter. It’s really one of the lesser efforts of Francis Ford Coppola. I mean how could you compare this to The Godfather trilogy, for example. I don’t like that he always gives roles to the members of the family as they are not that great actors, I think. Nicolas Cage is really weird as Peggy Sue’s (future) husband, Charlie. He’s way too mannered for me. This movie is quite interesting, though, and it’s mostly because we can see future stars and/or Oscar nominees in minor part (Jim Carrey, Joan Allen). Still, there are some great things about this movie and it’s quite entertaining.

      I haven’t seen many of Kathleen Turner’s movies but I think she’s a really great actress and she really has a great voice. I felt she was really great in Body Heat and Prizzi’s Honor and that she was brilliant as Chandler’s father on Friends. So I have only had good memories about her so I was really looking forward to watching the only movie for which she received an Oscar nomination. She was one of the biggest stars of the eighties and she got the best roles back then. I wonder why she isn’t that popular now.

      Turner’s performance in Peggy Sue Got Married really divides people. Some call it weak and insignificant, some say that Kathleen was robbed of the Oscar. Therefore, I was wondering what I would think about her. To tell the truth, I’m somewhere between those groups. While I think that she was really good as Peggy Sue, I don’t think that this really was Oscar-worthy material. It’s very entertaining and it serves its purpose well but I didn’t feel that she was really amazing.

      My first problem is that I didn’t see any development in Peggy Sue or if there was any, it didn’t make any sense. She always goes one step forward and goes two steps back and I never felt that Peggy Sue wasn’t going anywhere. First, she feels like going out with that weirdo kid and then she goes mad about Charlie and it’s all so strange and not really believable. I thought that the relationships were not very carefully developed and that’s also the fault of the director. I mean everything becomes so shallow and the real emotions are never present. Sometimes I felt the necessary emotions in Kathleen’s performance but somehow the whole thing never worked.

      Moreover, some humorous parts weren’t that well acted by Turner, either. There are so many missed opportunities and as a result, I started to feel quite uncomfortable. I felt that I cared about Peggy Sue but I wasn’t that excited about her. I mean the sympathy was there but not that much of it. I guess that’s another problem even though it didn’t bother me while I was watching the movie.

      The best scenes were the ones where Peggy Sue was visiting her grandparents. I felt that she handled those scenes the best. All the emotions were present and Kathleen handled them all very nicely. Moreover, the ending was quite touching and that was also quite good.

      Wow, I thought I’d like her more and yet I feel quite disappointed. When I started writing, I thought I was impressed but after taking a closer look at this performance, I found Kathleen Turner less than satisfying in Peggy Sue Got Married. This works looks really good on the outside but there are big problems that cannot be overlooked. Still, an enjoyable performance.


  2. Sadly, I think these femme fatales all share similar, unavoidable reasons as to “What the Hell Happened to” them. They all get old. Some of them get chubby too. Old and chubby. It’s unfair and we’ve talked about this before, but Sean Connery ages and he becomes “distinguished”. Kathy Turner just gets old and chubby, and nobody wants her anymore. A well-known Hollywood double standard.

    Look, I don’t want to be unfair to Val Kilmer. I like Val Kilmer. I really like the fact that Val Kilmer looks truly happy in every single fat photo you included during his 15 minutes of fame at LeBlog. And I’m not kidding, check it out. I see genuine happiness coming from a guy who was known for being an absolute nightmare to work with. So, I’m reading this Kathy Turner piece, and slowly scrolling down while I read, just knowing that the photo is coming…it never does! ; ) LeBeau, you published the infamous “Beached Val” photo that knocked me out of my chair when I first saw it! Yet you didn’t include one current photo of Kathy!?? Here:



  3. Sorry LeBeau, the first picture you posted is a current photo of Kathleen, and she looks happy. For whatever reason that photo wasn’t working when I posted.


    • You have got me on a bit of a double standard. I did lay into Val much more heavily then I did Kathleen. With Val Kilmer, I posted candid shots which was admittedly something of a low blow. With Kathleen Turner, the one fat picture I posted comes from Californication. So she was still at least made up.

      The reason for the double standard is pretty simple. I think the “beached Val” picture is freaking hysterical. Yet when I found out about Kathleen Turner’s illness, I felt bad for her and didn’t find the pictures to be as funny.

      Also, you pointed out that usually men and Hollywood are allowed to age more gracefully than women. So I try to even things out just a touch here. A pitcure of cat-like Meg Rya here, a picture of bloated Kathleen Turner there, and a full gallery of Val Kilmer in a wet suit! :)


  4. Some good information. I had no idea about her illness and that it contributed to her weight gain. Sadly, I’m sure the weight alone is the reason her roles dried up. If she was still hot in the 90s, she would have still gotten those femme fatale roles.

    Body Heat and Romancing the Stone will always be the movies I associate with Turner. They were her best roles and her sexy look along with that voice made her so irresistible that you can almost believe the plot of Body Heat!

    I also think that Undercover Blues is really underrated. As for Peggy Sue Got Married, it may have been a mediocre movie, but every time I hear the Beatles’ “She Loves You,” I think of the scene where Nicholas Cage changed all of the yeahs to oohs.


    • Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed it.

      I had been debating who to feature next and when I found out about the disease, I pushed Turner to the top of the list. Most of the time, it’s hard to find a good explanation of why someone’s career cooled off. It’s a variety of factors. Or, it’s a story everyone knows (such as Wesley Snipes who I haven’t gotten around to because everyone already knows what happened to him). So when I turned up an explanation of what happened to Kathleen Turner that included new (to me) information, that was exciting.

      Your summation of Turner’s body of work more or less matches my own.


    • 9 celebrities who haven’t aged well:

      Kathleen Turner

      Our Lady of the Husky Voice, Kathleen Turner, was the quintessential femme fatale of 1980s cinema, thanks in part to sultry turns in films of both the steamy noir melodrama and silly noir cartoon caper variety. Whether playing a freelance killer-for-hire or a part-time prostitute, this hardworking actress was a full-time sex symbol during her leading lady heyday.

      Yet Turner, a former gymnast who performed many of her own stunts, slipped off the Hollywood A-list in the 1990s after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. (One highlight during this era being her turn as deranged, recycling-conscious suburban Baltimore housewife Beverly Sutphin in John Waters’ 1994 black comedy, “Serial Mom.”) Turner turned to alcohol as a form of self-medication during her battle with the crippling disease. Eventually, Turner’s arthritis went into remission, and she cleaned up after a stint in rehab.

      Turner, now 57, rarely acts in films these days but has picked up occasional TV work (“Californication,” Nip/Tuck,” the obligatory episode of “Law & Order”) and appeared on stage as both Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and opposite Jason Biggs as Mrs. Robinson in the Broadway production of “The Graduate.” An active supporter of Planned Parenthood and Amnesty International, the fiercely intelligent and outspoken Turner wrote candidly about her struggles with rheumatoid arthritis, alcoholism and aging not-so-gracefully in youth-obsessed Hollywood in the 2008 memoir, “Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts On My Life, Love and Leading Roles.” As pointed out in a profile of Turner published by The Guardian after the release of the book, the actress hasn’t undergone any cosmetic surgeries and can “eat a hefty BLT without even so much as a hint of mayo-induced panic.” We like your style, Kathleen.


      • What happened to Kathleen Turner?


        For anyone who loved Romancing the Stone and especially Kathleen Turner in her role as romance author Joan Wilder (The Joan Wilder?), you were likely as shocked as I was when I saw her recently on Californication. Now, make no mistake, she does a fantastic acting job as Sue Collini, the super-high sex-drive, no-nonsense and perverse agent, though Kathleen has always done a good job with no-nonsense roles, but she looks so…well let’s just say it, she looks like a post-op professional wrestler who was always a woman on the inside. She was gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous and sexy and totally do-able. Does everyone remember Body Heat? Damn. I get warm just thinking about it. Now, she looks like a man with a wig.

        Now I have to say here, I actually mean no disrespect. I really like and admire Kathleen Turner and her long, impressive and varied acting career. “I don’t mean to be bad, I’m just drawn that way,” is one of my favorite lines to quote from a movie, ever. Kathleen’s breathy-voice delivering that line as Jessica Rabbit in Roger Rabbit was superb. The voice has mostly stayed, but what happened to face? To her body?

        Well, after some digging online, I realized Kathleen Turner, who is obviously a very physical person, and did a lot of her own stunts in films like Romancing the Stone, suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis and found that in addition to her medication for the arthritis (which was most likely steroids), the alcohol helped to numb the pain. Too many steroids and too much alcohol translates into too much testosterone, and puffiness, and a very feminine, athletic, trim woman puffs up. If you want more details, I found an excerpt online of Kathleen Turner’s book Send Yourself Roses. Kathleen Turner reveals her descent into alcoholism.

        Now as shocking as the change in her appearance is, I vociferously applaud Kathleen Turner for not surgically altering her appearance. Brava, Kathleen! She’s also not hiding out in the French Riviera. She’s acting on television, stage and film still, even though I suspect sometimes she doesn’t recognize herself as the person she once was…

        So I guess the moral here, the thing we can all learn from Kathleen Turner, is to be yourself and then be yourself some more. Even if that means you look drastically different than in your hey-day. Hey-days can’t last forever, or else they wouldn’t be hey-days. So get out there, do your thing, and give the proverbial finger to anyone (myself included if Ms. Turner is so inclined) to any nay-sayers. Plastic surgery just makes people look like teflon-skinned aliens. If they don’t look like that immediately post-op, they definitely look that way within 10 years.

        Plus, lucky for all of us, we can still memorialize Kathleen in her old movies. Her trade-mark sass, by the way, hasn’t morphed a bit, except for the predictable sass-maturation that is inevitable in an intelligent, talented, and iconic actress such as Kathleen Turner.


  5. It seems that Michael Douglas has a reasonably successful career up until Romancing The Stone. Won an academy ward as a producer for One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, China Syndrome, Coma.


    • You’re right that he was a success story in Hollywood. Even without Romancing the Stone, he had been a reasonably successful actor. He had escaped his father’s shadow. But I think the way his career was going, he looked more promising as a producer than a leading man. The success of Romancing the Stone put him on the a-list as a leading man.


  6. I miss mrs katleen in the holywood hope she’s coming back and ill watch her movie


  7. Hi, I’ve had RA since age 5 and I’m about Kathleen’s age now. I didn’t know she’d developed it – I’m glad she looks happy in that photo. Happy is hard to attain and maintain when you’re in pain 24/7/365. (Er, sorry, I didn’t mean that to rhyme!) I’ve learned to pretty much live with it, since I don’t remember what life is like without it. I feel for adults who are living life full-bore then run into the brick wall called RA. It’s much tougher to adjust when you’re older. Hats off to her!


  8. Her medical issue, her age, slow metabolism and not being active… that’s the bottom line


  9. What happened to Kathleen Turner was crippling rhuematoid (or however you spell it) arthritis. So get off her case.


  10. I’ve just re-read everything here, and I don’t feel like the overall tone is unfair or unsympathetic to Kathleen Turner.


    • I think a lot of fans tend to be put off by the title of the “What the Hell Happened” series. Which is understandable. I’m guessing Me-You didn’t actually read the article and just assumed based on the title and the picture what the content would be.


      • I think you must right that some people tend to skim rather than read the full article, because as far as I’m concerned you’re always scrupulously fair!


        • You guys are too kind.

          Obviously, I have a little fun at the expense of the celebs I write about. But I do make an effort to be fair.

          Aside from Sean Young, I haven’t heard any complaints from any of my subjects so far…


      • A lot of fans…and Sean Young.


  11. Here’s the thing. You mentioned her having Rheumatoid Arthritis and immediately dismissed it by saying it went into remission. There is NO true remission with RA. Advances in medical research and treatment for this disease have greatly improved in the past several years, however prior to 2000, options were extremely limited. If she was diagnosed in ’92, I can guarantee she went through hell.

    Chronic systemic pain effects the whole person, mind, body & soul. It ages you, it is exhausting, and sometimes you have little control over your outward appearance or physical changes that may take place as a result of having the disease and/or taking medications to contain inflammation and pain. Prednisone is often prescribed to help treat inflammation and pain, and side effects include weight gain, “moon face”, loss of bone density, among other things. Ms. Turner’s appearance today could certainly indicate use of this medication.

    Rheumatoid Arthritis not only affects joints and tissue, it can have very damaging affects on vital organs like the heart and lungs. It is a ruthless, horrible disease. There is nothing humorous about what it does to a person. I wonder if you would choose an actor who has had cancer and ask “what the hell happened to…?”

    And, yes, cancer happens to be one of the side effects of some of the most recently developed and highly touted drugs used to treat RA in today’s world. Most of us who have RA consider it worth the risk to take these medications so that we can attempt to actually have some chance of “normalcy” in the way we live.

    I don’t mean to sound defensive or angry. I am not. However, I do think it is careless to mention a serious health condition and then blow it off, all in the name of creating a snarky blog. A little bit of research prior to writing might persuade you to pick a different target….


    • If an A-list performer had cancer and it wasn’t widely known, I would certainly find myself asking what had happened to them if their career had declined noticably. I would then be very glad to know about the cancer.
      This is what happened when I read this article about Ms. Turner. I did not know about her illness. Now I do. It seems that the article did its job.


    • Thanks for reading and sharing your perspective. I’m sorry you didn’t like the article for it’s tone. But I don’t feel it is disrespectful to Kathleen Turner or people with RA.

      The article isn’t about RA, it’s about Kathleen Turner’s career. I did feel the need to mention her disease as it clearly had an impact on her career trajectory. The fact that she continued working is an incredible feat. And she managed to keep it a secret all along. There’s a great survivor story in there. But this article isn’t about that. It’s a brief sketch of the highs and lows of a spectacular and all-too-short Hollywood career.

      Turner herself describes her RA as being in remission. So, I’m just using her words. No offense was intended. But I am glad you were willing to elaborate here in the comments section. It helps put things in perspective.

      Having said that, I am glad I chose Turner as a subject for this article. If you read through the comments section, a number of people learned of Turner’s illness here. They were wondering what the hell happened to one of their favorite actresses. Now, they know.


      • I did not see it as disrespectful. Her voice betrays one who smokes way too much. It’s not so much her appearance that is troubling. People age and that is OK. Society is to blame for not accepting that. But her voice is the disturbing part.


        • I have to admit. The husky voice always did something for me. I think it’s the femme fatale connection. Or maybe it’s seeing Body Heat at a relatively formative age. There was a time when everything about Kathleen Turner screamed “sex” to me. Including the voice.


  12. Got it, and thanks for the reply. I do understand the purpose of your blog and I know it isn’t to explain diseases. I have no real reason to defend her, but RA is one of those “invisible illnesses” where you go out in the world and do your best not to let it show. I imagine the need to do this in Hollywood is magnified a million percent, especially if you want to work. She does seem to have made the best of a difficult life experience. I admire that courage.


    • From what I have read, that is the case. Especially 20 years ago when Turner was dealing with her illness and her career. She said she preferred for people to think she was a drunk because Hollywood will hire drunks. But if a casting director found out she was sick, she wouldn’t get the job. As with the majority of the actors I have profiled, Turner’s story is really a success story. Sure, she fell from great heights. But she is still a successful actress who gets a lot of work. I have to think that is very satisfying. She has overcome a great deal.

      Anyway, thanks again for coming in and sharing your perspective. It is appreciated.


      • It is bit disturbing to see her in Californication- but- she is FANTASTIC in it! She has great comedic chops and I hope she gets enough roles to show them off-

        Yeah- I was totally in love with her back in the Eighties- probably more than all the Brat Pack women combined.


        • Me too. Is that weird? As a teen, I didn’t really crush on actresses my own age. I was more interested in older women like Turner. The Brat Pack girls didn’t really interest me.




  14. BTW, Turner’s comments about being a “Drunk” in Hollywood not costing you jobs is true to a point: Richard Pryor kept his illness secret and kept doing shitty movie after shitty movie because (1) he knew he couldn’t tour doing stand-up anymore [and was likely tired of it], and (2) he knew he wouldn’t get hired/insured because of his MS. He also needed the money badly.

    Keep the articles going–I would suggest Christian Slater, who had A-lister written all over him during the early 90s, and especially Jean Claude Van Damme, who’s still releasing direct-to-video stuff that actually deserves a shot. Not to mention he’ll be the heavy in the new Stallone flick.


    • Thanks for the kind words. Glad you’re enjoying the articles. Great point about Pryor!

      Terrific suggestions. Both Van Damme and Slater are on my list, but they are relatively low down. In the next week or so, I hope to start the next installment of WTHH. And I like to come back from a hiatus with a big name. The subject I have in mind next is one of the biggest I’ve ever done.


      • I’m enjoying the articles too. I like your writing style. It’s got a similar cheerful snarkiness to the X-Entertainment Blog. And you have a real good sense of what kind of cultural impact movies have had which isn’t often discussed in criticism.

        I’d be interested in seeing a “Director’s Edition” of “What the Hell Happened to…?” Mainly because I can think of one great candidate, John McTiernan. He kicked off 3 major movie series that are still widely known today, then did a lot of bombs and ended up in jail. What the hell happened to this guy?


        • Funny, I was thinking the same thing about McTiernan the other day.

          I have thought about including directors in the WTHH series. But I have kind of unofficially devoted the Betrayed By articles to them. Although to date, I have only done two directors, Spielberg and Kevin Smith.

          I don’t think I have seen your blog. Post a link and I’ll add it to my blogroll.


    • 10 Actors Who Are Nowhere Near As Great As They Used To Be:

      9. Jean Claude Van Damme

      Once there was a time when all audiences wanted to see was Chuck Norris giving a spinning roundhouse kick to some guy in the face. Then audiences evolved so that we wanted to see a guy do the splits and kick two guys in the face simultaneously. Jean Claude Van Damme did that (JCVD to his friends) to a great extent in the late eighties and early nineties. Taking the less talk/more action route of such action luminaries before him as Schwarzenegger and Stallone, he broke out in 1988′s Bloodsport, followed that by Kickboxer (aka Bloodsport 2) then a series of action movies that involved mullets, kicking people in the face and co-starring with himself. Much like the attempts to explain his Belgian accent as the product of the Louisiana bayou or French-Canadian parents became tired, so too did the audience.

      So what happened?

      Sometime in the mid-nineties, after the creative peak of the cult Time Cop and his guest role as himself in Friends in 1996, he fell into a pile of cocaine and failed to find his way out until years later. Rumors abounded of his $10,000 a week cocaine habit in ’96. It was so bad he co-starred with Dennis Rodman in Double Team (a sports reference, not a porn one).

      A short-lived stay in rehab did nothing and although he has managed to continue a steady string of straight-to-video movies and the critically acclaimed JCVD in 2008, he is steadily trying to build a path back towards respectability. Despite bowing out of The Expendables in 2009, he signed on for the sequel finally giving us all a chance to see JCVD and Sly fist to face. However, roles will remain scarce as long as he avoids joining the Screen Actors Guild, regulating him to Gerald Depardieu status.


      • They Believed The Hype (And It Blew Up In Their Face): 15 Celebrities Whose Careers Were Hurt By Hubris:

        Jean-Claude Van Damme’s action movie career piqued in 1994 with Time Cop. The science fiction actioner was a box office sensation and netted over a hundred million at the box office from a budget of less than $30 million. On the heels of this success, Van Damme was offered a whopping $12 million studio deal. In a moment of hubris Van Damme turned it down and requested $20 million instead, hoping to match superstar comedian Jim Carrey. Looking back Van Damme has scorned himself for buying into the hype: “Jim Carrey was being paid a fortune. And I wanted to play with the system. Like an idiot. Ridiculous.” He hung on as a Hollywood action hero until the late 90s before being retired to the straight-to-video circuit.


  15. In Kim B’s comments you doubted that any of your featured talent would be remembered for their work 100 years from now. If one of them should prove you wrong, I hope it’s Kathleen Turner. She ruled Hollywood in the 80’s/early 90’s and deserved to; the woman has talent to burn. I’m sorry that she’s (been) ill. Beyond that I don’t care what size she is, what she sounds like, whether she smokes or quit, etc. I just hope she’s happy. Fact is, she’s gifted us many hours of quality screen time and I’m grateful for any artist who can do that. If just 5% of them were as consistant as KT, we wouldn’t have to endure nearly so many turkeys.


  16. “Body Heat” was an outstanding movie, not only because of the intense on-screen chemistry between Hurt and Turner, but due to the amazing twists and turns of the entire story. I, too, thought the ending of this movie was lame, a little Hollywood hokey. Remembertheredskins’ idea would’ve been just great.
    “Romancing the Stone,” “Peggy Sue Got Married” (yes, Nic Cage was very good in this but I agree with you, why did he affect that stupid voice?) and “War of the Roses” were truly enjoyable Turner vehicles. Turner was just so-so in “Accidental Tourist” – again teamed with Hurt, a movie I particularly loved because it was filmed in my hometown. Geena Davis sparkled and deserved the Oscar, even though many of us were disappointed that none of the actors in this film attempted a Baltimore accent (which Tracey Ullman once described as a “Liverpool accent Americanized”). Turner lived and went to college in Maryland for awhile; she was certainly familiar with the accent and least she would’ve stood out a bit more in her role as a disenchanted ex-wife. After these films, Turner seemed conceited; it was evident in her acting and in her interviews, even sometimes talking of herself in the third person. I lost interest. Like Lauren Bacall, also a chain smoker, sadly smoking took its toll on Turner’s once beautiful voice.


    • I saw Body Heat at a young age. I saw it on TV, so it was sanitized. But the plot twists blew my young mind. I loved everything about it. So I am very forgiving of its flaws even today.

      Turner had a rep for being arrogant and off-putting in her prime. I can’t remember if I included this story in the article or not, but she reportedly pissed off Lauren Bacall by introducing herself as “you, but younger”. I do think that life has humbled her. In recent interviews, she comes across as far more likeable. I think given what she has been through, a lot of people admire her strength.


  17. It’s sad that she has suffered such a terrible illness. Turner is very talented but Hollywood does not hire many (men or women) who are overweight (plus her voice is shot). Turner should take pride in the volume of work she has done and in her beautiful daughter. Here’s hoping Turner is living a comfortable life like Keaton and Pfeiffer. What an odd thing to say to Bacall. Maybe she was nervous when she met Bacall or was just trying to be sarcastic and was taken wrong.


    • She is doing good work on the stage. And she has been getting TV work as well. She seems to be doing all right these days. Fact of the matter is, Val Kilmer and Sean Young aside, most everyone I have written about is living well.

      The comment to Bacall was certainly a joke. After Body Heat, people were calling her the young Lauren Bacall quite a bit. I am guessing Turner was sick of hearing it. But making a crack about it to Lauren Bacall probably wasn’t the wisest move.


  18. From great films like “Body Heat,” “Romancing the Stone,” “Prizzi’s Honor,” & “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”….to playing Chandler’s dad on the most overrated sitcom ever!!
    If the term “How the mighty have fallen” applies to anyone, it’s Kathleen Turner.


    • This was one of those articles where I had forgotten how big of a star she was. Turner had an incredible winning streal for a while there. It really is amazing how quickly she was forgotten once she was off the big screen.


  19. I ran into Kathleen Turner in a restaurant near the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. She walked in with a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows under her arm. She was sitting alone at the bar but graciously signed a napkin for me. I actually saw her again later that night; we were both at a Williamstown Theatre Festival production, an unmemorable show called Party Come Here (notable only for starring Hunter Foster, Sutton Foster’s older brother). Turner was probably scoping the place out because she was about to direct Crimes of the Heart there. It was a very interesting day for me, to say the least.


    • I am jealous. People say I am mean to Turner in this article, but I am really a fan. I had an autographed photo of her when I was a kid. It seems like she is doing well these days, which is great news.


  20. So what happened after the early 90’s? Just seen her in Californication looking like a seriously masculine transvestite. Not just old but really large and her face looks like some serious work has been done and failed


  21. Reading the section regarding Christopher Reeve, I wonder if his career just prior to his horrible horseback riding accident is “What the Hell Happened to…” worth? Reeve in his autobiography said that he believed that “Switching Channels” was the movie that officially knocked him off of the A-list (and he had to audition for roles for the remainder of his career).

    Here’s a link to this particular discussion to get a better perspective:

    In reply #8, it was argued that Reeve purposely avoiding action and/or fantasy type roles post-Superman wound up costing him in the end. This was especially damning because by the late ’70s and on through the ’80s, you can make the argument that action movies reached a whole other level. Meanwhile, seriously dramas weren’t so memorable unless they were directed by somebody like say, Martin Scorsese (who normally hired his “own guys” anyway). It wasn’t like Reeve could simply do indie flicks like known actors may do now.

    Even when he did “Street Smart” (which he agreed to do “Superman IV” under the condition that the Cannon Group, who purchased the film rights to the Superman franchise from the Salkinds, funded his pet project in “Street Smart”), you can argue that his style (Reeve had a rather warm charisma about him at least based on his performances as Superman) seriously clashed w/ that of the very intense Morgan Freeman, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role. I recall in Leonard Maltin’s review of “Street Smart” that Chris Reeve was very bland in the lead role when compared to Morgan Freeman’s powerhouse performance.

    Therefore, had Chris Reeve simply embraced his as an action-adventure hero, he could’ve in the process, made a ton of money, and therefore as top actor, pick that he wanted.

    I’m kind of surprised that that when Reeve appeared in “Speechless” w/ Michael Keaton, not much was made about the fact that Batman and Superman were going to be in the same movie together. I’m willing to bet that the movie would’ve made some more money at the box office had they played up that fact instead of thinking that the casual public simply wanted to see an “opposites attract” romantic comedy w/ Michael Keaton and Geena Davis.


  22. FRC’s Fallen Icon #8 – Kathleen Turner:

    When we hit the ‘90s that is when we start to see Kathleen’s career start to slide…

    It all started with V.I. Warshawski. This was a series of mysteries especially written for the star, to give her a relaunch. Even though the movie was a bomb with all the critics, Turner was surprisingly good.

    In 1993 while she starred with Dennis Quaid in a comedy, Undercover blues, she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. She was told that she may be wheelchair bound. Sometimes the pain was so bad that she could hardly move. Add the fact that she used to take the huge amount of pain killers prescribed with large amounts of alcohol and her appearance started to change. No longer was she being offered the sexy roles, she was now the older woman.

    Although her disease has calmed down her abuse of alcohol didn’t. She gained a lot of weight and even though she is still seen in small roles, Virgin Suicides, Marley and Me, Friends, for instance, her days as a leading lady seem to be over.

    Where did it go wrong?

    Well it seems that the dreaded drink and illness have a lot to answer for, but she also had a reputation as being very feisty and hard to work with.


  23. Re: Chris Reeve:

    I agree he was deathly afraid of being typecast, but the fact is, he was both fantastic as Superman and very limited as an actor. Strange catch-22. His range wasn’t the greatest.

    Cuba Gooding Jr. claimed in an interview that he was blessed and cursed by his success with “Jerry Macguire”, but he surely deserves some of the blame for believing that he could pull off being Robin William’s son in “What Dreams May Come”. He too, was typecast as the “Show Me The Money” guy.


    • I remember watching John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned and being horrified. The movie was so bad it was scary. Worse still, Reeve was in way over his head. The ending required an emotional outburst and Reeve was so wooden. I realized how limited his range was.


  24. I paid to see VI Warshawski so you’re not the only one. I adored Kathleen Turner in the 80s and saw everything she did. Crimes of Passion is my favorite Turner film. Great dialogue between Anthony Perkins as The Reverend Peter Shane and Turner’s China Blue. I even bought the soundtrack which is based on Dvorak’s New World Symphony.

    I wish she’d work more. She was the only decent thing in that godawful Californication show.


    • Does anybody else agree that “V.I. Warshawski” was Kathleen Turner’s so-called “star derailing role”:

      V.I. Warshawski seems to be a dividing line in Kathleen Turner’s career. Before, she’d been riding the success of Body Heat and Romancing the Stone to critical and commercial success (and award nominations) in films like Prizzis Honor, Peggy Sue Got Married and The War of the Roses. Along the way, though, her rheumatoid arthritis worsened and she developed a drinking problem and a reputation for being difficult to work with. After Warshawski failed to launch a series of movies based on the other books in the series, which she expected to star in, Turner was a lead in three more films (House of Cards, Undercover Blues, Moonlight and Valentino), none of which set the screen on fire, then did Serial Mom and later A Simple Wish and Baby Geniuses. Since then she’s accepted mainly supporting roles in smaller films and drifted into TV work.


    • I don’t know much about Perkins’ personal life. I nay have to read up.

      I remember watching Crimes of Passion on video with a high school chum. We fancied ourselves cinema afficienados. We were both very impressed with the audacity of the film, but couldn’t help snickering in parts.


  25. Good article, as always. A bit sad Kathleen Turner is contending with health issues because she brought a lot of laughs to the late 80s.

    She and Willis had the best onscreen “thing” going in Moonlighting. Course that was TV not movies but she still memorized a lot of rapid fire dialogue AND her flair for wacky comedy almost reminded me of Lucille Ball at times.


  26. Uhhh…that was Cybill Shephard on Moonlighting, NOT Kathleen Turner…


  27. Oops…flu taking a heavy toll, i must be delirious. Sorry, and you are so right. Wish i could remove the comment.
    i’m watching a Moonlighting clip on Youtube right now and can’t believe i got that wrong. Thanks for setting me straight.


  28. After viewing more clips from both, can’t believe how i screwed that up…..
    I also remember Cybill from one of my favorite movies, “Chances Are”, costarring Ryan o’Neal and Robert Downey, Jr. Not sure what the critical reception was. I love it and highly recommend. Shows up on cable every now and then.
    “Switching Channels” was definitely not treated kindly by critics but I saw it at the theatre and enjoyed it. If Turner and Reynolds hated each other then THAT dynamic made the opening scene all the more humorous.
    I thought that Turner contributed more screen charisma than Reynolds. “Peggy Sue” was a slam dunk for Turner and Cage.
    Same goes for Turner, Douglas and DeVito in “War of the Roses.” When did anyone laugh so hard at a dark comedy?
    But Moonlighting, wow, I was so wrong. I did remember correctly that it was an excellent series, and Cybill Shepherd did go on to do movies.. so…. what happened to her?


    • I was a big Moonlight fan. As a teen, I had autographed pictures of both Turner and Shepherd adorning my walls. Kind of embarssed to admit that now, but it’s true.

      Shepherd continued to work in TV. She had a reasonably successful show called Cybil in th 90s. She had some pretty famous feuds including one with Willis.

      Even if Turner wasn’t in Moonlighting, she definitely had great comic timing. Check out Undercover Blues. It’s hysterical.


      • I will probably get around to Shepherd eventually. The thing is, she is primarily known as a Tv actress. She has made some good movies, but that was a long time ago. And she was basically just a model in a lot of those early movies. But I am sure I will feature her at some point. With Preston, I am interested in why she never made it to the big time. Sort of like Jason Patrick.


  29. I just saw that Billy Ocean video! Wow! Part of what was going on was that the art of music videos was in its infancy. Despite earlier artists like the Beatles and David Bowie showing how it should be done years in advance, many artists and directors struggled to figure out the new art form. This resulted in both some of the most amazing and remarkably inventive videos and some of the stupidest videos ever made. Believe it or not, folks, this one was only mildly stupid by 80s standards.

    btw, the Streep/Adams film is called Julie & Julia, so it’s not the same title.

    Also, I LOVE Amy Adams. But she really shouldn’t be playing Janis Joplin. If she pulls it off it will be quite an achievement.


    • I will admit that I loved that Billy Ocean video back in the day. I think I have confessed before that I don’t have the best taste in music. Heck, I still love it. The stupidity is part of its charm.

      Oh and thanks for the catch on Julia and Julia. I will have to go back and make the switch.


  30. Daffystardust, many of us college students from the very early 80s were glued to MTV. For one thing, it had almost no commercials, and of the commercials they had on, I remember for a while they had no sound! For another, it seemed that there was an explosion of new videos from all artists new and old. Like you said there was a fairly wide range of quality. And with it all being so new there were differing opinions on the quality. Commander Cody’s “Two Triple Cheese Side Order of Fries” would have been totally unknown were it not for the video. Some thought it amazing and inventive, and some thought it stupid.


  31. 15 Huge Stars Whose Playboy Spreads Were The Kiss Of Death:

    Kathleen Turner (May 1986): After her Playboy shoot Turner made only one more massive movie, The War of the Roses. (Her voiceover in Who Framed Roger Rabbit doesn’t count.) After that, it was V.I Warshawski, which grossed $11 million in 1991.


  32. 3 women who all played intelligent/sexy/strong roles at around the same time: Kathleen Turner, Cybill Shepherd and Candice Bergen.


    • Willis got all the credit for Moonlighting. Shepherd was a scapegoat for the show’s failure. She seemed more suited to TV than film. I was surprised when her TV career eventually stalled out.


      • I loved Moonlighting. It was my favorite show back in the day. Both Shepherd and Willis were tough to get along with. But Shepherd went out on maternity leave so Willis was seen as the hero continuing the show without her. Also, Shepherd fought with Willis and Glenn Gordon Caron, so it was 2 on 1.


      • I too used to love Moonlighting. Cybil Sheppard had a great presence on that show. The only movie that I can recall seeing her in was in Taxi Driver, which is one of the great films of the 70’s. I remember her having a self-named tv series in the mid-90’s that went on for awhile and was a respectable hit, but it just didn’t do for me what Moonlighting did. I guess Moonlighting was lightning in a bottle, regardless of the fact that Cybil Sheppard and Bruce Willis reportedly fought like cats and dogs on set, they had a great chemistry together on-screen.


        • I think the fighting was part of the chemistry.

          Shepherd was in a few really good movies. Other than Taxi Driver, she was in The Last Picture Show and The Heartbreak Kid. Check ’em out.

          Post Moonlighting, her movie career was a disaster.


        • Exactly. She was a model when her movie career was successful. It took TV to show her range.


  33. 10 Actors Bullied Into Roles They Never Wanted:

    4 & 3. Kathleen Turner & Michael Douglas – The Jewel of the Nile

    1984′s Romancing the Stone was undoubtedly one of the best films of that year, helping to launch Robert Zemeckis’ hugely successful career, as well as re-affirming Michael Douglas’ stature as a leading man and make Kathleen Turner someone everybody in Hollywood was talking about.

    Inevitably, the studio executives began seeing dollar signs and, aware that their two leads were contracted for a sequel should the studio so wish, they pressed ahead with the vastly inferior 1985 smash hit The Jewel of the Nile, which was nevertheless panned by many critics.

    Douglas and Turner were both pushed into taking the role, and when Turner attempted to back out, she was threatened with an enormous $25m lawsuit from Fox. At least they were in it together; the result isn’t great but it does benefit from their chemistry – had Turner been able to back out, one can only imagine that the film would have been a whole lot worse.


    • I have a feeling Douglas may have been negotiating. He ended up as the film’s producer. Turner was practically there at gunpoint.


      • Douglas was basically a more successful producer than actor before Romancing broke him out- he did One Flew Over a Cuckoos Nest IIRC.

        No doubt he could play those games better than Turner – probably still can.


  34. Nice post. I’m a huge fan of Kathleen, and I already knew all of the movies, and what happened in her personal life, and I think you were pretty objective. What’s important is she seems to be happy.

    If I had to choose, I’d probably say Crimes of Passion was my favorite of hers. She took that role to another level! A lot of actors will not touch stuff like that.


    • Thanks for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed the article.

      Man, Crimes of Passion was really something. I remember renting that movie with a friend of mine in high school and we were both just blown away. It was definitely a brave choice for Turner at that point in her career. And she hit the ball out of the park. It’s a strange movie that isn’t going to be for everyone. But definitely worth checking out if you’re interested in oddball movies.


      • Forgive me, I can’t remember if you read her book…but she mentioned her husband at the time being VERY upset at her for doing Crimes of Passion. She didn’t tell him anything about it until they first screened it with friends, and I guess he was wicked embarrassed. Ah well, I still think it was amazing.


        • I have not read her book. And I had not heard that about Crimes of Passion. I can see why if he did not know what the movie was about he would be less than thrilled watching it unspool at the premiere. It’s really sometrhing. It’s been a long time since I have watched it, but back in the day I watched and enjoyed it quite a few times. It’s a great movie for audiences who like movies that take chances.


  35. “In 1994, Turner starred in the John Waters comedy, Serial Mom. I think you either like John Waters or you don’t get him. Unfortunately, I’m in the latter camp. And I’m not alone. Serial Mom got mixed reviews and bombed at the box office.”

    I liked “Serial Mom”.

    There are really two John Waterses: the early, outrageous one who did all the low budget films with Divine, and the later one who was more “family friendly” and subdued.


    • What you say about Waters is true. If I’m being honest, I’ve never given Waters a fair viewing. I’ve tried watching a few of his movies including Serial Mom. But they just never grabbed me. Having said that, I probably could stand to give a few of his movies a second chance.


  36. Ten Hot Hollywood Women That Aged Horribly – Gunaxin Girls:

    2. Kathleen Turner

    Kathleen Tuner made her film debut in 1981 in the thriller, Body Heat, a role which would bring her international fame. She won Golden Globe awards for Romancing the Stone and Prizzi’s Honor. Empire Magazine named her one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History in 1995. With her deep, sultry voice, she was like a young Lauren Bacall, a natural femme fatale. In fact, her very being oozed a powerful, yet unintentional sexuality. Her fame grew, and she even gained a reputation for being quite a diva, with a rude and nasty sense of entitlement. But looking at her today, it is hard to believe she is only 56 years old. Her ancient-looking appearance is generally said to be due to a delightful mixture of her drinking, rheumatoid arthritis, and some poor genetics. She has personally blamed her bloated face on the type of steroid she takes to treat her painful arthritis. But as a result of her altered looks, The New York Times indicated that rumors were circulating that she was drinking heavily. Turner has had well-publicized problems with alcohol. Turner has claimed that due to her illness, she was in constant unbearable agony and that she was constantly drinking to relieve the pain. She eventually completed a stint in rehab to cure her alcohol addiction. But her love of drinking apparently reigns supreme, and word around New York is that she is still a loud mouth, nasty drunk in public. She looks like she’s been taking testosterone supplements in preparation for a sex change operation, but that obviously does not bother her one bit.


  37. She nailed “The Perfect Family”. Enjoyed her role in Californication. I wondered about the physical change…WTHH illuminated me on Turner’s RA. She’s A-list in my book.


  38. I’ve never forgotten how great (and sexy) Kathleen Turner was. She was awesome in “Crimes of Passion” (an odd film, totally dark, but she was ‘China Blue’).
    Hey, I viewed her in those “Californication” episodes; that was fun.


  39. I can’t believe that no one has mentioned Kathleen’s other movie with Michael Douglas, “War of the Roses”. There were some really funny parts in there, especially if you’ve ever been divorced! :)


    • Agreed Leanne, WOTR was very well done with plenty laughs, although, maybe I have the timeline wrong, also strikes me as one of the first real black comedies. Kathleen Turner was great in that movie, as was Douglas, and for that matter, one of Danny DeVito’s finer roles.


    • Oh, I liked “War of the Roses” (viewed it numerous times), “Romancing The Stone”, “The Man With two brains”, “Serial Mom”, “Body heat”, her appearance in the series “Californication” and numerous other films in her filmography; For some reason i personally focused on “Crimes of Passion”.


  40. Re: Kathleen Turner:

    Kathleen Turner has no subtext.

    She has a great voice and a fair amount of onstage charisma, but she can only manage one emotion at a time, and her stage performances are, in my estimation, competent.

    The revival of VIRGINIA WOOLF in which she starred with an equally uninteresting Bill Irwin had the unlikely effect of making you think the play was never all that good in the first place.

    And it’s one of my three favorite plays, so.

    by: Anonymous reply 46 07/08/2012 @ 08:41PM


  41. Derailed Film Stars: Retracing Kathleen Turner:

    Blessed with a sultry voice and glamorous looks, Kathleen Turner once dominated the box office, rocketing to fame in the ’80s with an impressive string of credits. The former sex symbol went on to work steadily throughout the ’90s before her career slowed down dramatically with just a handful of guest TV appearances. Now the Oscar and Tony-nominated actress is poking fun at her former sexy reputation, playing Jeff Daniels’ long-lost love interest in the new Dumb and Dumber sequel. See which roles have made Turner the incomparable legend she is today.

    Body Heat (1981)

    What better way to emblazon your image on an audience than to make your debut in a scorching, erotic neo-noir film? Starring as the femme fatale Matty Walker, Turner made us believe she could make a man do anything for her — even murder! It takes a lot of chutzpah to take on such a character early on in your career, and yet bursting with sexual confidence, Turner had an air of Old Hollywood that could make you think she had done this type of role a million times before. The controversial film would mark the beginning of Turner’s meteoric rise to fame throughout the ’80s and many more star-making performances.

    The War of the Roses (1989)

    There are rocky marriages and then there are unions littered with broken glass and broken bones. After her electric debut, Turner demonstrated she could do more than Body Heat’s femme fatale. Directed by Danny DeVito, The War of the Roses was the third onscreen pairing of Turner and Michael Douglas, both of whom were shot into stardom by their first collaboration, 1984’s Romancing the Stone. Despite the film’s gradual escalation into madness, its portrayal of the realities of divorce remained incredibly grounded. After Roses, it was clear that Turner had a talent for dark comedies, a genre that she would later thrive in.

    Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

    Despite her reputation as a screen siren and iconic beauty, Turner’s most famous character is perhaps of the animated variety. Her sultry voice was the perfect fit for the impossibly curvaceous, redheaded songstress Jessica Rabbit in Robert Zemeckis’ groundbreaking 1988 live-action/animation hybrid. The film was beloved by both critics and audiences, and remains a cultural touchstone for its original story and innovative visuals. In fact, the actress revealed that when signing autographs for fans, more often than not she’s asked to sign a picture of her animated counterpart.

    Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

    You wouldn’t normally pen Francis Ford Coppola as a comedic director, and yet it’s hard to see anyone else handling this bittersweet time-travel comedy with as much aplomb. Tinged with sentimentality and nostalgia, it explores the common desire to travel back in time as your younger self to make different decisions. Remarkably, Turner is able to play both a hot-blooded teenager and a woman in her early 40s, simply through the use of body language. Co-starring with her is a very, very young Nicolas Cage, who was looking to prove that his casting wasn’t just chalked up to nepotism, being Coppola’s nephew and all. In the end, both Turner and Cage delivered career-making performances in a charming and timeless film.

    Serial Mom (1994)

    Even with a suburbanite mom-turned-serial killer as its central character, Serial Mom is still one of John Waters’ more “normal” films. Like many of his movies, the film became a cult classic — due entirely to Turner’s convincing turn as a committed housewife with a short temper and little patience for perceived slights. This scathing satire takes on the illusion of safety and security in the isolated bubble of suburban communities. We know we shouldn’t be laughing as the body count rises but therein lies Waters’ talent. Just whatever you do, don’t wear white after Labor Day.


    • Pia Zadora’s famously bought Golden Globe was not bought, Pia Zadora continues to insist:

      The Golden Globes have always been among the sketchiest of major awards shows, and its reputation took a huge hit in 1982, when Pia Zadora, an actress universally regarded as terrible, won its New Star of The Year award for her uniformly reviled turn in the poorly received James M. Cain adaptation Butterfly, in which she costarred opposite Ed McMahon and Orson Welles. (Well, John Waters liked it, but then he makes a special point of embracing the garishly awful.) The award was even more egregious considering the other nominees, most notably Kathleen Turner’s star-making turn in Body Heat and Elizabeth McGovern in Ragtime.

      Later, it came out that Zadora’s husband, Israeli billionaire Meshulam Riklis, had flown many members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association—the sketchy, mysterious, and credibility-light organization that puts on the televised awards—for a few days of fun and sun in Las Vegas and the opportunity to see Zadora sing on a grand stage. (Is there any limit to her talent?) The cynical might suggest this may have played a role in her winning the award over people whose performances were not universally trashed as the worst kind of garbage acting ever.

      Over the last three decades, the statute of limitations for the crime of purchasing a Golden Globe award for your wife as an unusually generous, if morally dubious, present must have passed. In a feature in the Jan. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, Zadora continues to deny that her dubious victory was inspired by anything other than the rabid enthusiasm of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for her talent. The story begins with Zadora reflecting on the controversy, conceding, “Age and experience give you a different sort of understanding. Looking back, I realize what the controversy was about. I get it. I understand. Whether it was fair or not, I understand.”

      But she later insists, “I know that Rik did not buy it,” and contines, “There was just an energy in the room—they liked me! These little Italian guys, they grabbed me [at The Beverly Hilton] and said, ‘We’re so excited, you’re going to win!’”

      A chastened Golden Globes eliminated the Best Newcomer award not too long after Zadora’s surprise victory, but time has done nothing to change Zadora’s belief that she won the award fair and square for being a better actress than Kathleen Turner in Body Heat—and that it must have been pure coincidence that the ink-stained wretches of the press flown to Vegas and treated like V.I.Ps ended up voting for her.

      Just as there’s no statute of limitations for buying awards, there’s no shelf-life on self-delusion, but perhaps on her deathbed, the now-60 Zadora will finally come to the horrifying realization that perhaps she owed her Golden Globes success to something other than raw talent, the energy in the room, and those little Italian guys’ irrepressible enthusiasm for her.


      • The Story Of How A Wall Street Tycoon And A Broadway Actress Nearly Ended The Golden Globes In 1982:

        By the age of nine, Pia Zadora — a little girl from Hoboken, New Jersey — had already starred in her first feature film, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and was appearing regularly in a Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof. When she was 19, the sultry and sinewy Zadora — by then an accomplished stage actress and singer — traveled with a production of the musical Applause. One night after a performance, a chance meeting would drastically alter the direction of her life as well as the future of the Golden Globes.

        The Vision and The Vixen

        Meshulam Riklis was the owner of the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, a chairman of the board at the Rapid-American Corporation, which owned Dubonnet, and held lofty positions in companies that owned Dewar’s, Samsonite, and Playtex — he could have anything he wanted. After witnessing a gorgeous blond vixen light up the stage in a performance of Applause, he eyed the next thing on his wishlist: Pia Zadora. Riklis careened backstage through the gatherings of cast, crew, and swarms of people before finding himself standing before Zadora. At the time, the Wall Street tycoon was 49, Pia was only 19.

        “My gut said no,” she said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. “He was too old.”

        Still, Riklis persisted, and after courting the young starlet for four years, the pair married in 1977. Immediately, the magnate went to work, incorporating Zadora into a marketing scheme meant to turn his wife’s Broadway fame into Hollywood glory. Riklis placed her in Dubonnet commercials and print ads, and she began a residency at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas.

        The Jersey girl was living the lavish life with Riklis: they shared a Beverly Hills mansion equipped with a team of bodyguards and a helicopter. But the commercials and ads were just an appetizer. Riklis had higher ambitions for his wife, and they included stardom on the big-screen. With Riklis as the primary benefactor and producer, Zadora would star in Butterfly, a film based on John M. Cain’s novel about a father and daughter who engage in an incestuous relationship.

        The film featured Stacy Keach as Zadora’s dad and sexual partner while Ed McMahon and Orson Welles appeared in supporting roles. On January 21st, 1982, the nominations for the Golden Globes ceremony were released, and Pia Zadora was included in the list of actresses for the “new star of the year in a motion picture” award for her performance in Butterfly. Skeptics immediately began pondering the validity of her nomination — the film still had not been released, and almost no one had seen or heard of it.

        The Campaign

        On November 4th, a few months before the Golden Globes nominations would be released, Riklis invited at least a dozen member from the Hollywood Foreign Press to see Pia’s act at the Riviera, followed by an exclusive screening of Butterfly. In December, Riklis held another private screening and lunch for even more HFP members. The multimillionaire was also able to gain Zadora placement in Playboy and New York magazine. His efforts proved to be enough to help Pia snatch the award away from Kathleen Turner, who was pegged to win for her role in Body Heat.

        Within weeks of the win, rumors started circulating that Riklis had lavished the HFP in the months leading up to the nominations announcement. The biggest piece of evidence was Butterfly itself: it was universally panned. Even worse, the film was nominated for 10 Razzies, winning three including worst actress and worst new star for Pia Zadora. “These rumors are ridiculous,” Riklis said to People magazine in 1982. “The by-laws say okay to a screening in the home. Other people take the judges out to fancy restaurants—what’s the big deal?”

        Marianne Ruuth, president of the Foreign Press Association, said the HFPA had no hand in the voting process anymore.

        We have nothing to do with it; it’s all in their hands. There is no way this award can be bought. I’m really amazed at the furor. It’s being caused by people who haven’t seen the young lady perform. It’s not even an acting award—it’s a newcomer award.

        Despite the claims of the HFPA and Riklis, the court of public opinion was already in session, and CBS — who owned the broadcasting rights to the Golden Globes — decided to negate their contract in 1982 over the controversy. The Golden Globes was without a home.

        To The Rescue

        Not only had CBS declined to renew their contract with the Globes, but NBC and ABC saw the property as damaged goods, and had no interest in broadcasting the ceremony. Making matters worse, a key producer for the show had quit amid the scandal, and it was unclear when, or if, the awards telecast would ever be seen again.

        In January 1983, Dick Clark stepped in and vowed to get the Golden Globes back on track by positioning his production company behind it. His first move was to move the show to syndication, allowing it to screen nationwide. By 1988, the telecast was garnering goodwill again, and Dick Clark Productions made a deal with TBS to allow for the awards show to begin airing on their network. Former HFPA president Mirjana Van Blaricom told The Hollywood Reporter, “If not for Dick Clark, I doubt the show would be so successful. At the beginning, he helped in getting the actors to be presenters.”

        After airing the show in syndication and on cable for several years, the Golden Globes had gained momentum, and Fox and NBC began a bidding war for the rights to air the ceremony while CBS still had no interest — the Zadora incident left a bad taste in their mouth. DCP decided to go with NBC, and the broadcast network felt comfortable with Dick Clark at the helm. NBC’s head of programming, Warren Littlefield, discussed the decision.

        Who knew what the HFPA was, but Dick was our comfort zone. We had been in business for so many music specials and series, we trusted him. That’s who we moved forward with. That first year, we had more than a 400 percent increase in viewership over the cable broadcast.

        In 1995, the Golden Globes officially moved to NBC.

        Despite the Golden Globe win in 1982, Zadora’s career never took off. In 1983, her next film, The Lonely Lady, was released. The movie — which depicts her being raped by a garden hose wielded by Ray Liotta — was again panned by audiences and critics and the worst actress Razzie award was once again hers for the second consecutive year. By the end of the decade, Zadora’s two back-to-back Razzie wins also gained her the distinction of being named the “Worst New Star of the Decade” (The Lonely Lady also won “Worst Picture of the Decade”).

        Although Zadora and Riklis remain friends and the parents of two children, the pair separated in 1993, with Zadora reportedly receiving an eight-figure settlement. The actress would secure small parts in the final Naked Gun film, as well as John Waters’ Hairspray, but she quit acting in 1999. At least, we’ll always have this duet Pia recorded with Jermaine Jackson in 1984, included in the soundtrack to Voyage of the Rock Aliens.


        • This is interesting (even though I don’t feel that strongly for the Golden Globes either way, but I realize it’s nice to win accolades in one’s chosen field). I’m only vaguely aware of Pia Zadora though, but I’ve seen earlier photos of her, and she reminds me of Elizabeth Daily (“Valley Girl”, “Scarface” soundtrack, “Better Off Dead”, voiced Tommy Pickles for “Rugrats”, guest starred on “Friends”), who I’ve always liked.


        • Golden Globe-Award-Winning Case File #167: Butterfly:

          The Golden Globes’ always-shaky reputation took what should have been a fatal hit when fabulously untalented newcomer Pia Zadora beat out lesser actors like Kathleen Turner (for Body Heat) and Elizabeth McGovern (for Ragtime) to win the New Star Of The Year Golden Globe in 1982. In a shocking coincidence, the same voting committee that objectively determined that Zadora was the top newcomer in all of the world that year (they are the Golden Globes, after all) had previously been treated by the film’s producer, Meshulam Riklis—also then Zadora’s husband—to a glamorous night in Las Vegas watching Zadora perform, plus a lunch and private screening at Riklis’ Hollywood mansion. Bear in mind that when Zadora won the Golden Globe for Butterfly, the film hadn’t even been released domestically, so if audiences knew Zadora at all, it was from her performance as a child actor in Santa Claus Conquers The Martians. To some skeptical souls, Turner’s incendiary, instantly iconic performance in Body Heat may have perhaps been a slightly more legitimate choice.


  42. With Turner’s birthday almost on the way next week, here’s hoping that everything from Serial Mom onwards would be included!


  43. Good update here; I like the new info. I was a dedicated “Californication” viewer, so I enjoyed her turn as the racy and unapologetic Sue Collini (“Collini…oout!”).


  44. It’s worth remembering that the Farrellys specified for casting DD2 that Fraida should be “a Kathleen Turner type”, but they’d not approached Turner to play her. It was Turner who approached them. The woman is clearly luxuriating in not being pure hottie any more, and I can’t say I blame her. She’s made a better career than many despite being gorgeous, & it’s interesting that she puts it at least in part down to her theatre training.


  45. Speaking of Rheumatoid arthritis, I think Lara Flynn Boyle may have that condition as well.


    • There were rumors to that effect in 2006, but Boyle denied them. She’s been plagued by rumors of anorexia forever. The arthritis rumors appear to have died a quick death. I would think if they were true, we’d have heard more about them by now.


    • Lara Flynn Boyle : Rheumatoid Arthritis:

      If you will compare her pictures to Kathleen Turner ,who also suffers from the disorder, you will see the similarities. Weight gain, unnatural bloating, change in facial features, thinning hair, among others. Miss Turner was accused of the same things that Miss Boyle is being accused of until she was diagnosed and had the courage to tell. It is an autoimmune disorder,very debilitating, and very cruel. As cruel as the uninformed comments I have read here. Be kind. It can happen to anyone.


      • Maybe I was wrong here about Lara Flynn Boyle; I ventured an incorrect guess. Good; I had a friend that has that condition, and I’m glad she doesn’t have that condition then.


  46. Nostalgia Critic: A Simple Wish

    Mara Wilson…that is all.


  47. The Accidental Tourist novel was written by the wonderful Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Tyler not Frank Galati. I found the film adaptation quite good and Geena Davis succeeded in making her quirky over the top character sympathetic and not annoying. The supporting cast was top notch too.
    I continue to absolutely adore Peggy Sue Got Married. I know I am in the minority, but its wistful tone and message about living with your past without regrets still resonates with me.


  48. Kathleen Turner to Star in Off Broadway, Transgender Lesbian Play:

    Oscar-nominated Actress Kathleen Turner will co-star in an upcoming off Broadway play about a lesbian struggling with gender identity issues.


  49. Minka Kelly and Kathleen Turner join Hulu’s The Path, reuniting Kelly with Friday Night Lights boss:

    Kelly is joining Jason Katims’ Hulu cult drama, playing a woman Aaron Paul is possibly having an affair with, while Turner will play Hugh Dancy’s mom.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 781 other followers

%d bloggers like this: