book reviews, celebrities, divorce

A review of Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life, by Julianna Margulies…

Last spring, I happened to come across an article about actress Julianna Margulies, and the book she had just published, Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life. Although I never got into Julianna Margulies’ career beyond her stint on E.R., the article had made her new book sound compelling. Maybe it was because the article also mentioned George Clooney, an actor who didn’t impress me when I first saw him on the early 80s era sitcom, E/R, with Elliott Gould, or when he was on The Facts of Life during its shark jumping years. E.R. gave me new respect for George Clooney, and Julianna Margulies had great chemistry with him on that show. It was probably one of my favorite shows in my lifetime. I downloaded the book, but only now have gotten around to reading it.

I just finished Sunshine Girl this morning. I don’t know what I was expecting when I bought it. I think I was excited to get it, but for some reason, kept putting off reading it. And now that I’ve read it, I have huge new respect for Julianna Margulies. Wow– what an amazing life she’s led, on so many levels! She reveals a surprisingly intelligent, insightful, and experienced person beneath the roles she’s famously played on TV– Nurse Carol Hathaway on E.R., and then attorney, Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife. She can now add “successful author” to her long list of accomplishments. Aside from writing Sunshine Girl, Margulies is also the author of a children’s book titled Three Magic Balloons.

Margulies basics

Margulies was born the third daughter and youngest child to her parents, Paul and Francesca Margulies. Paul Margulies was a successful New York based ad executive. He’s the one who came up with the famous slogan for Alka-Seltzer, “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.”

Julianna’s dad came up with this.

Julianna Margulies’ mother, Francesca, was a ballet dancer who taught eurythmy and was an expert in anthroposophy, concepts championed by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, scientist, and artist. It is Steiner’s ideas that propelled the educational movement behind Waldorf Schools. A Waldorf or Steiner Education focuses on developing students’ “intellectual, artistic, and practical skills in an integrated and holistic manner.” Julianna’s parents were incompatible, and got divorced when Julianna was very young. They were both of Jewish heritage, although Julianna’s mother converted to Christianity when Julianna and her sisters were children. She writes in her book that she considers herself Jewish, but is not religious.

For some reason, Julianna’s mother– referred to as Francesca in the dedication, as well as in other sources– is pictured at the end of the Kindle version of this book with the name Janice Marylin Gardner (nee Goldberg). I’m not sure if that was an error, or her mom changed her name. In any case, Julianna, and her two older sisters, Alexandra and Rachel, grew up moving from place to place as their mom worked in different Waldorf schools. Julianna was fluent in French because her mother had moved to France so that the girls could be close to their father, who was working in Paris. Then, they moved to Sussex, England, where Julianna developed a perfect British accent; she got mocked for it when she later moved to New York, only to move back to England for a couple more years. Then she landed in New Hampshire, where she had to learn to decipher the thick New England accents she encountered there.

All of the moving around was traumatic for Julianna and her sisters. Her eldest sister, Alexandra, had so much trouble dealing with their mother’s idiosyncrasies that when she became a teenager, she refused to live with her anymore. Alexandra was a talented ballet dancer and went to the School of American Ballet, while Rachel and Julianna continued to flit from place to place on two continents and through different countries. At one point, they were supposed to live in Germany, but Julianna’s mother had hated Germany. It reminded her too much of Hitler. She moved to England, abruptly changing the plans for Julianna and Rachel, and causing them massive stress from the upheaval.

The Sunshine Girl…

The incredible stress caused from living “hand to mouth” as a child– constantly leaving friends and beloved pets– and dealing with her mother’s penchant for loving and leaving different men– caused Julianna Margulies to become a people pleaser. This is a quality that reminds me a lot of my husband, who would rather die than hurt someone.

Julianna Margulies writes so many anecdotes about how she bent over for others, tolerating abuse from everyone from customers in restaurants where she waited tables to family members. She spent over ten years in an abusive relationship with another actor who took her for granted and expected her to cater to his needs. She tolerated abusive work environments, constantly pushing herself to the limits for other people and never taking the time to enjoy the fruits of her labors and talents. All the while, even though she was a “sunshine girl” to others, she was denying herself. Her mother had dubbed her the “sunshine girl” as a term of endearment, but that label became an albatross as she constantly yielded to other people’s needs, not wanting to rock the boat.

Why did Sunshine Girl affect me so much?

I think I was moved by Julianna Margulies’ life story because her story reminds me so much of my husband and his daughters. My husband, Bill, has two daughters with his ex wife. He wasn’t allowed to see or communicate with them after he and his ex wife divorced. We’re finding out now how that situation affected Bill’s younger daughter; the older one is still estranged. Julianna Margulies’ story, while not quite as tragic as Bill’s has been, is somewhat similar. I actually gained some perspective reading Sunshine Girl, and also some validation. I even read some of it aloud to Bill.

Julianna Margulies met some really good people– dear friends who have stayed in her life and offered her wisdom and kindness. She’s stayed down to earth and humble, in spite of her massive success as an actress. I felt like I could really relate to her as a person. She seems like someone I’d love to have as a friend, in spite of her unconventional life. Actually, Julianna Margulies’ life isn’t that strange to me, having heard my husband’s story. In many ways, they have things in common with each other… as do my husband’s daughters. My husband, in particular, could write a book, and probably should.

Julianna’s epiphany

Anyone who loved E.R. remembers how Julianna Margulies famously turned down 27 million dollars to extend her contract. So many people told her she was crazy to leave the show. She was in her early 30s at the time, and people didn’t expect her career to flourish beyond what seemed like the pinnacle. But Julianna ignored all of the advice given to her by so many people. She decided to quit because she wanted to act in a play. She didn’t like living in Los Angeles as much as she did New York, where the seasons change. The playwright had written a role expressly for her. It was a challenge that excited her. And she wisely realized, with help from her father, that money isn’t everything. Sometimes, you have to take a risk to get the most out of life.

Margulies writes that people were merciless to her in the wake of that decision. She got raked over the coals by the pundits on The View. Barbara Walters and Joy Behar were both particularly nasty and haughty about Margulies’ decision. Walters even asked, “Who does this girl think she is?” And Behar predicted Margulies would never work as an actress again. Happily, Margulies proved them BOTH wrong, when she landed her role as Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife, a show that went on for seven successful seasons. I never got into that show myself, but now I might have to watch it.

Julianna confronts her parents…

One other aspect of the book really stands out to me. That’s when Margulies confronts her parents for the way she was raised. On one hand, she really did live an interesting and unexpected life. Despite being “broke” a lot of the time, she had some pretty cool experiences in England and France, and she got to attend Sarah Lawrence College, a very expensive and exclusive institution of higher learning. She also completed a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, but she actually hated it there. Like me, when I was growing up, she rode ponies and competed in horse shows. She even took care of a pony she “found” in England who had been cast out as too stubborn to work with. I related to that, too… And, like me, Julianna is also a Gemini.

In spite of those experiences, though, she largely grew up without her father in her life. He stayed in New York, so she didn’t get to spend much time with him. Her mother was erratic and irresponsible. Julianna and her sisters had to grow up fast. When Julianna was pregnant with her son, she read a bundle of letters she’d written to her dad. He had given them to her as a Christmas gift, thinking she would love to read them. What the letters actually did, though, was remind Julianna of how difficult her childhood was, and how much she’d missed her father. She confronted him, and he ended up explaining his perspective. She hadn’t had all of the information about how he’d been affected by the divorce. She hadn’t known how much he’d missed her, and how much he’d struggled emotionally and financially, after the divorce. I was glad to see that she acquired wisdom, as she also found the answers to questions that obviously plagued her when she was coming of age.

I have witnessed this same phenomenon, as my husband’s younger daughter has been filling Bill in on life after divorce. Likewise, he’s explained to her what it was like for him. Together, they have come to a mutual understanding. Julianna was lucky in that her parents seemingly were able to work together. She wasn’t totally estranged from her dad, like my husband’s daughters have been. But she did have a mom who was self-absorbed and inconsiderate on many levels, and very stubborn when it came to doing whatever she wanted, regardless of other people’s needs.. Thankfully, Julianna also confronted her mom, and her mom was able to apologize… in her own sort of histrionic way. Julianna explains the apology was all she needed.

I’m glad Julianna Margulies was able to reconcile these issues with her parents. Her father passed away in 2014, the same year my dad died. I’m sure she would have been devastated if she’d never been able to work this out with her dad before his life ended.

Caveats

I will caution to anyone looking for “dirt” about ER or The Good Wife that this book may not be what they want to read. This isn’t a “dishy” book about her shows. This is a book about Julianna Margulies. I think her life’s events make for an excellent story, in and of itself. Maybe someone should turn it into a mini-series. Maybe someone will.

I also note that some of the stories in this book can be found in articles online. Those who have followed Julianna Margulies’ career closer than I have may be frustrated that they’ve heard on Oprah or read in magazines some of the material that is presented in this book. That was not an issue for me, though, because I haven’t heard or read anything about her in the years since she left E.R., and I would not expect to read about Margulies’ co-stars in a book that is clearly about Julianna Margulies’ life.

Julianna Margulies talks about her book.

Overall

I found Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life to be a very satisfying read. So often, when it comes to celebrity memoirs, it turns out the author has nothing to say. I don’t think that’s true in Julianna Margulies’ story. She’s led a “fairytale life”, as her dad put it, but she’s definitely paid her dues. She’s humble, wise, and real, and yet has a very intriguing history. I’m grateful she was able to share it in her book. I truly got a lot out of Sunshine Girl, and found it to be a fast paced and well-written book. I also enjoyed the photos of Julianna and her family, and appreciated getting a sense of who she is off camera.

If you’re interested in a good life story, I think Sunshine Girl is well worth reading. I think learning about anthroposophy and eurhythmy alone is worth the price of the book. Not surprisingly, my husband already knew all about both. 😉

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complaints

I hate it when this happens…

Sometime last night, I scratched my left cornea. Consequently, I have to wear my glasses today. My eye hurts and is watering, which makes my nose run. I feel tired and a little depressed, like I just want to go back to bed and sleep until my eye heals. It hurts to do anything that requires me to use my eyes, like typing this post. Consequently, today’s fresh content will probably be kind of skimpy. That’s also why there were so many reposts today. I hope someone will find the book reviews interesting.

My glasses need to be upgraded, since my left eye is a little bit weaker than it was when I got my prescription in 2017. I look like crap today. My hair is a mess and my eye is all irritated. I may not manage to walk the dogs today, even though we all could use the exercise.

I need to go to the eye doctor. I really would like to go and make an appointment for LASIK surgery, so I can ditch glasses and contact lenses. I also need to go to the dentist. We do have an appointment for that in late August. My car needs to go to the mechanic, so the top will go down (it’s a convertible). For some reason, the top won’t open all the way. It might be because Bill had to change the battery and shorted out something. I think we have an appointment for that, too. It’ll be good to catch up on the chores that were routine before the pandemic began last year.

Bill and I enjoyed celebrating his birthday last night… although I can’t say it was unlike any other night at our house. We listened to music and drank wine with dinner. We watched the dogs play and talked. It wasn’t a bad way to spend the evening, but it also wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Bill’s birthdays tend to get a lot less fanfare than mine get. But I hope we can plan a long weekend somewhere soon, and maybe celebrate a little bit more.

COVID-19 still makes things suck. I read an article this morning about how four vaccinated people working in the California Capitol building tested positive, causing the mask mandates to be reinstated. I didn’t read that the people who tested positive and were vaccinated were symptomatic, but they did contract COVID-19. I think it’s inevitable that most of us are going to eventually get COVID. The vaccines will make the disease less severe. There will be fewer deaths and hospitalizations. But, like the common cold, I think COVID is here to stay. Hopefully, it will eventually become much less dangerous and this fucking face mask culture will go away. I am so over it. I hate the masks, but I also hate that the whole thing has become so politicized. Case in point, check out the screenshot below.

I will admit, this was initially my fear, too. But I have noticed that a lot of people really hate the masks. I doubt this will become a permanent law, if COVID-19 is made less deadly. I hate that conservative people are blaming the restrictions on “liberals”.
More from these mental giants.

I just want to go back to living a normal lifestyle. Although, I guess in fairness, my lifestyle isn’t all that normal even when there isn’t a pandemic. Anyway, I was thinking maybe I might explore some more music today, but I feel kind of shitty because of my eye. It hurts less when I close my eyes… so maybe that’s what I’ll do. But I can tell Noyzi won’t like that. I hear him whining for a walk as I type this.

I don’t really feel like putting on clothes and walking the dogs… I just want to crawl back into bed. WAHHHH.

On another note, I did watch this hilarious ad by George Clooney for a contest he’s running (the video is no longer available, so I deleted it). Seriously, it’s worth watching, even if I could drive to Lake Como if I wanted to. In fact, we have driven there. It’s an experience for those who don’t mind aggressive Italians who tailgate.

I like George Clooney. He seems like a normal guy with an extraordinary life. I would enter his contest, as long as I don’t have to watch his episodes of The Facts of Life. That was not a career highlight for him.

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celebrities, condescending twatbags, psychology, rants, religion

Tom Cruise’s tyrannical temper tantrum has triggered me.

Like everyone else is right now, Tom Cruise is under a lot of stress. He’s working on a movie, and that’s crucial work. What’s more, Tom Cruise is a very famous and important man. Many people depend on him, and his very important work, for their livelihoods. He recently let his production crew know all about that, in no uncertain terms, when he saw a couple of crew members standing too close to each other at a computer monitor. Cruise reportedly screamed at his staff:

“They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us. We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherfuckers,”

“I don’t ever want to see it again! Ever!,” he rages. “If I see you do it again, you’re fucking gone.”

“And if anyone on this crew does it, that’s it — and you too and you too. And you, don’t you ever fucking do it again.”

Mr. Cruise is currently in the U.K., working on his upcoming film, Mission: Impossible 7. No doubt, there’s a lot of money on the line for this film, particularly given the realities of working during the pandemic. So yes, he’s likely under a lot of stress. But these rantings are nothing new for Tom Cruise. He’s had a reputation for being verbally abusive for years. The fact that someone managed to capture that whole rant tells me that it’s happened before. They were prepared to record it. This is also a man who chose his cult over a relationship with his daughter.

I don’t necessarily disagree with Tom Cruise’s message. It is important for people to take the COVID-19 virus seriously and do whatever they can to limit its spread. And he’s right that a lot of people are struggling financially right now, although I highly doubt Cruise is among the strugglers. However, there is absolutely no excuse for unloading that kind of verbal abuse on others, especially toward people who can’t defend themselves against it without significant risk to their livelihoods.

Screaming and swearing at people in a rage is a very poor, and ultimately ineffective, communication style. That kind of tirade is more likely to cause people to shut down or go into fight or flight mode than it is to inspire positive changes and cooperation. I know that when I’ve been chewed out by other people, all it’s done is make me very angry or depressed. It does not make me want to change my behavior. I feel hateful towards the perpetrator, rather than determined to “do better”. While it might feel natural to yell at people out of frustration, it usually does more harm than good.

I shared an article about this incident that appeared in The Atlantic. An interesting discussion ensued, with some people defending and even cheering on Tom Cruise. I suspect the acceptance toward his insane rantings are borne out of frustration. This has been a very difficult year for everyone, and there are a lot of people– especially in the United States– who are not taking the pandemic seriously, taking crazy chances, and thumbing their noses at authority. The end result is, so far, over 314,000 deaths in the United States alone.

Just yesterday, I read about Alibi’s Drinkery, a bar in Minnesota that is being sued by the state for defiantly staying open and not enforcing any COVID-19 precautions. Not surprisingly, the comments about the bar’s owners are pretty brutal and mostly hostile. However, I don’t think the collective angry reactions expressed in those comments are necessarily due to people’s worry for others. While I do agree that some people are genuinely concerned about the spread of COVID-19, I think more folks are reacting out of anger because they have been playing by the rules and sacrificing. Watching other people defiantly ignoring the advice of public health officials is upsetting, because we all miss having fun, hanging out with family and friends, and celebrating life. People who flout the rules are likely prolonging this pandemic hell for everyone else. And so, I think a lot of people are willing to give Tom Cruise a pass for losing his shit. Many people can commiserate, although most of them would never dare meltdown the way Cruise did.

Again, I don’t think Tom Cruise was wrong to call out the behaviors he observed. Neither does George Clooney, who has expressed some understanding for Cruise’s rationale. Cruise has the right to insist on proper public health guidelines being followed. However, George Clooney and I seem to agree that Cruise went about delivering his message in the wrong way. He absolutely could have easily made his point without referring to his employees as “motherfuckers” and shrieking insults and threats at them. He didn’t need to berate and bully his employees to get his message across to them.

I can’t blame them for quitting. What an asshole.

Five people quit after a second little meltdown from Mr. Cruise. Apparently, when the news of the first rant went public, Cruise went nuclear again, which no doubt made the workplace extremely hostile and toxic. I imagine he went ballistic because someone leaked evidence of his abusive behavior to the masses, which may threaten Mr. Cruise’s career in the form of reduced ticket sales. If I were a Cruise fan, I might decide not to see his latest film because of his abusive diatribe.

As I listened to him yelling at his staff, toward the end, Cruise seemed to calm down a bit, softening enraged words with words of caring and concern. But the damage was already done. I’ll bet the second tirade had an element of “See what you made me do!” in it. He likely blamed his workers for “making” him scream profanities at them by not following orders, and then he probably blamed them for recording him and leaking his temper tantrum to the press. If that happened, then he’s most definitely guilty of abuse. I doubt anyone “makes” Tom Cruise do anything, but he sure gets off on screeching out orders.

Tom Cruise is in a cult that promotes this kind of behavior, and in fact, his marriage to Katie Holmes reportedly disintegrated, in part, because he was given to screaming at her, too. In 2012, a story came out about Cruise’s “house of horrors”, where he supposedly kept Katie Holmes a virtual prisoner and berated her for wanting to quit Scientology. Cruise’s lawyer threatened to sue over the story, claiming it was libelous. But listening to Cruise scream at his staff makes me realize that he must treat his family members even worse than he does his employees. In that case, perhaps it’s a good thing that he’s reportedly stopped speaking to his daughter, Suri, because she’s not in Scientology anymore.

No one should have to tolerate being screamed and cursed at by their boss, especially in a civilized culture. We discourage people from taking that kind of abuse from their mates, family members, or friends. Tom Cruise may think he’s God, but he’s not. Paying someone’s salary does not give him license to threaten, bully, and insult people. It’s abuse, plain and simple, and it certainly doesn’t make me want to see Tom Cruise’s movies. But then, I was never a big fan of his, even before he started jumping on Oprah’s couch and telling everyone that Scientology makes him more special and powerful than other people. Back in 2008, Tom Cruise said:

“Being a Scientologist, when you drive past an accident it’s not like anyone else. As you drive past you know you have to do something about it because you know you’re the only one who can help,”

Wow. I think Tom has a God complex, and much of it, along with his over the top rantings, likely has to do with Scientology and his own innate narcissism. He needs to come back down to Earth and join us in the real world. Unfortunately, he probably never will.

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