Meredith Baxter out in Hollywood survived domestic abuse?
Green celebrity American actress Meredith Baxter (formerly Meredith Baxter-Birney) came out at a rate quicker than most other celebs out in Hollywood. As a television mother part of the hit series Family Ties, Baxter was leading a double-life. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” episode that aired March 2nd, 2011, Baxter discussed her biography Untied (released on March 3, 2011), which discusses her double-life, struggle with alcohol addiction, developing sexuality and an abusive marriage to actor David Birney.
Meredith Baxter stared alongside actors Michael J. Fox and Michael Gross in “Family Ties” for about 7 years in the 1980’s. Baxter came out as a lesbian in 2009 on the “Today Show” after rumors that blogger Perez Hilton and tabloid papers were threatening to run a story about her and lesbian partner Nancy.
Oprah Winfrey and Meredith Baxter discussed many areas of Baxter’s life but primarily focused on her abusive past in her relationship with actor David Birney. The longest marriage for her of three failed marriages, was the abusive one with Burney. This marriage took place throughout her career as television mom, Elyse P. Keaton in “Growing Pains”. To hear Michael Gross tell it, Baxter was very good at concealing her troubled marriage and struggles with alcohol until she finally broke down to him on the set behind the studio kitchen.
During the “Oprah Winfrey Show” episode, Gross recalled her repeating the phrase, “I’m afraid,” numerous times as Baxter recounted the story of her marriage. It was not until the children were grown that she finally decided to leave the marriage. One Thanksgiving holiday when in the kitchen after another failed attempt to please Birney with a pleasant dinner, something clicked in her mind, “There’s not going to be another time”. This was Meredith’s statement to David Birney as he suggested ides for making the next Thanksgiving gathering a better one – their divorce was final in 1989.
Actress Meredith Baxter shared her thoughts with Oprah on her feelings from the marriage:
“I felt [like] a fraud in my own life,” she says. “But it wasn’t in terms about any public persona. I didn’t live in any public persona. I didn’t think about my fans or anything like that. It was just such a little dark little place I lived.”
“The truth is, you don’t have to be abused physically too many times. A couple times and you know that’s always on the back burner,” she says. “It’s the continuing corrosive effect of being belittled, denigrated in front of children, second-guessed, called down so that I have no voice. I had no voice for so long, which is probably, ultimately, why I felt I had to say something at some point.”
When Oprah asked Meredith about her increasingly uncontrollable drinking Baxter replied:
“[I was] unmindful of anybody else. I was so caught up in my own hurt,” she says. “I don’t know what I was saying to myself, but I was so angry.”
Michael Gross commented on what he perceived of the Baxter-Birney Hollywood marriage:
“She and David were the poster children of a marriage that was going well. All through the first years of Family Ties it was, ‘Here’s the Hollywood marriage that works,’” he says. “I didn’t know it was because you kept your mouth shut.”
Not only was Meredith Baxter hiding her history as a domestic abuse survivor, she was also keeping her sexuality a secret. For many years, for fear of the media smearing her name, Baxter and lesbian partners as she realized she was a lesbian would hide from the public’s eye. While some close friends, such as Michael Gross, and family knew about her sexuality, most in her life were oblivious. Her live-in girlfriend Nancy shared her feelings with Oprah:
“I never knew when it was okay, when we were out in public, to hold her hand or to put my arm around her,” Nancy says. “We would be holding hands and perhaps someone would be walking up the street and she would need to drop my hand. It would hurt my feelings.”
Meredith Baxter’s current relationship with girlfriend Nancy appears to be a refreshing change from Baxter’s previous relationships. As a mother, daughter, celebrity actress, domestic abuse survivor, lesbian and recovering alcohol addict, Baxter is in a healthy place in her life.
Green Celebrity Stats: Actress Meredith Baxter
Actress Meredith Baxter, diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, has taken to speaking at breast cancer awareness gatherings and makes it a point to voice her thoughts on domestic violence survivorship and how to prevent domestic abuse.
Survivor and Actress Meredith Baxter has been through a lot in her 63 years of life. With many roles, both on screen and off, she has re-created herself numerous times over the years. What do you think of this newest chapter in her life?
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