Tony Winner Swoosie Kurtz Releases Memoir 'PART SWAN, PART GOOSE' Today
With a name like Swoosie, she was destined to lead an interesting life. In PART SWAN, PART GOOSE: An Uncommon Memoir of Womanhood, Work, and Family (Perigee Hardcover; today, April 29, 2014; $25), award-winning actress Swoosie Kurtz gives a guided tour of her journey from Nebraska to the theater stages of Broadway and the television and movie screens of Hollywood.
From her first appearance on The Donna Reed Show (a part that was whittled down until only the back of Swoosie's head was shown on-screen) to her Tony Award-winning roles in Lanford Wilson's Fifth of July and John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves to her much-heralded turns on television series Sisters, Pushing Daisies and Mike & Molly, Swoosie has been embraced by critics and fans alike for her quirky, heartfelt, and always attention-getting performances.
But her life off-screen has been just as extraordinary.
The only child of Frank and Margo Kurtz, Swoosie shares an incredible bond with her parents-both accomplished, opinionated, and filled-to-bursting with personality. Swoosie's father was an Olympic diving medalist and later became one of the most decorated aviators in American history. During World War II, Frank flew a record number of missions in a cobbled-together B-17D Flying Fortress called The Swoose (part swan, part goose). Swoosie's mother chronicled the early years with Frank in My Rival, the Sky, a homefront memoir published by Putnam in 1945. Margo's book ends with the couple happily anticipating the birth of a baby who will be named after the indomitable Swoose.
Swoosie's life and career have been hugely influenced by her close ties to Frank and Margo. Swoosie stayed with her parents during the entire five-year run of Sisters, and after Frank's death in 1996, Margo moved in to her daughter's home. Drifting between lucidity and confusion, Swoosie's 98-year-old mother still lives with her. Margo requires 24-hour care and companionship, but she remains the sweet-natured, loving woman who can delight Swoosie with a witty and well-placed quip or surprise her with an in-the-moment memory of a 1943 bond tour. Swoosie struggles to stay ahead of her mother's increasing needs while navigating the demands of the entertainment industry.
PART SWAN, PART GOOSE weaves Swoosie's story with passages from My Rival, the Sky to create a vivid portrait of the mother-daughter relationship and of the very different paths taken by two women of different generations.
Here is that rare Hollywood memoir that takes readers behind the curtain, but doesn't live there. It is endlessly entertaining, but doesn't pretend to tell all-what it does tell will resonate with millions of Americans caring for aging parents. PART SWAN, PART GOOSE is as endearing, real, and compelling as Swoosie Kurtz herself.
Photo Credit: Monica Simoes