Swoosie Kurtz has enjoyed a lengthy career in movies, television, and on stage. She had a breakout role in the early 1990s TV series “Sisters.” She currently appears on the program “Mike and Molly. Kurtz just published “Part Swan, Part Goose: An Uncommon Memoir of Womanhood, Work and Family.” I spoke to her about it.
Regarding her unusual name: “I was named after a B-17 airplane that my father flew in the war. He was the most decorated Air Force pilot of WWII. He flew a plane called “The Swoose” … there was a song out at the time: “Alexander the Swoose, Half-Swan, Half-Goose,” something about this strange looking bird. And I was named after the airplane.”
Why she wrote the book: “Its really a Valentine to my parents, who gave me the world. They instilled in me this sense of self esteem and confidence and steadfast belief in myself that I really carry through each day and its a huge part of who I am today.”
“They were the two most extraordinary people I know … my mother and I especially have always been joined at the heart. She lives with me; my choice. She’s 98 and a half. I love to call her my 98-an-a-half-year-old toddler.”
“What I really wanted to write about, Vick, was not so much a celebrity memoir of ‘Oh, I did this and this and something funny happened backstage or on the set.’ I mean there’s certainly that in the book, but the story I really wanted to tell was about them and the impact they’ve had on my life and most especially, these last seven years, this journey I’ve been on with my mom … that part of the story is especially something so many people can identify with.”
“She started to show signs of declining about seven years ago. She’s always been my rock, my confidante, my best pal … you’re not prepared for it. The tables turn and you’re the head of the family … I’ve ended up parenting my own mother. So many people out there are facing this now.”
“Its been and continues to be an amazing journey … I never had children … I’m not getting out of this world without being a nurturer, because she’s brought out in me a quality I never thought I had; which was a maternal thing I never thought was there.”
Regarding her fabulous career: “I’m still on the train, that’s all I know. You’re usually euthanized after age 40 in Hollywood, or maybe 35.
I really feel grateful and lucky especially to have gotten a gig like “Mike and Molly.” I mean this is just the gift that keeps on giving.”
Her hopes for this book: “I wanted to share with people this journey … hopefully it will make people laugh and cry. If someone out there is caring for an aging parent, than this story will hopefully make them feel not so alone. Because you do feel alone and isolated when this is happening.”
You can hear my interview with Swoosie Kurtz on Sunday morning at 11 on WYSO-FM (91.3).
This week’s book
“Part Swan, Part Goose: An Uncommon Memoir of Womanhood, Work and Family” by Swoosie Kurtz (Perigee, 327 pages, $25)