Three Celebrity deaths in one week. All by suicide.
Who knows how many more people also took their own lives this week that we didn’t read about.
Inés Zorreguieta was the sister of the Dutch Queen Maxima. Inés was a bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding to then-Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander in 2002 and was godmother to their youngest of three daughters, 11-year-old Princess Ariane. She may not have been royalty herself, but I always thought it would be more fun to be on the periphery. Same parties, less scrutiny.
I never met Kate Spade, but I did admire her empire. I’ve got my own dreams of creating my a fashion house one day.
I have met Anthony Bourdain. Years ago, before I went public about the Hey Dad abuse, I had also had dreams of creating a travel series. My husband found the cash to send to to Travel Channel Headquarters in Washington DC to attend a week of what was then Travel Chanel Academy. It was a 4 day course teaching aspiring VJs on how to properly film, edit and make interesting stories. A couple of people who did the course even ended up on the network. My dream was to have a scuba travel series, that was somewhere between the quirkiness of Samantha Brown and the edginess of Anthony Bourdain. Scuba, food, adventures. Not just diving, but all the other stuff too.
On day two, Bourdain walked into our class.
He was this tall, commanding presence, and was just as sarcastic and witty in real life as he was on his show. He made a joke about how there really was an academy, and they asked him what they thought his commercials were for. He said he knew he was doing the commercials, but he didn’t know if it was legit or not, he just did what they paid him to do.
Having worked in restaurant kitchens for years, I really admired Bourdain, and it was super exciting for me to meet him in real life.
Apparently I was the only one in the class who loved Samantha Brown. They had been making fun of her show the first two days, and even Bourdain continued the joke. Given Brown had been the star of TC for so long, I’m still not sure if they enjoyed ribbing her, or if there was more to it. They were certainly trying to be more edgy at the time, and she may have been too wholesome for them now.
I ended up filming a bit of stuff for Going Down. We were putting together enough footage for a pilot and a show reel, when I was asked to go public about Robert Hughes and the Hey Dad..! stuff.
I had to decide which was more important to me. After years of not being in the industry, I was finally enjoying being back working with camera again. I was the producer, and people really responded well to me. I loved filming. I was learning to edit well. I was amazing at getting sponsors, setting up locations, and getting people to talk on camera. Other people loved the concept of the show, and I think it really could have become something.
But then there was also my responsibility as a human to talk about the past. I didn’t want to at first. I kept saying no, because like so many others in the industry, I wanted to keep forging ahead and do what was right for me.
I wondered if I couldn’t do both, so I went ahead and agreed to talk about Hey Dad..! again. At the time, we had no idea the multiple year journey ahead, and how many people would accuse me of making it up just to create publicity for Going Down.
So I ended up giving all the sponsors products back, calling people and telling them we wouldn’t be filming. I removed whole pages from the website, and most of the footage never made it to the web.
There were days when life was so miserable, I contemplated ending it all.
Somehow though, seven years later, I’m still alive, and I don’t have Going Down, or a clothing line, BUT, I am in an incredibly good place. I live with my best friend/husband on a boat, I travel often. I have an autobiography that people really seem to like, I have the drawings for my clothing should I decide to go ahead and make them, and I’m even thinking about starting to film for Going Down again. Even if it’s just a web series this time. Basically, I’m very happy.
I am so glad I found the strength to go on, even when there were days I really didn’t think I could. I want to reach out and hug all those other people who are having a dark day, and tell them to hang on. That no matter what it is, it will pass. At the end of the tunnel, there is a light, and one day, you’ll feel sunshine on your face again.
I also wish we reached out to tell people how much they mean to us before they die. Sometimes people just don’t know how much of an impact they’d had, or how much they will be missed. Bourdain wasn’t just a chef who brought the world to us every week, he was also a huge advocate for #MeToo. His girlfriend Asia Argento had been raped by Weinstein, and Bourdain was very supportive of the movement.
I have been incredibly lucky the last couple of years. There are always trolls, but I’ve also had so many lovely people reach out to me and tell me how much of a difference I’ve made in their lives. That I had an impact, that I gave them strength. They’ll never know how much their words gave me the strength to keep being strong and fighting for them. Their words to me really did make a difference.
So please, be strong. Don’t give up. Ask for help if you need it. Hug your dog, or your kid. Remember it WILL pass.
For those of you reading this who are in a good place, remember to reach out to your friends. When they’re really feeling sad, they might not ask for help, or might push you away. Know that letting them know you’re there for them really does make a difference.
These three deaths also teach us that no matter how privileged we think someone’s life is, they can still be lonely, depressed, or suffer from mental illness. Sometimes, being a celebrity can be even lonelier than a regular person. They might be surrounded by people, but they’re not always friends. So don’t assume someone has it all, and is happy and immune from stress or sadness.
I was looking for the Bourdain Travel Channel commercial, and instead I found this…. Yes, that’s me in there. I’m glad I went, and that Anthony surprised us. Maybe me finding this now is a sign I’m not meant to give up on filming.