BootLeg Betty

BetteBack August 14, 1988: The Year Of Barbara Hershey

Galveston, Texas
August 14, 1988

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – After winning two consecutive bestactress awards from the Cannes Film Festival, Barbara Hershey seems ready for what her supporters believe is an overdue nod fro m th e Motio n Pictur e Academy.

It could have happened last year as the bayou mother in “Shy People,” for which she won her first Cannes prize. But as she herself admits, nobody saw the picture.

This year Hershey was co-winner for her portrayal as the antiapartheid activist in “A World Apart.” That could be her run for an Academy Award. Or maybe, if the Academy voters dare, as Mary Magdalene in “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

Or maybe for a comedy role in “Beaches,” which she is now filming with Bette Midler.

In any case, 1988 appears to be the year of Barbara Hershey.

She has been in films since her debut in 1968 with Doris Day in “With Six You Get Eggroll.” Hollywood refused to take her seriously after she became Barbara Seagull during a free-form liaison with David Carradine which resulted in a son, named Free. Still, she had a series of impressive performances in “Last Summer,” “The Baby Maker,” “Box Car Bertha” and “The Stunt Man.”

Producers began to take notice with “The Right Stuff” and “The Natural.” But her real turning point was Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters.” “All of a sudden I was OK to hire.”

Typical of Hershey, she continues accepting non-mainstream films and devoting excessive time to research them. For “Shy People,” she traveled to the backwater bayous of Louisiana and studied the Cajun speech and lifestyle. For “A World Apart” she interviewed relatives and friends of Ruth First, her character in the film.

First, a journalist and political activist, was imprisoned in 1963 under South Africa’s 90-day Detention Act, the first white woman to be so punished. The script was written by Shawn i>lovo, who is portrayed in the film as a 13-year-old girl. First remained an activist in exile, and in 1982 was killed by a letter bomb.

“She was a great woman, but she wasn’t an easy woman to those around her,” said the actress at the Santa Monica canyon
home she shares with her son now called Tom.

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