to the Heart of Hollywood Moxie:
Candid Interview with Sally Kirkland
As I arrive to interview Sally Kirkland at
her hideaway bungalow in Malibu, I see the actress coming up the
beach toward me, toweling off the salt water from her swim. At 5'9",
Sally is statuesque in a 1950s style suit with broad navy and white
stripes. She greets me with a warm smile, then brushes strands of
blond hair away with the back of her hand and invites me in out
of the wind.
While I set up my tape recorder, Sally cuts
and nibbles an orange for a fruit salad. She tells me to make myself
comfortable and I look around the small living room. On a shelf
stuffed with books, I notice titles like, Leonard Maltin's Movie
and Video Guide and Autobiography of a Yogi. I'm reminded
of Sally's web site, where I learned that Paramahansa Yogananda's
book launched the performer's quest for spiritual perfection and
understanding. As a student of and instructor for Hatha yoga master,
Swami Satchidananda, Sally has entered extended periods of silence,
celibacy and strict diets-a unique regime for an actress who has
played the mother of heart-throb Matthew McConaughey and Tracey
in Days of Our Lives.
Before she was an actress, Sally was a go-go
dancer at the Peppermint Lounge. "I think the Mafia owned it," she
giggles. "They would come in and throw money at my feet. You would
see their guns in their holsters. That was pretty exciting - twisting
in front of these cowboys - these gangsters."
By the time Sally turned 18, she'd gotten
into the Actors Studio. Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino were also in
class. "I ended up bringing Bobby De Niro to the Studio too. (He'd
dated my roommate.) We became very close friends."
John Roger tapes and Bob Dylan recordings
are her ritual preparation for a scene. She follows Lee Strasberg's
method acting. "You bring yourself to a place where you do an emotional
recall. Or you smell what you smelled, see what you saw, hear what
you heard, feel what you felt. I taught Barbara Streisand how to
cry on cue 'cause she had some singing scenes to her father coming
up in Yentl."
Now, Sally appears on Felicity as her art
professor, Annie Sherman. Her plans include playing a role in the
CBS TV movie, the Jon Benet Story, Perfect Murder, Perfect
Diversity has been the name of the game in
Sally's career. She has played everything from a character in Oliver
Stone's JFK to The Women Who Loved Elvis with Roseanne.
But when all is said and done, Sally is most proud of her Oscar
nominated portrayal of the aging Czechoslovakian actress, Anna in
the film by that name. The Foreign Press presented her with a Golden
Globe for playing that part.
"I think I'm more European in personality.
My attitude is always one of sensuality, aggressive enthusiasm and
a kind of outrageousness in my expression. I suppose if I wanted
to be the girl next door, I could have. I think America is a little
too confused by someone who appears to be sexual and spiritual at
the same time."
Sally's abundant energy also finds its expression
in The Kirkland Institute for Implant Survival Syndrome. KIISS provides
support and research for women dealing with breast implant complications.
Problems with her own implants led Sally to have them removed in
Days after her breast reduction, Sally went
on The Howard Stern Show. "I know millions of people listen
to him. I got out key points, like Dow Corning in the '60s had been
developing the silicon as a potential cockroach insecticide and
riot patrol fluid." The actress is grateful too for the controversial
TV host's invite to his show. "Thanks to Howard, my web site immediately
received 22,000 hits. And I've been able to help women and their
concerned husbands ever since." The roster of service projects on
www.sallykirkland.com is almost as long as her list of film credits.
"My life is not about acting. It's about
expressing my vision of life. No matter what, everyone deserves
a fair shot."
Heart of Hollywood Moxie: Sally Kirkland
Copyright 1999 * Kim Knode All Rights Reserved