Where I Live
A-Z Index
Front Page | In-depth | Health | Heart disease
Their Story, Your Story

Sharon Gless

Sharon GlessIt was Sharon Gless's agent, Ronnie Myre, who decided she had a drink problem.

In an interview for the BBC One series, "Booze", Sharon says she believed the reason he had invited her for dinner was to tell her she was putting on weight.

She says: "We were sitting in this Malibu restaurant. It was a very "in" restaurant and there were lots of showbiz people there.

"I said 'I know you're taking me to dinner because you think I'm putting on weight'.

"And he said: 'No, that isn't why I'm taking you to dinner actually. I invited you to dinner because I love you'.

"And I said: 'Well I love you too', and he said: 'And I think you're an alcoholic.'

"I remember saying: 'Stop it, stop this, everybody is looking at me' and I was crying.

"He said: 'Let them look, I don't care. I may lose you as a client and I may lose you as a friend, but I'm afraid I'm going to lose you.' And I think he thought I was going to die."

Sharon adds: "I asked him later about it and think he saw this depression, this huge depression happening, this change of personality that I did not recognise."

Sharon says she used alcohol as a reward at the end of a hard day's filming.

"I'd work hard and the lady who dressed me, my costumier, as soon as they'd yell 'Wrap', she'd put a Styrofoam cup in my hand and it always had J&B on the rocks in it.

"We used to call it 'Sharon's apple juice' because it looked like apple juice. It just always relaxed me and it was what I looked forward to at the end of the day."

"I never thought I had a problem"  real 56k

Alcohol also helped Sharon to socialise at the many Hollywood parties she had to attend.

She says: "I now believe I am basically quite a shy person, but that drink always gave me that surge of courage socially.

"I never drank when I worked because I also was aware that drinking affected your timing and timing was, I believed, my greatest gift when I worked, whether it was comedy or drama."

Once Sharon accepted she needed help, albeit reluctantly, her doctor sent her to the Hazelden rehabilitation clinic.

Even when she was there, Sharon still found it hard to believe she actually had a problem.

She explains: "I was at Hazelden for two weeks before I could even say: 'My name is Sharon, I'm an alcoholic.' I wouldn't do it, I wouldn't say it."

It was during a visit from her husband, Barney, that Sharon finally admitted she was an addict.

"My name is Sharon and I'm an alcoholic"  real 56k

She says: "We went for a walk out in the grounds and I just thought I have to do this sooner or later or I'm never going to get out of here.

"So I said 'I have to try something out on you that I've never said before. I just have to try it out, okay? You don't have to say anything'.

"He said: 'Okay, what?' and I said: 'My name is Sharon and I'm an alcoholic.' And he said: 'I know'".

Sharon's treatment lasted seven weeks and during it, she realised that her own mother, who is now dead, was also an alcoholic.

At the time, Sharon regarded her as a social drinker, but now realises that it was more serious than that.

Her mother always had a drink in her hand, she says, adding: "That was kind of my role model".

"My mom was an alcoholic"  real 56k

The irony that she was playing an alcoholic when she was already one herself, does not escape her.

She says; "I had no idea. Absolutely none. Not a clue."

She even went to AA meetings in order to perfect her performance, but found them "uncomfortable".

She recalls: "These people kept talking about booze and I couldn't wait to get out of there to go have a drink.

"At that time, I never, never knew, never, because it was subtle and as I say, cunning. I didn't know."

She admits it was traumatic to have played an alcoholic and then find she actually was one.

She says: "That was very disturbing to me. You know, I said I don't belong here, I was just acting.

"And that's what was hard for me. I was having a very, very difficult time convincing myself that I, too, was an alcoholic."

"Hazeldean is the Harvard of rehab"  real 56k

It is now thirteen years since Sharon last had a drink, but she says she does not dwell on her alcoholism.

She explains: "I don't think about it very much to be honest with you. It means not having to wonder what time it is, is it time to have a drink?

"Do you think I could have just one more? It means not having to think about it any more. It means not having people judge me or counting how many glasses are in front of me.

"It's just a lot simpler this way. I was lucky to get out when I did."

Their Story, Your Story
Health issues
An addicts story

Their Story, Your Story
Health issues
An addicts story
^^ Back to Top
 © MMV | News Sources | Privacy