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Learning about stars on Biography

July 3, 2011
By KATHRYN SPIRA , For The Leader Herald

As you guys know, I've been talking about Morgan Freeman lately and what I've learned about him and his beginnings as an actor from the Biography channel.

This is a new channel for me, and I'm delighted at what I've found.

I had Herman scroll through the variety of stars covered on the channel and was intrigued to find that my old pal Julia Roberts was listed. So I obviously tuned into that one next.

I already knew she had been raised in Smyrna, Ga., and that her first film role was in the independently produced "Mystic Pizza." That was about the time I knew her in New York City and later caught up with her in California at a birthday party for a mutual friend.

It was during this time in New York City when she was engaged to Jason Patrick and I was engaged to a guy named Brad, also an actor, but it wasn't until years later in L.A. when she was with Kiefer Sutherland and I was with a man named Dana that we ruefully laughed about our bad choices in men back then.

The Biography channel touched on each relationship Julia had, noting one of the strangest was her marriage to country singer Lyle Lovett. Though in simple terms, Julia simply loved him. This and other relationships she had came after we had lost touch.

I also watched the Biography of James Dean, the quirky actor who died in a sportscar accident, and learned he was always taking chances, both in his art and his relationships. What surprised me was he was bisexual in a time that really didn't accept that and I had never heard that before. He was accepted into the prestigious Actor's Studio, but quit when a film part in "East of Eden" came his way, where he was nearly cast opposite Paul Newman, who interestingly didn't make it into the film.

The point being, I've learned a lot of little known facts about stars before they became stars.

Any experiences I had with stars came through waiting on them in restaurants and bars or working with them before they got their big breaks, as I have previously told you guys about with Edie Falco, Michael Chiklis and Anthony Bourdain. I knew Julia through a mutualfriend.

Biographies I've taped and am looking forward to seeing include Danny DeVito, Chevy Chase, Rosie O'Donnell, Bill Cosby, The Who and Genesis.

Some of the bios cover a show, cast, or music group and not just individual stars. Check out the channel for yourselves. Who knows, you might find some of your favorites as I have.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at



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