Straight to the Heart of Hollywood Moxie: A 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 white and navy 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. Iím reminded of Sallyís 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 Mc Conaughey 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 gangsters."

By the time Sally turned 18, she'd gotten into the Actors Studio. Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino were also in her class. "I ended up bringing Bobby De Niro to the Studio too. (He'd dated my roommate.) We became 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 Barbra 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 Town.

Diversity has been the name of the game in Sally's career. She's 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 been. I think America is confused by someone who appears to be sexual and spiritual at the same time."

Sally's abundant energy also finds 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 1998.

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 Sally's list of film credits.

"My life is not about acting," she reflects. "It's about expressing my vision of life. No matter what, everyone deserves a fair shot."


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