Mariel Hemingway to speak at annual No Excuse for Abuse fundraiser
She has one of the most recognizable last names in American history and has been world-famous herself since she was a teen.
But for actress, author and mental-health advocate Mariel Hemingway, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood hold no sway.
Rather, the 61-year-old Academy Award-nominated granddaughter of Nobel Prize-winning writer Ernest Hemingway — a man she never met as he died by suicide just months before she was born in 1961 — has dedicated much of her adult life to helping others understand the connection between mental and physical health and guiding them toward a path of healing what emotionally ails them.
“My mission is to bring a hopeful, accessible message to every corner of the world,” she says.
And at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Kravis Center (701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach), she’ll be conveying that message as the featured speaker at Alpert Jewish Family Service of Palm Beach County’s 19th Annual No Excuse for Abuse fundraiser.
“Mariel will share her personal story of overcoming the legacy of mental illness, addiction and suicide in one of America’s most famous families,” said Alpert Jewish Family Service CEO Marc Hopin.
Hemingway first came to public attention at age 14 when she made her film debut in the 1976 movie “Lipstick.”
“My older sister, Margaux, had become a pretty well-known fashion model at the time and was cast as the star of the movie,” recalls Hemingway. “Her character had a younger sister — and she suggested casting me. The producers went for it and that’s how I got into acting.”
She then starred opposite a 43-year-old Woody Allen as his high-school-aged girlfriend in 1979’s “Manhattan” — a role for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Other notable starring roles included playing a bisexual track athlete in 1982’s “Personal Best” and playing Dorothy Stratten in 1983’s “Star 80” — a biopic about the actress and Playboy model’s rise to fame and subsequent murder by her estranged husband, who then took his own life.
In 1984, Hemingway married Stephen Crisman, with whom she has two adult daughters — Dree, 35, and Langley, 33.
The pair divorced in 2009.
Dree is currently pregnant and due to give birth to Hemingway’s first grandchild in March.
“I can’t wait to be a grandma!” she says.
In the 1990s, Hemingway had co-starring roles in a couple of short-lived TV series but mostly stepped back from acting in order to raise her daughters and work on her own mental and physical health.
Becoming an advocate
Hemingway’s family history of struggling with mental-health issues had long weighed on her, so she decided to explore the topic from a variety of vantage points.
“People are aware that my grandfather took his life but no one knew that his father did, and that my grandmother Hadley’s father did as well, along with several other family members — including my own sister, Margaux,” she explains. “They were beautiful, bright, vibrant people who suffered from addictions, depression, food obsessions, bulimia, OCD and, most importantly, an endless amount of creative genius. I tell my story because telling my story disengages it from the dark corners of my psyche.”
She believes that when she tells her story, it invites others to do the same, thus offering them an opportunity to make new choices as they move forward in their healing.
The first book she authored was 2002’s “Finding My Balance,” about which she says, “A life of balance isn’t typically one enormous change that equalizes all parts, but rather found in the everyday things we do. We may take these basic aspects to our lives for granted, but they are the foundation to self-knowledge and health. Food, exercise, sleep, home, meditation, water and nature are cornerstones to the peace that I have found within myself. While nothing is instantaneous, I’ve made progress through a dedication to figuring out how to become the best versions of myself.”
Her second book, “Mariel Hemingway’s Healthy Living from the Inside Out,” is a how-to guide for, as she says, “finding a greater sense of balance and meaning through self-empowering techniques and strategies.”
She and her current life partner, Bobby Williams, have been together since 2011 and make their home base Ketchum, Idaho.
In 2013, the pair co-authored the book “Running with Nature” wherein Hemingway says they share their “insights about the importance and impact of nutrition, meditation, mindfulness, movement, silence, the beauty of simple living, compassion for self and community, and staying a student of life at all ages.”
Perhaps Hemingway’s most personally revealing book was her 2015 memoir “Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family.”
In addition to detailing her family’s harrowing history, “Out Came the Sun” also discusses how being sexualized while still a teen and constantly being hit on by prominent older men in Hollywood — including Bob Fosse, Robert De Niro, Robert Towne and Woody Allen — impacted her.
She’s since turned “Out Came the Sun” into a regular podcast to further explore issues of addiction, abuse, mental illness and suicide.
“Others may not have dealt with the same kind of loss that I have, but they have potentially encountered abuses, fears, sadness and loss in other ways,” she says. “Everyone needs to be heard and my hope is that my journey helps others to feel seen and understood.”
If you go
What: Alpert Jewish Family Service’s 19th Annual No Excuse for Abuse event
When: 6-8:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5
Where: Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach
Info: Visit AlpertJFS.org, email events@AlpertJFS.org or call 561-713-1914.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Actress, author to speak about finding paths through addiction, depression, more