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Love Is a Many Splendored Thing

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"After polio and divorce, Constance Towers discovers, through her children: Life is Really A Many Splendored Thing.

Constance Towers avoids people who are negative and antagonistic. "They come in and immediately look at the glass that's half empty, instead of seeing it as half full."

A divorcee the past few years, she has been struggling to be both mother and father to her son Michael, 11, and daughter Maureen, 10. And she says, happily, "My children are so flexible. They make every adjustment, and with such good cheer! And they remind me that the glass is haf filled rather than half empty."

Life has been bittersweet for Constance, who recently became Marian Hiller, wife of Dr. Sanford Hiller (played by Stephen Joyce) on Love is a Many Splendored Thing.

Born Cosntance Mary Towers on a May 20 in the town of Whitefish, Mont., she was part of a closely-knit, happy Irish-Catholic family. Her dad, Harry J. Towers, was in the drug business and moved often. Constance remembers living in Missoula, Mont.; Moscow, Idaho; Spokane, and then Seattle, Wash. By 10, she was singing on radio, and by 12, she was singing operatic arias. After studying at the Julliard School of Music in New York, she went into show business.

Then, suddenly, in 1956, she was felled by polio and was warned she'd never walk again. "I recovered, although I was unable to walk for eight months." Fortunately, only her right leg was affected and therapy cured that. It was a disaster, but Constance looks back on the illness as giving her "time out to think." She saw the glass as half filled."

Three years after the polio attack, she married handsome millionaire Eugene McGrath, who didn't object to her career. In time, they separated and divorced, ("a problem, because I'm Catholic") and she concentrated on her career.

Six years ago, she gave up her Hollywood home and moved to New York to do a show, Anya. She was separated from her husband at the time, and had guilt feelings about working, but she told herself, "I'm a woman, and I don't have a husband, and it's not how much time I spend with my children that counts, but how I spend the time."

She has tried, diligently, to improve the quality of the time she spends with her youngsters Michael and Maureen.

"I wake them up, and they have breakfast, and they go off to school. And I'm home when they come home for dinner."

The first thing Michael does when he comes home is to ask, "Mom here?" and when he sees her, he's satisfied, and goes off to play with his friends.

Michael spent the summer in Athens, Greece, with the Cannon family, which lives next door in the Towers' midtown apartment house in New York. And Maureen had a marvelous summer singing in "The Sound of Music" which starred her mother, at the Jones Beach, Long Island, amphitheatre.

"Maureen, who had never sung before, auditioned for the role, and won it," explains Constance, proudly. "I've never pushed my children into show business."

Constance, a ravishingly beautiful blue-eyed blonde, has tried very hard to make the children feel comfortable about her career. "When I'm in a play, I take them to my dressing room, and show them around so they know where I go when I leave them every evening. I want them to have a mental picture of where I am, so they don't feel abandoned."

As a result, Michael and Maureen have a great sense of participation in her life and career. When they know she doesn't have to get up early certain mornings, they let her sleep late. "Some day," she smiles, "my children will be explaining how they raised their mother so beautifully."

Their New York apartment is crowded with fine paintings and religious statues from Mexico, but the kids have plenty of space for casual fun. They play basketball with the kids next door, in their room and the terraces, and Constance often takes them into the nearby park for ballplaying, hiking, and bicycle riding. They often go to the many museums. "The city has so much to offer," says Constance, who lived for many years in Hollywood and once occupied the Beverly Hills mansion that Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh built. "I sold that house to Tony Newley and Joan Collins, and they in turn sold it to Sammy Davis."

New York is good for Constance and her children. "My father, now president of the Associated Chain Drug Stores, and my mother live here, and my sister Lucille, who has three sons, just moved back to New York."

She shops in the supermarket, and she cooks. Although she has a lady who helps run the household, she insists on doing "everything a mother does...I find there's no way to stay within my budget if I didn't do my own shopping."

Working on her first daytime serial has been another joy in her life. "I'm crippled on the show, and in a wheelchair, and married to Stephen Joyce, who's having an affair with Betsy Chernak (Andrea Marcovicci). Stephen Joyce has been wonderful to work with."

She was pleasantly surprised when she sang at a recent club date. "I was introduced as having been in many movies and Broadway shows, and supper clubs, and having made records...but when they mentioned my being on Love is a Many Splendored Thing, the audience got up and screamed!"

More than 15 years of big-time movie-stage-music work apparently didn't have the impact of one daytime serial!

For Constance Towers, life really is a many splendored thing"

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Thanks. What do you use to put your pictures up?

I really liked the article. I never knew she had polio. She really seems to have fought a long time for both conventional and unconventional ways. I also never knew that she lived in the same house as Joan Collins (at different times). I wonder who has it now.

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A few years ago on the Ovation network, they aired a Biography-type program with Joan Collins that looked like a UK import. In it, she traveled around Hollywood with a camera crew making various stops including her star on the Walk of Fame and the house mentioned in that article. It was of course a nice home and she pointed out the conversation pit that Sammy David had installed. They showed file footage of her, Tony, and the kids playing by the pool, etc. They didn't mention who lived there at the time, but Joan was gracious enough to say that the present decor was "not to (her) taste" and kindly pointed out a dried lifeless arrangement in a vase with, "What lovely flowers. :rolleyes: "

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BTW, I found the mention of CT's Mexican art interesting given her next husband's occupation.

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Thanks. What do you use to put your pictures up?

I really liked the article. I never knew she had polio. She really seems to have fought a long time for both conventional and unconventional ways. I also never knew that she lived in the same house as Joan Collins (at different times). I wonder who has it now.

I've had those pictures on my computer for awhile. I think I might have scanned them for someone several years ago. I post my pictures to photobucket and link to them from there.

It was a very interesting article and I love the color pictures. She is so beautiful and very photogenic.

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BTW, I found the mention of CT's Mexican art interesting given her next husband's occupation.

I thought so too. I wonder if she was dating him at the time, seeing that they got married only a few years after that article was written.

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Donna Mills looks so old in that pic! Like present day Angie Dickinson. And Grace Albertson looks like Miss Jane Hathaway.

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Yes Grace Albertson does look like that.

Donna's character was a nun at this time so I guess she was modest.

It's sad that this was the highwater mater for Nancy Hsueh, and generally, for Amerasian actors in daytime.

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I have wonderful memories of 'Love is a Many Splendored Thing.' Andrea Marcovicci has performed in my area many times, but, alas, my health issues have prevented me from seeing her. The last time, I actually had tickets for one of her performances, and, ironically, it was my wife who ended up in the hospital (with emergency gall bladder surgery.

Bibi Besch graduated from the same high school as my mother.

Meredith Baxter has come out (no pun intended) with a new book that details the spousal abuse she suffered at the hands of her former husband and co-star David Birney. i remember the series so well, 'Bridget Loves Bernie,' where the two met. It was quite controversial back in the day...a Catholic girl marrying a Jewish guy, I was brought up Catholic and enjoyed the show tremendously.

Of course, I love David Birney since we happen to share the same birthday.

I've always been keenly sensistive to domestic violence issues. A dear friend of mine was a victim of domestic violence and, sadly, spent 8 years in state prison. One night, her boyfriend had his hands wrapped around her neck in a bar, threatening to kill her. Both had been drinking. They went home, my friend blacked out, and when she came to, she found her boyfriend stabbed to death.

She, initially, thought that it was a suicide and told the police. Sadly, it was not ruled a suicide, and my friend was arrested. To this day, 13 years after this terrible night, my friend does not remember the incident at all. She does remember fearing for her life, and was convinced that she was going to end up dead.

She had been with this guy for quite some time. He was a volunteer fireman and his nickname was 'Hot Pie' because he liked pizza.

As any Psychology book will tell you, most domestic violence cases will involve a person who goes from one violent situation to another. My friend, as it turns out, fits the psychological mudel to a tee. We all remmember the late Farrah Fawcett's chilling performance in the TV movie 'The Woman in the Burning Bed,' in which her husband set the bedon fire with her in it. Well, the same thing happened to my friend when she was with her (first) husband.

So, I am aware of domestic violence.

We may never truly know what happened to Meredith Baxter and David Birney. None of us are privy to what goes on behind closed doors. On one hand, I want to side with David Birney, but his silence, so far, about Meredith's upcoming book speaks volumes. Meredith has always portrayed strong women in all her TV and TV movie roles, so, I find it a little bit hard to believe that she was not as strong in real life.

I will buy the book and make my determination then.

We shall see...

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I'm sorry about your friend.

I hadn't heard of this book Meredith is writing - that should be interesting.

Did you see Andrea when she had a small role on GH last year?

I have some other LiaMST stuff I will post when I get it together.

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The book Meredith is writing is entitld 'Untied.' If she had not portrayed so many strong women, I would be more willing to accept her story at face value. I am going to reserve judgment until I read the book.

I've always been a David Birney fan. It will be interesting to see how he responds, and in what manner.

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I found this article today (March 5). After reading this, I tend to believe David Birney...

David Birney is denying that he abused ex wife, Meredith Baxter. Meredith, who recently penned a tell-all book about her life, claims that she suffered physical and verbal abuse by her ex husband during their 16-year marriage.

Birney tells People Magazine that the claims are "an appalling abuse of the truth" and referred to Baxter's new book as "a kind of fairy tale."

David Birney says he remembers their relationship much differently. In fact, after their divorce, which was over 20 years ago, he claims Meredith Baxter tried to get sole custody of their three children by making up false allegations against him.

"During that time she arrived in court repeatedly with various lawyers and several therapists, 'recovered memories,' accusations of abuse – a common charge in custody disputes – and tales of our life together that bore little resemblance to truth – a mean spirited process that battered us all, especially the children," Birney said. "The court denied her suit on every occasion. This current recycled version of our family story is no more credible now than it was then."

After 20 years this divorce is nastier than ever. It's hard to know which one to believe. Although, why would Meredith Baxter lie about David Birney's abuse now? Their children are grown, and they have no legal obligation to each other. Unfortunately this situation may get uglier before it gets better.

Edited by edgeofnight

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