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Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering [Kindle Edition]

Meredith Baxter
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

“I remember Sarah asking me, when I’d just begun therapy with her, what I looked for in a man.  After a few moments of silent, tense deliberation I had it.  ‘Hair,’ I blurted. ‘He has to have hair.’”
Meredith Baxter is a beloved and iconic television actress, most well-known for her enormously popular role as hippie mom, Elyse Keaton, on Family Ties. Her warmth, humor, and brilliant smile made her one of the most popular women on television, with millions of viewers following her on the small screen each week. Yet her success masked a tumultuous personal story and a harrowing private life. For the first time, Baxter is ready to share her incredible highs, (working with Robert Redford, Doris Day, Lana Turner, and the cast of Family Ties), and lows (a thorny relationship with her mother, a difficult marriage to David Birney, a bout with breast cancer), finally revealing the woman behind the image.

From her childhood in Hollywood, growing up the daughter of actress and co-creator of One Day at a Time Whitney Blake, Baxter became familiar with the ups and downs of show business from an early age. After wholeheartedly embracing the 60s counterculture lifestyle, she was forced to rely on her acting skills after her first divorce left her a 22-year-old single mother of two. Baxter began her professional career with supporting roles in the critically panned horror film Ben, and in the political thriller All the President's Men.

More lucrative work soon followed on the small screen. Baxter starred with actor David Birney as the title characters in controversial sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie. While the series only lasted a year, her high-profile romance with Birney lasted 15 volatile and unhappy years. Hiding the worst of her situation from even those closest to her, Baxter’s career flourished as her self-esteem and family crumbled. Her successful run as Nancy on Family was followed by her enormously popular role on Family Ties, and dozens of well-received television movies.

After a bitter divorce and custody battle with Birney, Baxter increasingly relied on alcohol as a refuge, and here speaks candidly of her decision to take her last drink in 1990.

And while another ruinous divorce to screenwriter Michael Blodgett taxed Baxter’s strength and confidence, she has emerged from her experiences with the renewed self-assurance, poise, and understanding that have enabled her to find a loving, respectful relationship with Nancy Locke, and to speak about it openly.

Told with insight, wit, and disarming frankness, Untied is the eye-opening and inspiring life of an actress, a woman, and a mother who has come into her own.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews Review

A Letter from Author Meredith Baxter
For about fifty of my 63 years, (that’s 79.365079365079% of my life) I was miserable. I thought I’d been a victim for most of it and, consequently, was pretty sure I was not to blame. I could save the blame for all the others who had conspired (so it seemed) to keep me down. I was the saddest girl you’d ever met and probably would have lived out my days in that sadness had I not experienced the miracle of a change in my thinking.

I thought that was worth writing about--the lessons I’ve learned--because they’ve been so many and so profound. I had to learn that, although I was indeed the center of my own life, I wasn’t necessarily the center of the lives of others. Most of you know that within your first decade, but I just took my time.

My book is about the price I paid for being so self-centered, where it all took me and how I broke the cycle of thinking that was so disastrous for me. Of course, along the way, I talk about my family, my career, my marriages and children, Family Ties and many movies. I talk about infidelity, domestic abuse, divorce, devastation and drinking my way through a few movies.

Once I get sober, all sorts of fun things start to happen. I get some great movie roles. I get married yet again. I get breast cancer and another divorce. Then, I realize I like girls. Finally, all’s well in my world and because all of these changes are so surprising and happening so fast and I don’t want to forget any of them, I decide I better write it all down.

A Look Inside Untied

Meredith in Hollywood, 1956

Bridget Loves Bernie publicity shot

Family Ties publicity shot

The twins and Meredith reading on the beach

About the Author

Meredith Baxter has been an actor for 40 years and has five children.  She achieved early success in the comedy Bridget Loves Bernie; the acclaimed ABC drama Family and the popular NBC sitcom Family Ties. Baxter makes appearances speaking on breast cancer, domestic violence, alcoholism and general life experiences.  She lives in Santa Monica, California with her partner, Nancy Locke. 

Product Details

  • File Size: 9223 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype (March 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,250 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meredith Baxter talks to many hidden women March 7, 2011
In Untied Ms. Baxter reaches out to all the women who suffer silently in lives that they feel they are trapped in. She writes of hope and love. She readily admits to her mistakes and her short-comings. It is a wonderful read and I enjoyed it in hardback and bought the audio copy because I have always loved her voice. The people who don't like this book are just not clued into what life is like for a woman who is trapped by a marriage or a life that is suffocating them. It takes a great deal of confidence to leave the security of what you know for the uncertainty of what you don't know. When self-esteem is not denegrated and smashed under the weight of the words of someone who is supposed to love you, it is difficult to realize that you really are valid. Thank You for making many abused women feel validated.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Most potential buyers of this book are likely to remember Meredith Baxter as the mother in Family Ties. But I also recall her from Family and Bridget Loves Birney (she married Birney). For awhile she seemed to be a staple for various tv movies. She did have some big screen appearances (including All the Presidents Men) but she is probably far better known as a television actress, particularly in roles centered around families.

In this memoir, Baxter opens up and reveals the person behind the persona. I'm drawn to memoirs and found this one totally engaging. It isn't a prettified or glossy overview but an open take on Baxter's childhood (rough), marriage (also rough) and her drinking problem (it took its toll).

When I watched her on television, I thought Baxter seemed to have a hard, no nonsense edge as well as a slight underlying vulnerability. She didn't come across as an ultra feminine sex symbol but definitely a reliable character actress, particularly in family dramas or comedies.

After reading Untied, I can't help wondering if her edginess was bolstered by her alcoholism. At one point she was drinking so often that she was sometimes bluntly told that she couldn't have wine on the set. She engaged in reckless behavior, although I'll leave it to readers to learn those details.

While Baxter could be rock solid in her acting career, her personal life was far more turbulent, starting from childhood. The bumpiest moments in her marriage to Birney included some revelations that I won't put in here or they would be major spoilers. She had a deep health scare at one point. She felt inferior to her college educated husband.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Honest Portrayal of a Life March 7, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thought the reviews of this book were unfair. I think it's hard to feel for Meredith for her choices, but easier when you understand she didn't know she had any. She wasn't raised to have them and so she married someone who gave her none. Whether or not you like her choices, you have to give her credit for being honest about the mistakes she's made.

The kind of abuse she alleges with David Birney is very hard to see from the outside. It's insidious and gets at the core of a woman's being, so the fact that she had five kids and became paralyzed by fear in the marriage makes sense to me. I watched a relative go through this same thing. The man always came out smelling like a rose while she looked crazy, but it's the snide little comments that wound a woman's soul.

She told this story for others who won't recognize their being abused and I commend her for it. I wasn't as interested in her career highlights or her conversion to a lesbian, but I found her childhood, marriage and battle with alcoholism (especially the fact that she didn't recognize it in herself) fascinating.

This book will help other women, and so even if you can't see her struggle and identify with it, I think it was good she wrote it for herself.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not earthshattering... March 11, 2011
By Zabadu
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Meredith had two things against her - a poor upbringing (emotionally), and being born in a time when you were "supposed" to be married and completely fulfilled by that.

What happened in the meantime was a person too afraid to change her life. Raised to feel unloved and unworthy, saddled with a less-than-stellar stepfather who basically pimped her out and tried to get her for himself, she stepped into two marriages as the result of pregnancy. Those who didn't live in those times don't know that it was "expected" of you. The only solid advice her mother ever gave her was "You don't have to do this" when she was embarking on her second marriage.

Meredith never took any time to explore how to escape her own massive insecurities, and was right when she kicked herself for making the same mistakes time and again. But she had no guidance to do any differently.

Three of her children publicly and solidly back up her stories. I think if she had been raised in these times, she would have decided long ago that she cared for women more than men. But she wasn't, and honestly, that's not even the point of this book. Who cares if she's gay, really?

The point of this book is to take a long, hard look at yourself, be courageous and live your own life, and not the life others have made for you. That's what you should take away from reading this book.

It's a quick read, and there will be times you just want to grab her and yell "grow a backbone!" She finally did, thank the lucky stars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
awesome read
Published 19 days ago by BD29
1.0 out of 5 stars Not everyone should share information about their life.
I decided to read this book after seeing her as narrator of the film "Letter to Anita".
It wasn't until the last chapter or so that Meredith acknowledged what I... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars She's made some bad relationship decisions with husbands and affairs...
A couple weeks ago I saw Meredith Baxter on "Oprah: Where are They Now" and was reminded about her memoir, which I thought would be an interesting read ... and it is. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Teena in Toronto
5.0 out of 5 stars We assume celebrities are happily married! We also assume they are...
Outstanding! We assume celebrities are happily married! We also assume they are straight! They
are just human like everyone else!
Published 1 month ago by Kay Reding
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
Miss Baxter gives an excellent review of her life . Especially poignant is her relationship with her mother Whitney Blake. Read more
Published 1 month ago by voyant5
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I really enjoyed this book. I felt it was well written and very honest. It spans her live from very young to currently.
Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
A good and interesting book.
Published 2 months ago by Yanny
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, brave, healing.
Amazing evolution of the spirit. Meredith Baxter is a smart, thoughtful writer and brave in sharing her healing process amid her life journey. A truly likeable woman and author.
Published 4 months ago by Robert-Allan Arno
1.0 out of 5 stars well--I finished it and wish her the best.
I watched Family Ties--and remember the Betty Broderick movie, also the brouhaha over the dreamy couple of Meredith ahd David. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Star
5.0 out of 5 stars couldn't put the book down
wonderful story, but gut-wrenching. Meredith really opens up about her childhood and marriages., which were really rough. Read more
Published 5 months ago by N. L. Chiappetta
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