“Mom, it’s B-B-Bobby Sherman!”

July 1, 2010 at 11:11 am Leave a comment

What’s it like having a famous mom?  You’d best call Carrie Fisher, ask Ashley Judd, look to Liza Minnelli.    Not to be flip, but my mother, Peg Bracken, never considered herself a celebrity—not even after selling millions of copies of the I Hate to Cook Book and others.  Nor after making many TV commercials.  As for around-the-world promotional tours, that didn’t do it for her, either.  And the midnight phone calls from kooky fans were handled with her usual patience and aplomb.

In truth, the first inkling I had that Mom was not your average apron-wearing kitchen crusader was when I followed her to Hollywood to make TV spots for Birds Eye Foods.  You may recall the famous line:  “Hi, I’m Peg Bracken, and I hate to cook.”  We flew south from San Francisco and stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  We ordered room service.  I gorged on Belgian waffles.

Then the impossible happened.  In a nearby soundstage at Screen Gems Studios where we were filming they were making Here Come the Brides, a very popular TV series back in the late sixties.  And whom should I spy but the love of my life, Bobby Sherman.  I got an introduction.  I got an autograph.  I got goose bumps.  I got nauseous.  But I also “got it.”  Mom was a somebody.

Yet soon thereafter, our lives (and my heartrate) returned to normal.  And, despite her success, Mom ducked the limelight the rest of her life, preferring to stay home with William Butler Yeats, a cat on her lap and bourbon in hand.

Of course, she was enormously well known, right up to the day she died.  Still, even I was surprised when, within days of her passing, I began fielding phone calls from the national press.  The New York Times offered condolences and wanted to run an obituary.  The Schlesinger Library at Harvard University wanted her papers.  But line up Bobby Sherman, Brad Pitt or George Clooney, I just wanted her back.

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Heeding the Writing on the Wall Reading Mom Like a Book

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