Non-Hollywooder: Spacek can eat lunch in this town again

Getting dressed for a party at the White House in the early 1980s, Sissy Spacek and husband Jack Fisk were donning their formal apparel at a posh Washington hotel when they suddenly realized they'd rather be back home in Albemarle in blue jeans. Furthermore, they needed to meet their daughter's kindergarten teacher in the morning.

“Do we really want to do this?” says one.

“No, do you?” answers the other, as they begin packing up to go home.

Such are the back-to-hearth struggles that constitute much of My Extraordinary Ordinary Life, Spacek's new memoir written with former Albemarle resident and bestselling author Maryanne Vollers and published by Hyperion.

"I really did this for my girls, Schuyler and Madison," says the actress and mom, explaining why she spent a year making roadtrips and visiting "old haunts" before time dims her memory.

At 62, she's reached the age at which her mother died– an event, along with a brother's premature death to leukemia, that stands as rare setbacks in a life charmed by loving family, a wholesome hometown in the pine woods of Texas, and a long, happy marriage. As for the daughters, they're both following their parents into artistic careers, and now have the benefit of a written roadmap.

The book counterposes humorous scenes at the Charlottesville Whole Foods Market with a bucolic family life among chickens, dogs, cats, and ponies on a Keswick-area farm. And there are occasional trips to Hollywood to pick up such things as Golden Globes and an Academy Award, the latter earned in 1981 for the lead in Coal Miner's Daughter.

In one of the book's cuter anecdotes, Spacek relates that playing Loretta Lynn produced a telegram from another popular country singer, the one sometimes known as the queen of Pigeon Forge: “Dear Sissy, I hope you make millions of dollars from Coal Miner’s Daughter so that you can get a boob job and do the Dolly Parton story.”

Spacek reveals how she set off for Manhattan the summer before college with her trusty 12-string guitar and the hopes of a musical career. As it turns out, she ditches both music and college just as they're starting– and, as her film career takes off, never regrets the decisions.

And, anyway, she learned how to be the homecoming queen back at Quitman High School, something that helped prepare for her blood-soaked 1976 breakout in Brian DePalma's classic Carrie. Even music would roar back into her career as she didn't just play Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter; she sang Lynn's songs.

Spacek has managed to defy Hollywood's early-retirement rule for actresses, and one gets the sense that the non-Tinseltown address helps her remain selective. In recent years, her choices include a much-lauded role in the indie hit In the Bedroom; and most recently, she stole scenes and won the Screen Actor's Guild award as the mom of the town racist in last year's supremely successful The Help.

Despite a fun sing-along with Lynn, the woman who helped launch the 2005 opening of what's now known as the nTelos Wireless Pavilion concedes that she now confines her singing to the shower and occasional backings for her eldest daughter's budding work as a singer-songwriter.

"I had this idea for a whistle-stop tour where Schuyler and I go out and sing and play music," says still Texas-twanged Spacek, insisting that she's "gonna try to be quiet and behave" at the upcoming book-signing, which kicks off an eight-city tour.

For locals accustomed to keeping a respectful distance, the Tuesday night event at Barnes & Noble affords anyone willing to invest $26.99 a rare chance, without breaking the unwritten Charlottesville code, to get an autograph.

"It's just been such a beautiful gift to live here with a certain level of anonymity," says Spacek between recounting tales of the idyllic childhood in Texas and the one transplanted for a new generation in Central Virgina.

"I tried," she explains, "to recreate my childhood here for my girls."
Spacek will sign copies of My Extraordinary Ordinary Life beginning at 7pm on May 1 at Barnes & Noble at the Barracks Road Shopping Center.

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I'm a big fan of Spacek and wish her well with her new book. I would have told her this in person last time I saw her but I believe in the "code" as well. The code is respect for people you admire to not have their personal life unnecessarily interrupted. So if you see them in a supermarket you don't bother them, if you lucky to be introduced that's different.

So just remember the lines will be long and be considerate of those on line behind you

famous folks like to live here b/c most people around here are so self-absorbed that they don't notice the celebrities walking amongst them.


That, and they're so busy self righteously railing against every little petty thing that they don't like or which contradicts their inflated egos in some way. Never seen a town so full of complainers and angry activists.

That aside, I've yet to ever actually see Ms. Spacek when I'm out and about. She seems like a really nice person and I admire her as an actress. (Coal Miner's Daughter still bowls me over. Incredible job in that movie aging from a 13 year old to a woman in her 30s, with the physical changes and voice/mannerism changes that go with it, as well as performing all the songs herself and bearing an uncanny resemblance to Loretta Lynn in certain scenes.) I think it would be cool to glimpse her around town one of these days.

My father waited on her years ago in the old Peoples
Pharmacy. He wasn't a movie goer so someone had
to tell him he was waiting on a famous actress. He
asked her "Made any movies lately?" He was from Texas

I have my own code, mind my own business and don't go out of my way to ingratiate my self to self righteous dolts.

She sometimes pulls a baseball cap down over her eyes.

I've seen Ms. Spacek and her girls out and about several times, though not recently, when the girls were in their tweenie years. I smiled and said hi once or twice, but no more than I would have anyone else who looked familiar but wasn't really known. After all, because she works as an actress, why should I have a right to invade her privacy any more than she had a right to intrude on my time with my kids? I respect her far more than actors and actresses who have the need to be in the spotlight and make headlines. I look forward to reading her book.

I would certainly approach her and tell her if I admired her work if she were not doing anything. I would not interrupt her at a dinner table or engrossed in conversation. This is manners: if I see someone with a nice car, I might approach them and tell them what I think of their car. Such "invasions" are the price one pays for fame. I do not think approaching her in the aisle at a supermarket constitutes breaking some "code." I find it amusing that stars--who make millions because of money spent by non-stars--enjoy their "anonymity" until they need to sit at a table signing books at $27 a pop.

@ Booo...okay, Ann Arbor, Cambridge, Boulder, Berkeley, Ames, Swarthmore, Burlington....lots of towns with complainers and angries. See the common thread?

I do find it interesting that the first Spacek anecdote mentions her and husband ditching a "party at The White House in the early '80s." Not so sure if they would have so quickly ditched a party at The White House in 1994 or 2010. But that might be the cynic in me, right?

R.I.P.: Gabby Hayes

Ironic that some forget where in fact they got their fame and fortune came from in the first place. I guess it never dawned on their elitist minds it came from the unwashed masses.

My son made her a sandwich at a local sandwich shop. He knew who she was, and kept the code. His biggest fear that was knives from the kitchen would start flying from their places and he would be drenched in blood if he did not just say "T
hank you!" Ms Spacek. Thanks Sissy, you are a great neighbor.

LiberalAce writes "Ann Arbor, Cambridge, Boulder, Berkeley, Ames, Swarthmore, Burlington....lots of towns with complainers and angries. See the common thread?...the first Spacek anecdote mentions her and husband ditching a 'party at The White House in the early '80s.' Not so sure if they would have so quickly ditched a party at The White House in 1994 or 2010. But that might be the cynic in me, right?"

College towns are known for a lot of things, but "complainers and angries" are not typically on the list. And can you really blame Sissy Spacek and her husband for ditching a White House party in the early 1980s when it was occupied by a Grade B actor who foisted onto the country supply-side economic policies that piled up deficits and debt and morphed the U.S. into the world's greatest debtor nation? Even a cynic should understand.

respice finem: Ronald Reagan