Rosie O'Donnell, who lost her mother to cancer just before her 11th birthday and has been a longtime advocate for motherless daughters, will be getting her own talk show on Oprah's OWN network. In an interview reprinted in the Chicago Sun-Times she talks about learning about her mother's history for an episode of the NBC show "Who Do You Think You Are?"; starting a new talk show; and being a motherless daughter. She also gives a big and very generous shout-out for Motherless Daughters, and tells the story of how I tried to contact her more than 15 years ago when I was first writing the book.
I was a guest on Rosie's Sirius radio show about a year and a half ago, and she's incredibly warm and smart and plugged in to social issues. I think she's going to do a sensational job with her new TV show.
I'll reprint an excerpt from her interview below...although I'm always uncomfortable being self-promotional like this, I'm hoping it'll help some readers. And that's always the goal. You can read the whole interview with Rosie here.
You can also watch the episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" right here. She finds another motherless daughter in her family's history--and lots else.
From "Genealogy show helps Rosie O'Donnell face mother's death" Chicago Sun-Times, February 17, 2011
O’Donnell was only 10 when she lost her beloved mom to cancer.
“Nobody mentioned my mother after she died in 1973. It was like Lord Voldemort. You couldn’t say the name,” she says. “Nobody said ‘mom’ in that house or ‘mommy’ or ‘mother’ from 1973 on. I always wanted to know who she was and what she felt like, and to have her and see her through a woman’s eyes as opposed to a child looking up to their mom.”
O’Donnell says fans approach her all the time to talk about losing mothers to cancer.
“I think no matter what age, when you lose your mom it’s your mommy,” she says. “I remember my friend Jeannie lost a mom who was in her 70s and a grandmother in her 90s and when her grandmother died, she kept calling out, ‘Mommy, mommy.’
“The bottom line is that everybody has that kind of natural, base, primal wound connection, and if it’s severed it becomes a permanent wound,” she says. “My wound is the mother-child connection. But I did find out that when you do search for your lost parent’s past that it does help heal it a little bit.”
O’Donnell has other advice.
“I’ve found that the most helpful thing I could tell anyone to do who has lost their mother is to get the Hope Edelman book Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss,” she says. “When she wrote the book in ’95, she had written me and asked if I could do an interview. I remembered thinking it was going to be cue violin background music. You know, poor celebrities whose mothers have died when they were young. If I had known what that book was really going to be, I would have participated and I would have begun my healing so much earlier.”
The comedian says that as she ages, she also laments.
“It’s weird for me to be 49 years old, a decade more than she lived. I’m getting to things that she never did, like raising teenagers.
“In some ways, she’s lucky,” she jokes.
She sobers and adds, “I’m getting to experience it all, but I don’t have a mother to call and talk to about it.”