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“I was always the new kid with this strange name,” Swoosie Kurtz tells us when describing her childhood as a military brat with an unusual first name (which, in case you’ve been mispronouncing it for decades like we have, rhymes with “juicy,” not “woozy”). Her new memoir is called Part Swan, Part Goose and follows the 100 percent original life that Kurtz has carved out for herself as a Tony- and Emmy-winning actress, unapologetically devoting herself to her art while eventually becoming a caretaker to her now-99-year-old mother.
In this episode of Off the Cuff Kurtz takes us through her only-child upbringing as the daughter of the most decorated pilot in WWII and an esteemed author. (“They were my best friends, my confidants,” she says of her parents, before admitting, “My childhood would probably seem to a child psychologist like hell.”) She tells us about falling in love with acting at the famous Hollywood High (“There was a Playboy bunny in my class”) and her years hanging out at the Fillmore East in New York, where her boyfriend, artist Josh White, did light shows for Jimi Hendrix (“Being in the middle of the hippest place in the world, we were the squarest two people”).
She also opens up about how she “never had the marriage radar out” and why deciding not to have children “doesn’t make you an evil person.”
“As a woman you really feel you have to apologize for it, and I just don’t anymore,” she says with a shrug before we move on to another topic of firebrand feminism — the show that made her a household name across America in the ‘90s, Sisters.
“It’s so hard to imagine now but you could not say the word ‘orgasm’ on television,” she remembers when we discuss the pilot’s controversial first scene of the sisters sitting around a sauna describing the most number of orgasms they’ve ever had. “I think it was years before people even knew we had them!” she laughs.
When we mention that her current show, CBS’ Mike & Molly, has been renewed for a sixth season, she could not sound more thrilled to be at this point in her career.
“Unbelievable!” she exclaims. “It may surpass Sisters!”
Listen to Kurtz’s full interview in this episode of Off the Cuff, and be sure to subscribe to #THRpodcasts on iTunes for all the latest episodes.
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