BBC web pages‎ > ‎

Faces of the week (Friday 10 March, 2006)


Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are TERI HATCHER(main picture), with JOSE MOURINHO, RACHEL WEISZ, MARGARET ATWOOD and GEORGE CLOONEY.

TERI HATCHER

Teri Hatcher this week revealed that she had suffered sexual abuse as a child. BBC News takes a look at the highs and lows of this comeback queen of American telly:

It was F Scott Fitzgerald who once said, "There are no second acts in American lives." Teri Hatcher is one of a group of luminaries - Rob Lowe, Kirstie Alley and Robert Downey Jnr are others - to have confounded this damning prediction with a career that has reached new heights at an age when most US actresses are reaching for their pension-books.

Surprising success

Playing Susan Meyer in the post-modern comedy-drama Desperate Housewives has made Teri Hatcher, once again, a household name on both sides of the Atlantic.

Alongside her neighbours on Wisteria Lane, the actress has made television alchemy out of the doubts and insecurities of a seemingly perfect life in the picket-fenced suburbs.

Desperate Housewives has triumphed in the US ratings
Hatcher's glamorous but klutzy portrayal of Susan - highlights have included being discovered by her admirer Mike in Carry On-esque pose, naked in the rosebush of her front garden - has revealed the actress's comic timing to superb effect, and garnered her a Screen Actors' Guild Award, as well as a coveted Golden Globe.

The success of the show has been both a surprise and a godsend to Teri Hatcher. Her earlier success, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, had been a massive television hit and made Hatcher a male fantasy figure bar none.

Problems finding a date

In the mid-1990s, a photo of her wearing Superman's cape became one of the most frequently downloaded images in the world.

But it had finished a decade before, and she was having trouble getting auditions, never mind jobs. Rare appearances in Seinfeld and Frasier were not paying the mortgage. Attaining the pinnacle of glamour - playing a Bond girl in 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies - did not lead to anything more substantial.

Hatcher's outing as a Bond girl didn't herald a career in film
Her personal life has been no more stable. In 2003, she was divorced from actor Jon Tenney, her second husband and father of her eight-year-old daughter, Emerson. Since then, Hatcher's romantic portfolio has resembled that of her Housewives character.

As a single divorced forty-something mother, she has waxed lyrical about the problems of finding a date in the youth-obsessed Hollywood.

And she has had to combat media accusations that her quest for Mr Right has made her an unfit parent. Last year, she successfully sued the British tabloid, the Daily Sport, for trying to "egregiously attack an area of my life which I give top priority".

Troubled past

Her most recent escort was rumoured to be the ubiquitous George Clooney but both parties have been tight-lipped on this. Whoever he may have been, the situation resolved itself in, according to Hatcher, the usual fashion - "being romanced, opening up, dumped".

But there is a far darker side to this tale of romantic woe. Teri Hatcher grew up in Sunnyvale, California, the only child of an engineer and a computer programmer, and traces her relationship problems to the abuse she suffered as a child.

She revealed only this month that, between the ages of five and eight, she was sexually assaulted by her aunt's husband, Richard Hayes Stone.

Fellow comeback queen Nicolette Sheridan
In a classic example of how an abused child can be made to feel, young Teri never discussed the subject with her parents, instead blaming herself and even entertaining thoughts of suicide.

And in 2001, the actress discovered that another young girl had been assaulted by Stone and had gone on to kill herself.

This tragedy, and the fact that without a principal witness, chances of his being convicted were slim, forced Hatcher to report her own experience to police and Stone was given a 14-year prison sentence.

Palpable vulnerability

In somewhat of a damning indictment of the pressure on America's celebrities, Hatcher was initially reluctant to involve herself in the case, fearing that cynical media minds would think she was trying to boost her then flagging career. And when she did, she demanded anonymity.

With a Golden Globe under her belt, this is no longer an issue. And many people are already glad she has now uncovered her troubled past.

Hatcher: Behind the glamorous image, a troubled past
The NSPCC's head of policy and public affairs, Natalie Cronin, told the BBC, "Three-quarters of sexually abused children don't speak out at the time. They show their pain in many ways - some take overdoses, have nightmares, slit their wrists.

"Celebrities can help break down the silence of abuse. They can play a crucial role in encouraging children to speak out about their maltreatment."

Teri Hatcher has said that she blames this episode in her life for her inability to "trust or commit to men, or to anyone, really". But this palpable vulnerability has also secured her a place in the affections of the huge worldwide audiences of her current Desperate Housewives.

On-screen vixen Nicolette Sheridan describes her doe-eyed co-star as "very engaging, beautiful, smart and grateful - which I think people sense and love her for".

Teri Hatcher may certainly give thanks for this current high in her roller-coaster career but the ebbs and flows of her professional success, as well as the trials away from the camera, have given her a strength belied by her tiny frame and Bambi-like gaze.

She says, "I know that this could all be over next week, and I know that I'd be OK."


JOSE MOURINHO

The Portuguese manager came under fire on Tuesday for his graceless reaction to Chelsea's defeat in Barcelona. And on Wednesday Chelsea were charged with losing control of their players at last weekend's game against West Bromwich Albion. Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff said of Mourinho, "He thinks everything is a war and it's not." But Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said of his manager, "There is nothing I would change about him."

 

RACHEL WEISZ

The actress was among the British triumphs at this year's Oscars, winning best supporting actress for her activist role in The Constant Gardener, a film about corporate corruption in Kenya. A UN official praised Weisz's victory as important for Africa, and the actress herself, who earlier starred in Stealing Beauty and The Mummy, praised those who fight injustice in impoverished countries, calling them "greater men and women than I".

MARGARET ATWOOD

The Canadian novelist sat in London and signed books for her readers in America and Canada. The Man Booker prize-winner found her last international signing tour too gruelling and persuaded engineers to devise the LongPen. Now the author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin writes her name on a special tablet, and a robotic arm replicates her signature wherever it is needed, what Atwood calls a "transatlantic autograph".

 
GEORGE CLOONEY

George Clooney collected the best supporting actor Oscar for his role in Syriana, and joked with the Hollywood audience, "I guess this means I'm not getting best director." Sure enough, his film Good Night and Good Luck lost out in other categories, but Clooney remained elated by the recognition for his work. He said, "I'm proud to be part of this Academy; I'm proud to be part of this community."

Compiled by BBC News Profiles Unit's Caroline Frost