I'm Walking as Straight as I Can: Transcending Disability in Hollywood and Beyond

I'm Walking as Straight as I Can: Transcending Disability in Hollywood and Beyond

Language: English

Pages: 252

ISBN: 1550228838

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Born with cerebral palsy, Geri Jewell inspired a generation of young people when she became the first person with a disability to appear in a recurring role on prime-time television, with her groundbreaking character, Cousin Geri, on the NBC sitcom The Facts of Life. The book’s title — I’m Walking As Straight As I Can — has a double meaning, referring to both Jewell’s sexuality and her extraordinary struggle growing up with cerebral palsy. This candid memoir details her experiences from her traumatic birth in Buffalo, New York, to her rise to stardom as a stand-up comic to becoming a television star. She documents the harsh realities of show business by recounting the relentless discrimination and abuse she suffered at the hands of people she trusted. Her experiences in the shark-infested waters of Hollywood led her on a journey from the Comedy Store to the White House, followed by a downward spiral, tax problems, drug addiction, marriage, and an accident that nearly claimed her life. When Deadwood creator David Milch recognized Jewell at a pharmacy, he offered her a role in his new HBO series on the spot, and she began to find hope and happiness once again. I’m Walking As Straight As I Can is an inspiring story, told with grace and self-deprecating humor, one that gives readers a rare glimpse of true courage and perseverance.

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Saturday night? If you do get healed, you won’t have an act, so either way, you’re in deep shit!” I knew he had a point, but the show must go on. Saturday night arrived quickly enough, and John came by to pick me up around 8:30 p.m. We decided it was better to get there early, rather than late. The traffic to Los Angeles from Orange County was always unpredictable. We figured if we got there too early, we could just go to Denny’s to kill some time. I kissed my mom goodbye, and both she and

difference between the two of them was that although they both lied to me, C.W. always had my best interest at heart. George, on the other hand, only had his own interests in mind, and was driven by greed and deception. Chapter Ten Another Suitcase, Another Hall I didn’t always know where I was moving, and nobody else did either. I was a nomad. One of the reasons I could move so easily to Los Angeles was because I didn’t have furniture to haul; the bulkiest thing I had was my ten-speed

walking back to my car, I made up some dialogue in my mind so that I could drive away with a little dignity intact. That evening, I told Metcalf that the butler said Carol was out of town. Of course, I wasn’t even sure she had a butler, but it sounded good. I reassured him that I would try again, but I had no intention of ever returning to Alpine Drive. To this day, I am not really sure if it actually was her house. C.W. did have the propensity to lie. For all I know, he could have gotten the

were claiming that their values were the only ones that mattered. In fact, looking at how the world is today, with America polarized once again, I would love to see an I Love Liberty II. Lear created yet another showcase for me with Liberty, as I played the role of the American Disabled Person. Liberty was a huge production where I was working alongside many celebrities that I had grown up with and was in awe of. Among them were Mary Tyler Moore, Martin Sheen, Shirley MacLaine, Patty Duke,

made any difference. One thing I do know, though, is that Norman Lear cared enough to pick up the phone on my behalf. That in itself meant the world to me. I knew I had at least one more episode to film to fulfill my contract, but after being told by Charlotte that “they” didn’t want me on the show anymore, I didn’t quite know what to expect. However, halfheartedly, I was hoping that perhaps Norman’s influence would create a change of attitude, and perhaps a renewed appreciation for my worth. I

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