Do moms really know best? The Doctors enlist the help of iconic TV moms to find out! Family Ties’ Meredith Baxter, The Wonder Years’ Alley Mills, Home Improvement’s Patricia Richardson and Family Matters’ JoMarie Payton share their wisdom!
• Hear life lessons that the TV moms learned from the characters they portrayed.
Meredith Baxter’s Off-Set Struggles
In the early 1980s, actress Meredith Baxter became a household name playing Elyse Keaton, a busy mom and political activist, on the hit sitcom Family Ties. Mirroring her TV character, Meredith is an activist for charity fundraisers and women’s issues, such as cancer, domestic violence, and gay and lesbian rights. In addition, she is a mother of five and an accomplished author. In her book Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame and Floundering, Meredith details her struggles with breast cancer, domestic abuse, sexuality and alcoholism.
“Alcohol was not the problem; alcohol was the symptom,” Meredith says. “I couldn’t deal with my life. I was making ridiculous choices, and alcohol made those choices feel a little bit better. But it was the choices, the thinking – that’s really the disease. That’s how it manifests itself.”
Alley Mills’ Secrets from the Set
Actress Alley Mills went from a sweet and caring TV mom on The Wonder Years to a bipolar spinster on the popular daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful. Although Alley is not a mom in real life, she got a crash course in motherhood on the set.
• Learn how to make an at-home vitamin C mask.
JoMarie Payton’s Healthy Life Lessons
As the earnest, yet sassy, Harriette Winslow on the hit sitcom Family Matters, actress JoMarie Payton instantly became one of America’s favorite TV moms. True to her character, family matters to JoMarie, who is a real-life mother, grandmother and ambassador for Miramar Cultural Center Artspark – an organization that celebrates creativity and diversity within the city of Miramar, Florida, and encourages youths to take part in their community.
Patricia Richardson on PSP Awareness
As the Home Improvement mom America could relate to, actress Patricia Richardson went from the TV limelight to being a national spokesperson for Cure PSP — an organization combating a rare and often misdiagnosed brain disease that claimed the life of her father and fuels her fight to find a cure.
“He probably had the disease [for] five or six years before we knew he did,” Patricia says. “We’re only really catching 1 in probably 3 people with it.”
PSP, or progressive supranuclear palsy, is a degenerative neurological disorder that causes abnormal movement, similar to that of Parkinson’s disease. People suffering from PSP develop sluggish body movement and stiffness, as well as balance problems and difficulty with eye and neck motility. PSP is caused by an inability to process natural waste from the cells in the brain. Most people can process this waste but for those with PSP, the waste remains in the brain and creates a protein that attacks the brain cells. Oftentimes, people are misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s and prescribed medication. If the medication proves ineffective, it signals that PSP may be the cause, as opposed to other brain diseases.
Approximately 5 people in every 100,000 will develop PSP, but only a third are diagnosed. Unfortunately, an official diagnosis usually occurs after death, when doctors can examine the brain during an autopsy to verify if the proteins that cause PSP are present. The best living diagnosis is if patients are not reacting well to their Parkinson’s medication. PSP usually develops in people in their 50s and 60s – not in the later years. The disease tends to last between five and 10 years, before patients die from related health complications, such as aspirational pneumonia and brain ulcers. Researchers speculate that there may be a genetic component to PSP, but the specific gene has yet to be identified.