Perhaps no one career has paralleled the era of modern television more than that of renowned actress Mariette Hartley–from the Twilight Zone, to Star Trek, to The Incredible Hulk, to The Rockford Files, and The Love Boat–Mariette's performances were part of the lexicon of small screen entertainment from the 60's through the 90's.
Beautiful and talented, Hartley also hid a dark secret. Her family was afflicted with severe bipolar disorder and suicide. Her father was the infamous psychologist, John B. Watson. Watson's strange theories of behaviorism suggested that children from infancy to young adulthood were hampered by too much human affection and should never be touched. Those bizarre and damaging theories had a terrible affect on Hartley. Then–to make matters worse– her eccentric and often abusive father took his own life when she was only a teenager. Her mother then spiraled into state of destructive alcoholism. It would be twenty-five years before the family revealed the tragedy of her father's suicide.
The poltergeist of that broken childhood deeply possessed Hartley's psyche and spirit. It was a haunting that endured even through the incredible fame of her storied television career. It was also a lonely haunting, divorced twice, she barely spoke of her inner demons and it was not until the early 90's that she sought help and was diagnosed with severe bipolar disorder and ADHD. Thankfully, she was able to bear therapy, she began a effective drug regiment, and slowly her spirit recovered.
As a cathartic climax to her story, she penned an autobiography titled, "Breaking the Silence." Hartley discusses her long and painful experience in this compelling and often funny interview with Stacey Gualandi of The Woman's Eye. It's well worth a listen.
Thank you Mariette Hartley for having the courage to tell your story.
Mental Health Justice. No Stigma. No judgment. Everyone is welcome.