Helen Reddy Writes About Jeff Wald In Her Forthcoming Memoir

She says she married him out of desperation over her right to work and live in the United States.

Jeff started out as charming. He said he'd take care of her. She was a divorced mother.

At a meager salary, Jeff worked as a secretary for William Morris, but he was funny, bright and handsome.

Jeff tracked her down. He beat her at chess. He was great with her three-year-old daughter Traci.

He lied about his age (he was only 22 but said he was older).

He got her to move in with him.

He wasn't threatened by her intelligence and drive.

Traci began calling Jeff "daddy."

[pg. 170] In the space of thirteen months, I had given birth, had three number-one bit records and my own television series, won a Grammy, lost both parents, my aunt, and my closest friend, and faced death myself. On the stress scale, I was off the chart, but it was my husband/manager who was unable to handle the pressure. As bullies tend to do, he took advantage of my vulnerable state and, four weeks after Aunty Nell's death, he became verbally abusive. I did not have the emotional resources to cope.

[pg. 228] The recording in Los Angeles of my last album for MCA, called Imagination, was to coincide with the end of my second marriage and the dissolution of our business partnership. It was not to be an amicable divorce, and I had to constantly remind myself that I was not dealing with a human being in the normal sense; I was dealing with a human being under the influence of a powerful chemical.

There have been many moments of blinding truth in my life. One was during the dying days of my second marriage. Despite all the denials, it was obvious to me that my husband still had a cocaine problem. He had been treated before for his [229] addiction but his behavior indicated that he was still using- as did his pillow which, by morning, had blood spots, bone fragments and gristle from his nose embedded in it. After he had left the house one morning, I went through the clothes in his wardrobe, something I would never have normally done. Sure enough, I found a vial of cocaine in one of his coat pockets. As I angrily poured the contents into the toilet bowl, I had flashbacks of myself-emptying Mum's hidden brandy bottles down the kitchen sink as a young girl; pouring out my first husband's cheap whiskey the same way; dumping Number Two's diet pills down the toilet; and here I was now with the cocaine doing it again. Obviously what I was doing wasn't working and, as the only common denominator in every scenario was me and my reaction, it would seem that I had a problem. Different city, different person, different substance, but old Helen was still coping in the same way and it didn't work. I needed professional help. I called the wife of a colleague I knew to be in a twelve-step program and went to my first Al-Anon meeting the same night.

I had often been threatened that if I ever left my husband/manager, he would "bad-mouth me out of the business."

[233] He planned to accuse me of child abuse, even though I had never in my life raised a hand to my son. It was beyond devastating. He had struck at me where I lived-as a mother.

Several of my performing contracts were canceled, and one promoter told me he couldn't book me in case a certain someone "came after him with a shotgun." It seemed to me that this person was trying to destroy my livelihood. Why was he doing this, when he was taking away money that his children stood to benefit from? I had hoped that with me no longer acting the role of the enabler financially, it would put brakes on his gambling and drug taking. What I had underestimated was the "old boy" network and the extent to which others were willing to fill the void in his finances.

[241] In between his father's drug-fueled rants about what a terrible person his mother was, Jordan was being subjected to viewings of Kramer vs. Kramer and The Champ, two tear-jerking, emotionally manipulative father-son films.

[244] My wedding to Number Three was a happy day in a sea of misery, despite Number Two's efforts to disrupt the occasion. Although he was in Europe at the time, Number Two arranged for me to be served with a subpoena as I was walking down the aisle.

The cover of People magazine about Helen's divorce from Jeff read "Hollywood's Dirtiest Custody Case."

Highlights from Helen Reddy’s Memoir [“Helen Reddy: The Woman I Am”]

She's the ex-wife of Hollywood manager/producer Jeff Wald.

She had a psychic revelation foreshadowing Robert Kennedy’s demise [pg. 127-29]: “This particular day, I had been thinking about the upcoming election before drifting into an alpha state. I saw the date June 6 edged in black and understood that it was for Bobby Kennedy. It signified that he would be out of politics forever on that date. My conscious mind was unable or unwilling to face the significance of the black border and, because I knew that the California primary was around that date, I interpreted the vision to mean that Bobby would lose the election in California, retire from the race, and never again run for political office. This vision was followed by three days of paralyzing depression. I had no desire to dress, brush my hair, or move out of a chair. After the black cloud passed, I wondered what on earth had caused it….The primary had been on June 4, he had been shot on June 5, and his heart stopped beating on June 6. My vision had been accurate, and now I understood why I had been so deeply depressed for three days. If hatha yoga and meditating made me this sensitive, I wanted no part of either one, and I stopped the practice of both for a while.”

Helen Reddy on abortion [pg. 151]: “As a moral issue, abortion will be debated as long as humankind is able to debate. I respect all points of view as being valid to the holder. What concerns me is abortion as a legal and political issue. I am against all reproductive laws for the same reason I am against the draft. I believe that legal ownership of one’s body is the most basic civil and human right. Without it, we are all slaves to whatever government is in power at any given time.”

On handling fame [pg. 183-84]: “The best one I’ve ever seen at handling fans in a public place was Paul Newman. Once I was on the same flight as him and he was traveling alone. As he moved through the airport, people were coming up to him and asking for his autograph. The number-one rule for a celebrity is keep moving. If you stop to sign anything, a crowd will gather. Paul would say to each one, as he kept walking, that he didn’t sign autographs but, ‘I’ll shake your hand, and the next time I see you, I’ll have a beer with you.’ Then whoosh, he was gone, leaving behind a more satisfied fan with a story to tell back home.”

Is a strong believer in reincarnation and specifically believes that “Elvis was formerly King Tutankhamen” and that “Richard Nixon was formerly Andrew Johnson, who was formerly Thomas Paine.” [pg.216]

On Richard Nixon [pg. 217]: “History will be much kinder to Richard Nixon than his contemporaries have been. Truths will come to light that will reveal him to be a more honorable man than some who have come to that office after him.”

On AIDS [pg. 225]: “In my experience, a question is expressed before going into meditation is always answered, so I asked for clarification of what I’d read. This is what came to me: AIDS was one of the biblical plagues and, until recently, had lain dormant for centuries. In ancient times, the temple was the center not only of religious life, but also of healing and lawmaking. The masses were uneducated and relied totally on the priesthood for leadership and guidance. What has come down to us today as sexual taboos, deeply embedded in traditional religious practice, are the remains of old public health laws designed to contain the spread of the disease. Hence, the emphasis on virginity before marriage, sexual relations only within a monogamous union, circumcision for males, and ritual cleansing for postmenstrual women.”

Given a psychic revelation relating to feminism [pg. 326]: “There were assignments still ahead of me, and my work on earth was far from over. I was given a revelation of the role of feminism at this point in the history of our planet. At this time I can say little, except that I believe that it will be Third World women who will save the earth from destruction.”

Chaim Amalek writes: "Helen Reddy makes lots more sense than I would have guessed. Too bad she helped disseminate feminist poison into the ears of a generation of women. Especially about ancient temples, and public health laws. She's right on the money. The gays won't like this, though. As she seems to be saying that the biblical condemnation of man-man sex was rooted in a deep understanding of public health issues."

Gary James' Interview With Helen Reddy

Does Helen Reddy really need an introduction? Probably not, but we're going to give her one anyway. She came to this country from Australia, landed a record deal with Capitol Records, and had a hit with the first song she recorded "I Don't Know How To Love Him". The song that put Helen Reddy over the top, the song that made her a household name was "I Am Woman". That song went to Number One, and earned Helen a Grammy Award. Other hits followed, including "Angie Baby", "Delta Dawn", "Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)" and "You And Me Against the World". In short, Helen Reddy ruled. You might well ask what Helen Reddy is doing these days. Today, she's an environmental activist who served three years as Commissioner of Parks and Recreation for the State of California. She recently formed her own record company, Helen Reddy Inc. and released a new CD titled "Feel So Young". The CD sleeve uses ninety per cent less plastic, and seventy per cent less paper than traditional packaging. We spoke with Helen Reddy about her career, her life today, the environment, and one of her earliest gigs, in Syracuse, New York.

Q - Would you have been as successful as you were/are if Jeff Wald had not entered your life?

A - When I met him, he was 22 years old. He was working as a secretary at the William Morris office. He was a secretary for one of the agents there. He wasn't an agent himself. He was living with his mother in the Bronx. To infer that he made me, when I already had so much success, is, I think, misleading. I think we were able to help each other for awhile there. I would say that the association professionally was mutually beneficial for a time. But, I think ultimately it became destructive.


From her publicist:

Helen Reddy's riveting story of her rise to international fame-and her triumph over illness, abusive husbands, and the pitfalls of the music industry

"You can still see the woman who woke up one day with the line 'I am strong, I am invincible' running around her head."-Catherine Keenan, The Sydney Morning Herald

"From the age of four when she first appeared on stage, it was clear that Reddy's star would rise. She set her heart and mind on becoming famous in America (and therefore internationally) and nothing short of dogged determinism, hard work, and her talent got her there." -Lucy Clark, books editor, Sunday Mall

"Reddy's autobiography, The Woman I Am, offers frank insight into a woman who first took the stage at the age of four and who evolved into an artist and individual sustained by her strong spiritual faith." -Miranda Korzy, Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin

Here is the inspiring life story of the woman whose song "I Am Woman" became an international hit and the anthem of 1 970s feminism.

In The Woman / Am (a Tarcher/Penguin hardcover, May 4, 2006, 1-58542-489-7; $24.95) Helen Reddy gives readers an intimate account of her musical career, her often tumultuous personal life, and her steady spiritual growth, from her first childhood performances in Melbourne, through the height of international stardom, to a contented life as a hypnotherapist in Sydney, Australia.

Born into a show business family in Melbourne-both her parents, Max Reddy and Stella Lamond, were vaudevillians-Helen Reddy seemed destined for fame. Her mother taught her to sing and revealed to her an invaluable truth, that what set the human voice apart from every other musical instrument was its ability to "tell a story."

More than twenty years later, Helen Reddy would use her voice to tell a story that millions of women were hungry to hear, a story about their own strength, their own courage, their own self-worth. But reaching that pinnacle was not easy, and realizing her own self-worth would not come without a cost.

After winning a talent contest in 1966, Reddy set off with her three-year-old daughter and $230 to make it big in New York City. She had seen the destructive effects of alcohol on her parents, and her first husband's abusive behavior while under the influence led to their divorce. Now she was a single mother, a female vocalist from Australia, trying to make it in New York at a time when male rock groups were all the music industry seemed to want.

More success and more grief would come to Reddy, hand in hand. Just as she reached the height of her career in the early 70s-when "I Am Woman" climbed to number one in the pop charts and she became the first Australian to win the Grammy for Best Female Vocalist-both her parents died and she was diagnosed with a rare and incurable illness.

"In the space of thirteen months," Reddy writes, "I had given birth, had three number-one hit records and my own television series, lost both parents, my aunt, and my closest friend, and faced death myself."

Reddy had contracted Addison's disease (a disease from which John F. Kennedy also suffered), a rare disorder linked to malfunctioning adrenal glands, which can be fatal if left untreated but can be managed with cortisone injections. But like so much else in her life, learning of her disease only deepened Reddy's resolve and energized her to fulfill the assertion of her most famous lyric: "I am strong, I am invincible." Only an invincible woman could come through such suffering with such grace.

Throughout The Woman I Am, Reddy explores with unflinching honesty the emotional highs and lows that shaped her life as an artist and deepened her spiritual faith. We learn of her earliest musical influences-Lena Home, Peggy Lee, Marlene Dietrich, Lana Cantrell-her near death from Kidney failure in 1959, and an out-of-body experience when she was a young girl that would initiate a spiritual exploration that would lead her to study reincarnation, past-life regression, and hypnotherapy.

We hear of her bitter divorce from her second husband and manager, a man who became addicted to cocaine and sought to undermine Reddy's career and turn her son against her. But we also see Reddy's great love of singing, her triumphant performances before Kings, Queens, and Presidents, and her quiet and but steady spiritual growth.

The Woman I Am gives us rich insight into the inner life and outer circumstance of the singer who boldly claimed "I am woman, hear me roar."