The Celebrity Collector
Catherine Hicks is
has a nice collection of Madonna
By Ken Hall
Catherine Hicks' professional life, or to visit her at home, one
might conclude she is an extremely religious person, or at least
spiritually elevated. After all, she is a star on the long-running
TV show Seventh Heaven, a squeaky-clean family program on which she
plays a minister's wife and mother to seven kids. And her Los
Angeles home is filled with her collection of
But Hicks, while
admitting that she's a practicing Catholic, denies being either very
religious or overly spiritual. "I just try to live a life that is
somewhat exemplary and incorporates prayer," she said. "The items I
collect -the Madonnas, the statues, the religious icons -- are to me
reminders of those in heaven who watch over us. The Madonna, as a
symbolic figure, is very reassuring to me."
wasn't started intentionally. It just sort of happened. "I'd buy a
statue here, I'd be given a picture there, and before long I had
this group of items that all carried a religious theme," she said.
"I don't have much, as collections go, and I'm certainly not into
the value of what I have. It's not like Beanie Babies, where I'm
saving them up for some big payday that will never
The items in
Hicks' collection share a common theme but take on many forms. She
has a photo of Mother Theresa, being tended to by a group of nuns,
hanging on a wall. On another wall is mounted a plain white bust of
the Pieta, Michelangelo's masterpiece housed at St. Peter's Basilica
in Rome. The full sculpture depicts the dead body of Jesus in Mary's
arms after his crucifiction.
"That was a gift
from my husband," Hicks remarked of the Pieta bust, and it's worth
noting here that her husband, Kevin Yagher, is a Protestant and a
Baptist. "I'm always worried that he's going to yell at me for
Catholicizing the house," Hicks said with a laugh, "but he's
actually been very sweet about it." The two have been married for 14
years and have a daughter, Catie, who's 12.
Hicks' marriage to
Yagher, in fact, may have been one of divine intervention. She was
in Yugoslavia in 1987, filming a movie, and found herself praying
for a husband. "I just felt the time had come for me to settle down
and start raising a family," she said. "So I prayed for a husband --
preferably someone who was part Yugoslavian. While there, I fell in
love with the country and its people."
Sure enough, not
long after returning to the States, Hicks began another project,
acting in the film Child's Play, a cult thriller released in 1988.
She was introduced to Kevin, a special effects and make-up artist
eleven years her junior, and the two fell in love. "I didn't know it
at the time, but I found out later, that he's one-third
Yugoslavian," she said. "So it's true, prayers do get
Back to the
collection. Contained in an ornate frame is a photograph of Therese
of Lisieux, also known as the Little Flower of Jesus. "She was a
young mystic who died at age 24 from tuberculosis," Hicks pointed
out, "but in her life she defined her path to God as 'The Little
Way,' which was basically just loving and trusting in God." Therese
lived in France and was canonized in 1925.
A print of a
Renaissance painting that looks like it could have been done by
Raphael or one of his devotees also hangs from a wall, depicting
Madonna and Child with angels in attendance. A round, wreath-like
ornament shows the Holy Family -- Mary, Joseph and Jesus -- against
a solid backdrop. Another picture shows Our Lady of Medjugorje,
dressed in white and looking beatific.
Hicks said most
religious objects, including her own, are there as reminders to
pray, whether it's on the rosary, using Eastern beads or in whatever
manner of spiritual expression. "It's healthy to remember where the
trees come from," she said. "I surround myself with Madonnas to stay
grounded and focused. The Virgin Mary only appears before poor
children. Knowing that is very inspiring."
was born in New York City on August 6, 1951. Her mother almost died
in childbirth, but it was her father, Walter, who had serious health
issues when Catherine was just a child. "The doctors told him he
needed to be in a dry climate, and he was advised to choose between
Arizona and Spain," she said. So, it was off to Scottsdale, where
the family laid roots.
Walter, who died
in 1986, enjoyed a long career as an electronics salesman.
Catherine's mother, Jackie, will be 90 soon. Hicks remembers riding
her bike and skateboard as a child. The family property was lush
with grapefruit and orange trees. Jackie made a dessert called
Orange Charlottes that were a big hit. Catherine was a cheerleader
at Gerard High School in Phoenix.
When time came for
college, Hicks enrolled at St. Mary's College (which has since
merged with Notre Dame University) in Indiana. She double majored in
English literature and theology, but took dramatic arts courses as
electives and fell in love with acting. After graduating, in 1969,
she won an acting fellowship to Cornell University, where she
received a Master of Fine Arts degree.
Hicks moved to New York City. Within a week, she landed her first
role, as Faith Coleridge on the daytime drama, Ryan's Hope
(1975-78). She also got a part in a Broadway play, Tribute, in which
she acted opposite Jack Lemmon. In 1980, she was cast as Marilyn
Monroe in the HBO bio-pic, Marilyn: The Untold Story." Her
performance earned her an Emmy nomination.
Life was good for
the rising star. But, as film critic Leonard Maltin wrote in 1994,
"An attractive soap opera veteran, Hicks seemed a sure bet for
stardom after being Emmy-nominated.....The following year, 1981, she
starred in her first feature, Death Valley, which began a
maddeningly unrewarding screen career....Leading roles and flashy
supporting parts always went to other actresses."
Hicks agrees. "I
don't know why, but all I ever seemed to get offered were parts in
horror and science-fiction movies," she said. True, her resume
includes roles in films like Horror Hall of Fame (1990) and Star
Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), but she also gave solid
performances in Garbo Talks (1984) The Razor's Edge (1984), Peggy
Sue Got Married (1986) and Turbulence (1997).
Maltin penned those words in 1994, two years before the start of the
biggest hit ever on the WB, and a hit show by any measure, Seventh
Heaven. Now filming for a ninth season, and with re-runs already
roaring in syndication on the ABC Family channel, Heaven has secured
Hicks' place as a bona fide star in the entertainment industry. For
that, she's thankful.
gets teased by some critics for being a little too saccharin at
times, but it has earned praise nonetheless. TV Guide called it "a
warm, coming-of-age drama that could wind up being the best family
show on television." The New York Times said Hicks' character "not
only relishes her role of housewife, but she is also incredibly
skilled at writing, plumbing and carpentry."
As Annie Camden,
Hicks portrays a witty and compassionate mother who realizes the
need for creative involvement in the lives of her children. "And I
am so not like her in real life," she laughs. "My daughter can get
anything she wants out of me. My husband is always getting after me
about it. Annie, meanwhile, is the stern but fair mother who doesn't
budge easily. I budge way too easily!"
As for other
projects, Hicks said there aren't any planned, except to keep riding
the Seventh Heaven wave all the way to shore. "No, I didn't become a
mother until I turned 40," she said. "I want to be here for my
daughter. That's a big enough job in itself." Fans of Catherine
Hicks may visit the star online at www.catherinehicksonline.com.
Catherine Hicks was born
in New York City and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona. She's married
with one child.
This print of a
Renaissance painting looks like it could have been done by
This photograph from the
late 1800s is of Therese of Lisieux.
Our Lady of Medjugorje,
dressed in white and looking beatific.
This bust of the Pieta,
Michelangelo's masterpiece, was a gift from Hicks' husband.