|The Celebrity Collector
Olivia Hussey Has
Collected About 70 Spiritual Statues
Olivia Hussey was just 15
when she won a Golden Globe award for her portrayal of "Juliet" in
the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet. She is a spiritual lady, and has
about 70 spiritual statues in her home.
By Ken Hall
At age 15, most young women
are nurturing dreams of romance. But Olivia Hussey was playing the
part, in Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 film version of the Shakespearean
classic, Romeo and Juliet.. The movie has become a classic of sorts,
too, and it earned young Olivia a Golden Globe award and a pair of
Donatellos (Italy's Oscar equivalent). Remarkably, there was no
Today, Hussey retains the
striking beauty that has sustained her through 35+ years of acting.
She attributes her looks to an exotic blend of English and
Argentinean roots. Her father is Andreas Osuna (aka Isvaldo Ribo),
the renowned Argentine opera and tango singer. Her English mother
encouraged her early inclinations for the performing arts, enrolling
Olivia in drama class at age 7.
With parents from such
disparate cultures, young Olivia had a fairly secular upbringing.
But her adulthood has been tied strongly to spirituality, as is
evidenced by her extensive collection of statues depicting religious
figures like Buddha, Ganesh, Krishna, Quan Ying and Lakshmi. She's
got about 70, and they're scattered throughout her home in northern
California, where she just moved.
"I'm not necessarily a
religious person," Hussey said, "although I belonged to the Church
of England when I was young and have always enjoyed the serenity and
calm that comes with attending church service. But I am very
spiritual. The statues are little reminders that God is everywhere
in a person's life, at least my life. They're certainly everywhere
in the house -- just about every room!"
Hussey traced her spiritual
leanings to a single evening in England, at age 22. "I was at loose
ends at the time," she remembered. "My marriage (to the late Dean
Paul "Dino" Martin, son of singer Dean Martin) had ended, and I was
having trouble sleeping. Someone invited me to a house gathering to
hear Swami Baba Muktananda speak. I didn't want to go. It sounded so
Eastern and esoteric."
Olivia resisted, but the
friend insisted, so she went. "I just kind of lurked in the
background all evening, like a wallflower. At the end of the
meeting, 'Baba' worked his way through the crowd, and he walked
right up to me and said, in Hindi, 'You're not meditating, my
child!' A ball of fire went up my spine, my knees buckled and I felt
an explosion in my heart. I started laughing and crying,
But then everything went
calm, and Hussey found herself in a state of absolute bliss. "I
began meditating right then and there," she said, "and when I came
out of it I said to a friend, 'That was the quietest ten minutes of
my life.' And she said, 'Ten minutes? You've been meditating for two
hours!' I was astounded. But I knew from that day on that I'd be
meditating the rest of my life. And I have."
She became a devotee of
Swami Baba Muktananda and the Siddha Yoga Foundation. "Baba (which
means 'father') died in 1982," Hussey said, "and I was fortunate to
have gotten to know him, both as a spiritual master and friend.
Thanks to him, I live spiritually minded every day." Meditation, she
says, has allowed her to throw away prescription medicines for
agoraphobia and depression.
Hussey's statues are small
for the most part and carry little value as collectible items. But
they're priceless to her because of the memories and spiritual value
they represent. "Some I've picked up in gift shops, others at what I
guess you'd call self-actualization centers," she said. "If it's a
figure that reminds me of God, I'll buy it. And elephants," she
added; "I've got lots of elephants, too!"
As she points to a statues,
she tells a bit about what it means. "Ganesh is the elephant God
from India," she said. "He has the head of an elephant and the body
of a man. He's the remover of obstacles. Quan Ying is the goddess of
fertility. And Lakshmi is the Indian goddess of wealth. You see her
a lot in Indian shops and restaurants. And, of course, I've got lots
of Buddha statues."
Hussey also has a cross
that she keeps on a prayer table; a glass heart given to her by
Howard Wills, a friend and spiritual mentor; and a fresco painting
of the Black Madonna of Poland. "The Black Madonna is famous because
it was the only thing left when Nazis burned a church during World
War II," Hussey said. "A Polish priest painted a beautiful version
of it and gave it to me."
Probably the only item of
real dollar value was one she acquired long before spirituality
would become an important part of her life: it's the cross she wore
around her neck in Romeo and Juliet. "I actually thought about
posting it on eBay, just to see how much I could get for it," she
said with a laugh. "I know movie memorabilia can be very valuable. I
would never think of selling it, though."
Before her breakout role as
Juliet, Hussey had starred on the London stage opposite Vanessa
Redgrave in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, playing "Jenny." Her
performance must have impressed Franco Zeffirelli, who saw her at
the same time he was casting about for his Juliet. He invited Olivia
to audition. She competed against 500 other aspirants, but
eventually won the role.
Over the years, Hussey has
appeared in numerous film roles, even reuniting with Zeffirelli to
do Jesus of Nazareth. Other credits include Death on the Nile (with
Bette Davis and Peter Ustinov); The Last Days of Pompeii (with Sir
Lawrence Olivier); and Stephen King's It. She also starred in the
Hallmark Hall of Fame TV production of Ivanhoe (with James Mason)
and Showtime's Psycho IV.
In 1985, Olivia signed on
to star with Burt lancaster and Chariots of Fire star Ben Cross in a
screen adaptation of The Jeweler's Shop, which was written by Karol
Wojtyla (better known as Pope John Paul II). It was never released
into general distribution, but it was shown at the Vatican. "I was
invited to the screening, as a guest of His Holiness," Hussey said.
"What an experience that was!"
For the past ten years,
Hussey has worked hard to bring the role of Mother Teresa to the big
screen. "Financing for the project is being worked out, and we hope
to begin shooting by the end of this year," she said. And who's to
play the lead? Why, Olivia Hussey, of course! "With some creative
makeup and prosthetics, the transformation is quite amazing," she
said. "I really look just like her."
The film's working title is
Teresa of Calcutta. Narration for a promotional clip was provided by
Richard Harris, who enjoyed renewed fame as Professor Dumbledore in
the Harry Potter movies prior his death this year. Martin Sheen has
let Olivia know he would like to participate in the project. Sheen,
incidentally, took his last name from an early spiritual influence,
Bishop Fulton Sheen.
Hussey has been married
three times, with each marriage producing one child. With Dean Paul
Martin (whose death in a plane crash in the early '70s happened
after the two had split), she had Alex, who's now 30 and an actor.
Her second marriage, to Akira Fuse, a Japanese singer, resulted in a
son, Max, who's 20. And a daughter, India Joy, 9, is a child from
her current marriage.
Hussey's husband (and
India's dad) is David Glen Eisley, a celebrity in his own right. He
played minor league baseball before dedicating his life to music,
songwriting and acting. He was a member of the '80s rock band
Giuffria and toured worldwide with Deep Purple and Foreigner. As a
drummer, guitarist and keyboardist, he did session work with Kiss,
Michael Bolton and other acts.
Eisley has released two
albums for the European and Asian markets, "Stranger From the Past"
and "The Lost Tapes," both on Frontiers Records. He also released an
educational-musical CD for young children titled "Dr. Dave's Rockin'
Math." He and Olivia plan to develop future film projects through
their company, Frozen Flame Enterprises. For more about David, go to
Fans of Olivia Hussey may
visit the star online at http://www.oliviahussey.com/
attributes her good looks to an exotic blend of her Argentinean
father and English mother.
pictured next to Swami Baba Muktananda, her spiritual master and
inspiration for the statues.
was just 15 years old when she won a Golden Globe award for her
portrayal of "Juliet."
fresco painting of the legendary Black Madonna was given to Olivia
as a gift by a Polish priest.
large piece in this group depicts Ganesh, the elephant god of India
and remover of