The Celebrity Collector
Sally Struthers collects
everything that crosses her path.
Trying to describe
the things Sally Struthers collects brings to mind the first line of
the "Theme From Love Story:" "Where do I begin...?" The two-time
Emmy Award winner who shot to fame playing Gloria Stivic on the
enormously popular and groundbreaking television series, "All In The
Family" (1971-78), has never met a collectible she didn't like. The
question is, what doesn't she collect?"
people love me," Sally said from her home in the Hollywood Hills.
"I've got so much stuff, a lot of it is in storage. I guess I'm a
No kidding. She
collects angels, stuffed Scotty dogs, tiny antique dolls, silver
frames, wedding cake toppers, antique perfume bottles and decorative
pillows. And that's just in the bedroom!
Elsewhere in her
3,500-square-foot home (she downsized a few years ago from the
6,500-square-foot colossus once owned by Rita Hayworth, where even
more stuff was crammed), one finds antique masks, drink glasses, tin
doll houses, teapots, little books (5" tall or shorter) and tiny
shoe replicas. The house also contains numerous pieces picked up at
antique shops around the country.
Maryelena, my dear housekeeper, secretly hates me," Struthers
laughed. "She's the one who has to dust all this stuff." True, but
it was Maryelena's son, Alex -- Sally's godson -- who gave Struthers
an angel figurine six years ago, officially launching that
collection. The problem is, Sally's got such a sweet, giving nature
that people indulge her. Case in point: the rooster wallpaper.
"As soon as that
wallpaper went up in my kitchen, roosters were flying at me from
every direction," Struthers said. She was given rooster pictures,
statues, salt and pepper shakers, a water pitcher, a plate with a
rooster and an antique brass vase with a rooster image. Her response
to the incoming tide? Start a new collection!
Sally even has
collections she doesn't see any more, because they're in crates
buried in a sea of other crates in a warehouse somewhere. Her
collection of black memorabilia, for example, used to be displayed
in a huge, converted linen closet off one of the bathrooms in her
former residence. Sally had the closet retrofitted with glass
shelves, lighting and fabric on the walls.
When Struthers put
the house up for sale, one of the people who came by to have a look
was Dionne Warwick, the singer. "She absolutely loved the place, but
when she got to that closet and saw the black memorabilia, she was
offended and left very quickly. I was so devastated I took it all
down and put it in boxes. I'm sorry she felt that way. I didn't
realize the collection could offend."
that got the heave-ho this one on a whim more than anything
was a group of cat figurines that she kept in a French armoire
in her old house. "I must have had 250 cats in there," Struthers
said. "There were statues and crystal figures and every kind of cat
imaginable, many of them antique pieces. I decided to sell them all
in a yard sale about seven years ago."
divested herself of some pairs of shoes that way, too, back when she
was doing her Imelda Marcos impression. "I simply had too many
shoes," she said, "so I sold most of them in a yard sale. I didn't
want to be out there myself, so I had other people do the haggling.
I kept peeking around the corner of the house, in my pajamas, giving
hand signals to indicate how much to accept."
collecting silver frames at first as a way to display photographs of
friends, family and loved ones. She loves silver, so that became a
theme that tied the group together. She figures she has 50 silver
framed pictures in her bedroom alone, and 10 more downstairs. All
are silver plate, pewter or sterling. Many show Sally and her
daughter, Samantha, at various points in life.
The antique dolls
are an outgrowth of the doll collection she had as a child. Her mom
saved many of the pieces she still has today; some of those were
"Vogue dolls" (little girl dolls wearing cute clothing). "My Aunt
Aggie made their dresses," Sally said. "Mom used to tell me, 'Never
forget the child within you.' She gave me one of my old dolls in a
glass case with that inscribed on the card."
Struthers was booked to appear on Marie Osmond's TV variety talk
show, Marie asked her if she had any dolls. (Marie has a fabulous
doll collection and has even opened a doll museum). "She got all
excited about my miniatures and asked me to bring one to the
studio," Sally recounted. "When I showed it to her, she thanked me
and took it. She thought it was a gift!"
It wasn't, but
Sally was too nice (and embarrassed) to say so.
figurines began with godson Alex's gift from about six years ago.
It's a resin piece, about 7" tall, with the angel holding a bouquet
of flowers, in a handsome gown and with beautiful wings. Now, when
she sees one she likes, she buys it. Her collection, about 12 angels
in all, comprises wood, bisque, crystal and resin.
The collection of
Scotty dogs began about three years ago when Sally got Bob, her dog
of the same breed. "I'm Scottish myself and I'd always wanted a
Scotty," she said, "but until recently all the dogs I'd lived with
were larger breeds, like Labs and Newfoundlands. I named Bob after
my father, who was a general practice doctor. It's fun walking with
him and just saying, 'Come on, Bob!'"
picked up a few stuffed Scotties, pre-Bob, but now the floodgates
have been opened, with Scotty pillows, Scotty figurines scattered
throughout the house, an apron with Scotty dogs all over it, and
about a half-dozen stuffed Scotties. "One's so real looking it's
scary," she said.
Sally added Scotty
dogs have been popular as a collectible since the days of FDR's
The wedding cake
toppers (yes, those plastic brides and grooms) were born from a trip
to her hair stylist's house. "Bonnie Clevering, who's done Julia
Roberts' hair in all of her movies, was styling my hair for a film
and she had me over one day," Struthers said. "She had all these
wedding cake toppers in a cabinet. I thought they were so cute and
different, I started collecting them, too."
She's got brides
and grooms that are standing, sitting, bride on left, bride on
right, one set with a Kewpie doll theme, one groom that looks just
like Jimmy Stewart and more -- 10-1/2 sets in all. Wait -- 10-1/2?
"I've got a bride with no groom," Sally said. "She's holding a bird
in her hand. Either the groom got lost somewhere along the way or
the poor thing got stood up at the alter."
bottles she has about a dozen are mostly from the '20s,
'30s and '40s. They are, appropriately enough, displayed in an old
pharmaceutical hutch marked "Perfumary Dispensing." It was made in
the '20s and has glass doors. The wedding cake toppers are kept in
there, too. "I like the old perfume bottles because they're so fancy
and Art Deco-ish," she said.
pillows, totaling about 25 pieces, are from the '20s and '30s. "That
was a time when people hand-embroidered pillows with sweet,
whimsical designs, and I just love them," Sally said. "They can make
any place you toss them a little more cozy." Ten pillows occupy
space on her bed. One, a gift from her sister Susan, is yellow and
heart-shaped, showing a lady with a bonnet.
The miniature shoe
replicas, which are also kept in the perfumary case, total about ten
in number and are individual pieces, no pairs. "They're mostly resin
replicas, of Louis XIV shoes, fancy bedroom slippers (or 'mules')
and others," Struthers said. "Most of them have come to me over the
years. Like with all of my collections, some of the stuff I've
bought and some of it was given to me."
Let's see, did we
forget anything? Well, there are the antique items Sally has that
aren't part of a collection but are intriguing nonetheless. Like the
hundred-year-old set of piano legs she bought in an antique shop and
took to a furniture maker who used them to craft a beautiful dining
room table. Or the hundred-year-old piano. Or the antique parson's
table made from a leaded glass door.
Then there's the
huge king's chair in the den, the one that "makes everybody look
like Edith Ann from Laugh-In." And the 75-year-old trunk, once used
by a traveling shoe salesman and still inscribed with the words
"Peter's Classic Shoe For Woman" (it's used as a TV stand in the
den). And don't forget the 100-year-old recliner. Or the Baby Jesus
from the diaper truck (long story, don't ask).
Suffice it to say
that Sally was probably hard-wired to be a collector from the day
she was born, on July 28, 1947, in Portland, Ore. After high school,
she moved to California to attend the Pasadena Playhouse College of
Theatre Arts. There, she won a scholarship as the most promising
first-year student. Her TV debut was as a dancer on a Herb Alpert
& the Tijuana Brass special.
She appeared in
commercials and was a regular on shows like "The Summer Smothers
Brothers Show" and "The Tim Conway Comedy Hour." She was also cast
for supporting roles in two major motion pictures: "Five Easy
Pieces" (with Jack Nicholson) and "The Getaway" (with Steve McQueen
and Ali McGraw). Her career was officially launched, but fame would
soon come calling.
It was Struthers'
role as Meathead's wife Gloria on the hit sitcom "All In The Family"
(with Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton and Rob Reiner) that
catapulted her to stardom. The show used humor to explore sensitive
topics like race relations and the war in Vietnam, something TV
viewers had never seen before. The program is still in syndication
(although Sally doesn't get any residuals).
After the series
ended, Struthers appeared in made-for-TV movies and some
feature-length films (although the plum roles she aspired to were
often denied her because she was so closely identified with Gloria).
Today, she takes the stage in New York and around the country in
musicals and plays. She also has a recurring role on TV's "Gilmore
Girls" and the sitcom "Still Standing."
Sally's also an
artist of considerable talent, mostly rustic, folk art that carries
her own personal imprint. For years, she's been a voice for the
disenfranchised, hungry and uneducated children of the world,
filming numerous public service announcements on their behalf. Sally
was married once, but is now divorced. Her daughter, Samantha, is
about to start a career as a clinical
Fans of Sally
Struthers may write to the star c/o Sharp & Associates, 8721
Sunset Blvd., Ste. 208, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Sally Struthers was born
and raised in Portland, Oregon. Her first TV appearance was on a
Herb Alpert special.
The "All in the Family"
clockwise from left: Carroll O'Connor, Sally Struthers, Rob
Reiner and Jean Stapleton.
This miniature doll is
just one in Sally's collection. Some are "Vogue"
Most of the pieces in
Sally's dog collection are dedicated to Scotties, but not these
collecting silver frames as a way to display photographs of friends
A lamp, a cat, a few
plates and even an Emmy Award all compete for space atop a window
sill in Sally's home.
Sally has been painting
since she was a kid. She considered a
career in commercial art
becoming an actress.