Kathleen Turner Reveals Her Painful Secret
April 12, 2005

Kathleen Turner is back on Broadway! She's receiving rave reviews for her role as the husband-bashing, hard-drinking Martha in the revival of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf."

The role was made famous by the legendary Elizabeth Taylor in the 1966 movie version, but is it true Kathleen said she was born to play Martha? "No, I didn't say that," Kathleen corrected. "I said, 'When I'm 50, I'm playing that role.'"

To get ready for the rigorous part, Kathleen, who has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis since her late 30's, told us she had her right knee replaced. "I knew this was going to be very demanding," Kathleen revealed. "And unless I got myself a healthy knee, it wasn't going to happen. So I did!"

When the disease first hit, Kathleen -- whose femme fatale characters in movies like "Body Heat" and "Romancing the Stone" made her a star -- was hardly able to turn her head or even walk. She was treated with steroids, which made her look puffy and led to wild speculation, including rumors that she was an alcoholic and drinking too much.

"It hurt," Kathleen admitted. "But the truth is when RA is really active, there was very little you cared about."

For a long time, the actress kept silent about her health problems for fear Hollywood wouldn't hire her. "In this industry, many, many people will hire people they know to be a drunk," Kathleen noted. "But if someone's sick, it scares people, especially a disease that they didn't understand."

But new drugs have brought Kathleen's RA under control and now on Broadway she's experiencing one of the great triumphs of her career. "I'm playing the part I wanted to play for thirty years," she enthused. "I couldn't be happier."

And Kathleen Turner is now Broadway's hottest ticket!


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