Active Celebrity Senior
What's Boomer Sally Struthers Doing Now?
Just About Everything
That Crosses Her Path!
By Ken Hall
Trying to describe the things Sally Struthers 58, 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
"The warehouse 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
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 .
"I think 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
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
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
Another collection 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
Sally also 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
Struthers began 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."
Once, when 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.
The angel 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!'"
Actually, she 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 Scotty, Fala.
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.
The decorative 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."
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
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
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.
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).
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 psychologist.
Sally Struthers may write to the star c/o Sharp & Associates, 8721 Sunset
Blvd., Ste. 208, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
The "All in the Family" cast,
clockwise from left:
Carroll O'Connor, Sally Struthers, Rob Reiner and Jean Stapleton.ses Her Path!
Most of the pieces in Sally's dog collection are dedicated to Scotties, but
not these two.
A lamp, a cat, a few plates and even an Emmy Award
all compete for space atop a window sill in Sally's home.
Struthers began collecting silver frames as a way to
display photographs of friends and family.