Sachi Parker, daughter of Shirley MacLaine, has an axe to grind, and she needed a whole book to do it. The 56-year-old mother of two has penned a memoir about life as the daughter of the famous actress. An excerpt published in this week’s People Magazine hints at the book’s revelation: Life with her famous mother was not an easy ride.
The autobiography, Lucky Me: My Life With – and Without – My Mom, Shirley MacLaine, is excitedly billed as a “shocking new tell-all.” (Then again, when are child-of-celeb memoirs not?) While some of it may be a little surprising, the rest, well, isn’t. Re: the shocking parts, her mother encouraged Parker to lose her virginity, with intrusive follow-up questions from sex therapists seconds after the act. More bizarrely, MacLaine told Sachi that her father was cloned and that her real father was “orbiting the earth in outer-space on a government assignment.” Other issues aren’t exactly headliners: Shirley was never around; she didn’t want to pay her daughter’s college fees.
Parker says she “had to write the book” and in doing so has “freed herself.” Mother MacLaine, despite serious goading, has said little in response but gave the press a punchy and widely distributed sound bite. Dismissing the new book as “virtually all fiction,” she added, “I’m sorry to see such a dishonest, opportunistic effort from my daughter, for whom I’ve only ever wanted the best.”
THE PR VERDICT: “A” (PR Perfect) for Shirley MacLaine’s well-worded, brief, and withering response.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: Silence can be construed as an admission of guilt. Given the book’s publicity and exposure, something had to be said. For MacLaine, this was a tough call. Say too little and the story stands; say too much, and private family matters gain traction. MacLaine’s response may not stop people from reading the book, but it pierced a hole in its credibility with bull’s-eye pithiness, shortening the life span of the memoir’s time in the media sun – the best PR strategy. Say little and move on; something the daughter might also be well advised to do.