When her hair started falling out, Morgan Fairchild knew she had to do something.
Yes, that Morgan Fairchild. She of the big, blond hair, the nighttime soap operas and TV movies.
"You know, it's funny," Fairchild said by phone from her Hollywood home. "You'll put up with a lot: headaches, stomach pain, whatever. But when stress starts affecting your looks, you're going to do something."
Fairchild's "something" included a string of medical tests, resulting in repeated diagnoses of "nothing wrong."
It was the early '70s. She had just moved to New York, where after only six weeks she landed a key role in the CBS soap "Search For Tomorrow."
"Everyone thought I had such a wonderful life. What could be wrong?" she recalls. "But my hair was falling out. Clearly, something was wrong."
Finally, she went to a holistic doctor, who told her the problem was stress-related.
"He said I had put so much stress on myself that my adrenal system was exhausted. He put me on adrenal drugs, and it was the only thing that helped."
Still, Fairchild says, "I knew that temporary help wasn't going to be the end of it. You can't just walk away from life, so you can't eliminate stress, but you can take control of certain areas."
Why is Morgan Fairchild telling me this? Because she has a new video out, and she wants me to tell you to buy it.
Now, I hate celebrity videos as much as the next cynic, but I have to be fair. "Stress Management with Morgan Fairchild and Dr. Anthony Reading" is pretty good. It's informative and instructional, even though it probably doesn't include any advice you couldn't get elsewhere for free. (Free being a relative term, since a visit to a physical therapist isn't usually free. Even a self-help book costs money.)
I followed along with most of the techniques on the 60-minute tape. And, while at times Reading's monotone (intended, I'm sure, to be soothing) nearly bored me to tears, I did find the experience relaxing.
Not that I'm stressed out, you understand. Just because I'm past my deadline and an editor is standing over me breathing fire is no reason to feel stress, is it? And my mother-in-law is coming for a visit and my landlord won't fix the garage door and I'm wondering what to do about day care when my stepchildren come for the summer and lately I've been checking the hairbrush for premature fall-out.
But hey, I saw the video. I can take control of this situation. I can handle it, OK already???
The video is divided into three segments: low-impact aerobics, Tai Chi breathing techniques, and massage therapy.
I got pretty excited about the massage part anytime someone else is doing the work, I'm happy but unfortunately it gets slighted. Just a couple of minutes, really, compared to long segments on aerobics (pretty basic stuff for anyone who's ever taken a class) and progressive relaxation tips (quick translation: tense and release various muscle groups to force them to relax).
But the only thing that really bugged me about the video was the information kit that came with it, which included this tidbit of information: "Three attractive trainers demonstrate the routine while Morgan talks the viewer through it."
So what does that mean? Ugly people can't teach you to deal with stress? Ugly people don't have stress? Ugly people have a lot of stress but nobody cares?
I don't know. But think about it. Mick Jagger's no beauty. And he does have a lot of hair.
"Stress Management with Morgan Fairchild and Dr. Anthony Reading" costs $15.96.