Some of what you may have read about me is accurate (my father did hire a snow machine for Christmas), some false (I didn't live in that enormous house until I was seventeen), and some exaggerated (I wasn't "disinherited"). But all the while the life I was living was much more than that. I lived in fear of my own doll collection. I let a bad boyfriend spend my 90210 salary. I planned a fairy-tale wedding to the wrong man. I begged casting directors to forget that Donna Martin ever existed. I was working hard and shopping like crazy. I was falling in love and getting hurt.
My life has been funnier and sadder and richer and poorer than any of the magazines know. Public opinion dies hard. To this day I still look in the mirror and hate my nose. Still, everyone else has been telling stories about me for decades now. It's about time I told a few of my own.
Here's the part of my book where I'm supposed to say, Sure, my family had lots of money, but I had a normal childhood just like everyone else. Yeah, I could say that, but I'd be lying. My childhood was really weird. Not better or worse than anyone else's childhood, but definitely different.
Part of it was the whole holiday thing. My parents liked to make a spectacle, and the press ate it up. Like I said, it's true that my father got snow for our backyard one Christmas. But that's only half the story, if anyone's counting — he actually did it twice. The first time was when I was five. My father told our family friend Aunt Kay that he wanted me to have a white Christmas. She did some research, made a few calls, and at six a.m. on Christmas Day a truck from Barrington Ice in Brentwood pulled up to our house.
My dad, Aunt Kay, and a security guard dragged garbage bags holding eight tons of ice into the back where there was plastic covering a fifteen-foot-square patch of the yard. They spread the snow out over the plastic, Dad with a pipe hanging from his mouth. To complete the illusion, they added a Styrofoam snowman that my father had ordered up from the props department at his studio. It was eighty degrees out, but they dressed me up in a ski jacket and hat and brought me out into the yard, exclaiming, "Oh, look, it snowed! In all of Los Angeles it snowed right here in your backyard! Aren't you a lucky girl?"
I'm sure that little white patch was as amazing to a five-year-old as seeing a sandbox for the first time, but my parents didn't stop there. Five years later they were thinking bigger, and technology was too. This time, again with Aunt Kay's guidance, my dad hired a snow machine to blow out so much powder that it not only filled the tennis court, it created a sledding hill at one end of the court. I was ten and my brother, Randy, was five. They dressed us in full-on snowsuits (the outfits were for the photos, of course — it was a typical eighty-five degrees out). According to Aunt Kay, the sledding hill lasted three days and everyone came to see the snow in Beverly Hills: Robert Wagner, Mel Brooks … not that I noticed or cared. Randy and I spent Christmas running up the hill and zooming down in red plastic saucer sleds. Even our dogs got to slide down the hill. It was a pretty spectacular day for an L.A. girl.