Shirley MacLaine's Daughter Pans Her Performance as Mom

Sachi Parker said she rarely saw MacLaine, and that the star chose her acting career over her.
8:54 | 02/01/13

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Transcript for Shirley MacLaine's Daughter Pans Her Performance as Mom
So what I it like t grow up as the only child of one of the most famous and respected actresses in the world? shirley MacLain? It's not all terms of endearment, according to her daughter sashi. No more wire hangers! Reporter: "Mommie dearest" is the classic movie about what it was like growing up as the daughter of a hollywood star. Joan crawford as the caricature of the mother no one would want. Yes, mommie dearest. Reporter: Now the spotlight is on another hollywood icon's parenting skills, shirley MacLaine. Her lookalike daughter, sachi parker, writes about her childhood in a new book "lucky me my life with, and without, my mom shirley maclaine. Shirley maclaine is bigger than life. She is a force to be reckoned with. And she's big in everything she does. She's big in eating an ice cream sundae. Reporter: Now starring in the global sensation "downton ABBEY," MacLAINE, AT ONE TIME, Was a triple threat. Sweet charity who sang, danced and acted. And went on to win an oscar -- I deserve this. Thank you. Reporter: -- For her portrayal of a mother who has a love/hate relationship with her daughter in "terms of endearment." Why should I be happy about being a grandmother? Reporter: But maclaine's real life daughter sachi says that, despite the glamour, her childhood wasn't a fantasy but more of a nightmare. Your mother was absent most of your life. Yes, she was. She was very absent. I was very lonely, very lonely. Definitely. And I still struggle with abandonment issues and loneliness. Reporter: She was always happy to see you for about four hours and then suddenly you became an intolerable burden. Ah, mom. Reporter: Four hours? That was the time limit? Pretty much. Yeah. Reporter: As a young child, sachi was sent to japan to live with her father, shirley's husband, businessman steve parker. You didn't go by yourself when you were 2? Yes, I did. Reporter: You were on an airplane by yourself when you were 2 years old? Yes. Reporter: To japan? It was a propellered airplane in those days, where it took a couple of days. Reporter: Well, who took care of you? The stewardesses on the flight. Reporter: Maclaine remained in los angeles making movies. She spoke to barbara walters in 1990 about how her career came first. I was not about to give up my work. No, I saw my mother suppress her own creativity. I wasn't going to let that happen to me. Reporter: Sachi says she looked forward to the little time she did spend with her mother, holidays and a few weeks during the summer. I missed her all year. Reporter: But she lived primarily with her father, she says, who was verbally abusive. You said, "he had a special nickname for me, the idiot. He obviously had little respect for my intellect and he would never let me read. I don't know why." That's pretty harsh. That is harsh to be called an idiot. It's a definite source of pain for me, still. Reporter: Maclaine and parker had an open marriage and saw each other just two or three times a year. When we married each other, we recognized neither of us ed a conventional marriage. We didn't want to be tied down. Reporter: And neither of them were. Sachi says while her father lived a lavish lifestyle she was often left home alone. Yuki banks is a childhood friend. Sachi would call me because she was all alone. And I said, "what do you mean you're all alone? Where's your dad?" "I don't know where he is. I'm home alone." Reporter: The pattern of neglect would continue when as a young teen, parker was at boarding school in europe, and one christmas, she says, neither of her parents showed up when the school closed to take her home. Where were your parents? Where was your mother? I don't know. I laugh now. But I have to say, at the time, it was very scary. I was literally stranded. And I did not know how I was going to make it through the night. Reporter: How old were you? I was 14. Reporter: By yourself. Yes. Reporter: No idea where your parents are? No idea. Reporter: And it's christmas. That's right. Reporter: Seeing her distress, some kind strangers to your mom when you finally spoke to her? Like, mom -- I did not because I was really brainwashed by the japanese culture, but really by my father. I was taught never to inconvenience people. Reporter: Or cause trouble of any kind. ONCE, MacLAINE WAS UPSET, SACHI Says, when she and her friend yuki couldn't find their airplane tickets. And she had already decided that yuki and I had cashed them in for money. She put us in separate rooms and interrogated both of us I remember just the feeling of being starving, being locked in the hotel room and just having tap water. I was really scared. I thought, "my gosh, I am so glad this person is not my mother." Reporter: Sachi says she recognizes her mother in this clip from "postcards from the edge." I came from nothing and made something out of my life. I think you should just get over what happened to you in your adolescence. It is timeo move on. Reporter: Unable to afford college, sachi worked as a maid, a waitress and four years as a flight attendant, still wishing for a connection to her mother. I would look up and the in-flight movie would be "the turning point." She was right there. And I would just yearn for her. But it was a movie. Reporter: Sachi wanted to be in the movies herself. But, she says, her mother did little to help. She did appear in "back to the future." And "star trek the next generation." But her career never really took off. In 1986, she and her mother made a diet pepsi commercial. Mom, I really wanted that job. When one door closes, another one opens. Honey, you learn more from failure than success. That's kind of her. Perhaps she wrote the script. I don't know. Reporter: In the mid-80s, shirley MacLaine took an otherworldly detour from acting and became a bestselling author of new age books, proclaiming her belief in reincarnation and UFOs. It was during that period that SACHI says MacLaine told her that steve parker was not her father but actually a clone of her real father, paul, who was orbiting in space. That story is so crazy. It's crazy. I mean, who believes a story like that? She does. And did. Reporter: I mean, most people would say -- somebody believing that has a screw loose, to be honest. I choose to believe that she was wide-eyed and so full of wonder. Reporter: Sachi says she tried to make her mother see that parker wasn't a clone, but rather a conman. when MacLaine discovered the truth she divorced parke 28 years of marriage. So tell me why you decided to write this book. It's not a very favorable PORTRAIT OF shirley MacLaine. I hope that she will see the positive in it. Reporter: Sachi is a divorced mother with two teenage children who she says rarely see her grandmother and know her mostly through old pictures. Sachi still wishes for that happy hollywood ending with her own mother. I find myself wanting to protect her so badly. Because I so love her. And I feel so much for her. And yet, I -- the pain is very deep. I don't -- I would hope that she would own it and apologize. That would really, really be wonderful. Reporter: Think that'll ever happen? I hope so. We did contact shirley MacLAIN TO SEE WHAT SHE THOUGHT About the book and the answer was no comment. We know she did not hear back from her mom. She sent her a copy of the book with a note, I love you. And so far no I love you back. IT HITS STORES FEBRUARY 7th.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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