Courtney Love's Trip Back From the Bottom

ByABC News via logo

Oct. 31, 2006 — -- Ambition, addiction, and publicly embarrassing antics.

Everything about singer-actress Courtney Love seems larger than life.

The widow of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain doesn't just invite the world in, she gives the public a front-row seat.

Love's recently released memoir, "Dirty Blonde: The Diaries of Courtney Love," provides readers with an intimate look at her life through photos, scribbled notes, and lyrics and diary entries.

She writes candidly about her past, her drug and alcohol problems, Cobain, and their daughter, Frances Bean, who is now 14 years old.

Now sober for 15 months, Love writes that if she could, she'd put "a black page in this book and just write 2001 to 2004 across it," because "I was on drugs and nothing I wrote made any sense."

Love, 42, has lived what she calls a "wild pirate life." She's attended reform schools, lived in foster homes, and performed in strip clubs.

From the time she was a young girl, Love had her eye on fame. Some of her dreams of stardom were dashed, some were realized, but it all came at a price.

Love said she once applied to become a Mouseketeer. Her hopes may have been dashed at her audition, Love said today on "Good Morning America," when she read a poem by troubled poet Sylvia Plath.

Love catapulted onto the world stage in the early 1990s on the arm of the legendary Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Not only was she a rock star's wife, she was also a rock star in her own right, fronting the band Hole. Both also battled drug addiction.

Their unconventional love story was cut short on April 8, 1994, when Cobain was found dead in his Seattle estate. When Love spoke about her husband's suicide with ABC's Barbara Walters in 1995, she was remarkably candid.

When Walters asked, "Could you have stopped him permanently?" Love said, "No. But I could have been diligent."

Cobain's death, Love said, sent her on a downward spiral of drug addiction that brought her to the brink of bankruptcy. Her dependency on drugs turned her from a swan into a skeleton, and she temporarily lost custody of Frances Bean.

Love resurrected her career as a leading lady in the 1996 movie, "The People Versus Larry Flynt," but then her demons returned.

Once again, Love lost custody of Frances Bean. She was sentenced to 180 days of drug treatment and told by a judge that she'd have to hit rock bottom before she would see better days.

Love says another troubled star helped her seek rehab and get clean.

Love was holed up in a fancy hotel room in Beverly Hills, doing drugs, when Mel Gibson and addiction counselor Warren Boyd knocked on the door.

"Mel kept coming to the door with this cheesy grin going, 'Hi!'" Love said. "I just kept looking at him going, 'Blank off!' … I know him and he's a nice guy, but it just didn't matter who it was. It could have been Jesus. I didn't care."

But the men doing drugs with Love recognized Gibson and left with him to get a cheeseburger. That gave Boyd the opportunity to get into the room and coax her into rehab.

Love said at one point she thought she would live her life with no regrets. The fact is, she said, she has left quite a bit of wreckage in her wake -- and her daughter has suffered.

Love says she rarely used drugs when she was around Frances Bean, but acknowledges the teenager is much better off with a sober mother.

Love says that Frances tries to avoid tabloid reports and gossip, but she can't help but feel some of the burn from the media glare.

"It's weird with little girls. … The hardest part for Frances, the most embarrassed she ever got, was when I got fat," Love said.

When Love and Frances went horseback riding on Mother's Day this year, they were swarmed with paparazzi.

Later that day, Frances went online and read blogs and gossip items about herself.

"When I came home, she was throwing everything in [the] fridge in the trash," Love said. "I said, 'What's going on?' And she had read all these negative comments about herself."

Love, who is working on a new album, is determined to stay sober and keep her life -- and her daughter's -- on track.

"She's fantastic," Love said. "She's top of her class, very popular. She hates when I say this, as a matter of fact, she corrects me. I was saying she never kissed a boy. She did kiss a boy, but it was a little kiss. And she's a great sportswoman, and just a great kid all around."

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