Of all the celebrities Gloria Feldt met in her 30 years with Planned Parenthood, nine of those as national president, actress Kathleen Turner was one of her favorites.
"I respected and admired her greatly," Feldt said from her home in New York, where Turner also lives.
The two women became friends. Then Feldt's literary agent suggested Feldt's next book should be a memoir of Turner, saying, "she's fabulous." OAS_AD('ArticleFlex_1')
That was 2005.
Feldt and Turner met at their favorite New York Mexican restaurant, Zarela, and talked about the idea. Turner demurred.
"I think I'm too young (she's 53 now)," she told Feldt. "And I think it would be too egotistical."
Turner's humility impressed Feldt, and when she discovered that biographies of men outnumber those about women eight to one, the feminist in her insisted she take on the challenge.
The book, fittingly released on Valentine's Day this year, is titled Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on my Life, Love, and Leading Roles.
Feldt worked in Valley for group
Feldt, who headed the Phoenix affiliate of Planned Parenthood for 18 years, returns to the Valley for a book signing Saturday at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, and Monday at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe.
For almost three years, the women explored Turner's life as the daughter of a foreign service officer who introduced the world to his family.
They talked about Turner's early interest in acting, which disturbed her father, the son of Methodist missionaries. In fact, while living in London at age 17, she and her father had a bitter argument over her going to Stratford to see a play. While she was gone, he died of a coronary thrombosis, for which she blamed herself until well into adulthood.
They talked about her almost instant stardom when she teamed with William Hurt in the 1981 film Body Heat and subsequent award-winning roles.
Turner's first love was always the stage, and after a remarkable film career she returned to theater for acclaimed roles in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
In 1992, Turner was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which slowed but never stopped her career. Doctors told her she should give up acting and that she'd soon be in a wheelchair. With characteristic feistiness, Turner responded with an expletive and marched on.
Turner fought through arthritis
When she entered trials for a new treatment, her arthritis went into remission.
Another chapter of her life: Turner's amicable divorce from husband Jay Weiss, with whom she has a grown daughter.
It's all between the pages of Send Yourself Roses.
Publishers Weekly said of the book, " . . . Turner's vision of life's many possibilities - even as she gets older - is surely inspiring."
The review also noted Turner's sprinkling of expletives. Feldt resisted soft-peddling the outspoken star.
Readers have embraced the honesty of the book, she said. Others with arthritis have applauded Turner's speaking out. The book even landed on the New York Times bestseller list.
"We are very happy with the book," Feldt said.
Collaborating on Send Yourself Roses has deepened the friendship between Feldt and Turner, who is now directing Crimes of the Heart off Broadway and teaching acting at New York University.
The book forced Turner to confront her talent, something the actress never bragged about, Feldt said. She's never read reviews, never kept photographs or mementoes.
"It got her to really be able to see the body of work she has done," Feldt said. "She is an amazing actress."