From Breck Girl to Charlie’s Angels, to creative designer, this girl from Texas is like the “ever-ready bunny,” she just keeps going. We have all enjoyed her work, both on screen and on our television sets and of course, have enjoyed just looking at her face! She has had many challenges in her life, has met them head on and has become a survivor. 55+ Magazine is thrilled to bring you this interview from this beautiful lady.
55+: Tell us a little about your early family life in Houston, do you have brothers and sisters?
JS: I have a brother who still lives in Texas and I am very close to him. I had great parents and a grandfather who was very special to me. He lived to be 102. My son was named after him. I had a very normal childhood. We had a farm and we always spent summers there. It was a real departure from city life. I had such freedom in my childhood. I could just jump on my bike and ride to a neighbor’s house, play jacks or jump rope. It was such a different time and we didn’t feel like we had to grow up so fast. I thank God for those times and I miss them.
55+: You were a model, a Breck Girl and a Wella Balsam spokesmodel. When did you start modeling professionally?
JS: I did model but commercials were more fun for me. While I was with Breck, a producer by the name of Glen Larson saw me and wanted to use me in the TV show, “McCloud.” It was kind of scary but Dennis Weaver was amazing. Glen kept using me in other pilots as well. He also used me in “Switch” with Robert Wagner and Eddie Albert. “Switch” is how I got “Charlie’s Angels,” really. The producer saw me on “Switch” and said, “Hey, she is one of the Angels.”
55+: You were married a few times. Do you have any advice to for our readers on what you have learned from those experiences?
JS: I wish I could say something really profound here. You should look at what you have in common. You have to realize that marriage is not all a honeymoon. It’s a rollercoaster sometimes and there are ups and downs and you should not walk away so quickly.
55+: You have 2 grown children. How are they doing today and do you have a close relationship with them?
JS: I have a great relationship with them. They are outstanding! My son is in the film business, but behind the camera. My daughter is multi-talented. She is a certified yoga teacher, a writer, and a dancer. My daughter moved back home after I lost my mom a year ago because she knew I needed her and she needed me.
55+: You were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. How did you deal with that news?
JS: Your world stops, everything tumbles down. You’re feeling good, so you say to yourself, “How can this be?” The word cancer puts you in a place you have never been. It affected our whole family. I was fortunate that my nodes were negative. I had a lumpectomy and radiation. During this time, I launched a furniture line, filmed the Charlie’s Angel’s movie and became a regular on the TV show, “The District.” It was one of my busiest times. I was lucky and just flew through the radiation. It all made me stronger. It made me realize how important each moment really is. I would like, in this interview, for women to know that 98% of breast cancer cases are women without a family history. Each passing decade puts you at greater risk. If you have a family history, you need to start the examinations earlier but women, after 40, need to have a mammogram every year!
55+: Well…we could not interview you and not talk about your role as Kelly Garrett in Charlie’s Angels. You were the only angel from the beginning to the end of the series….was it a great experience for you?
JS: It was a very wonderful experience. It was hard work, it was an education, and it had its ups and downs. I look at it as a wonderful time in my life. I made friends that have been with me since then. We are still close. Charlie’s Angels opened a lot of doors for me.
55+: Losing Farrah Fawcett was a tragic moment in all of our lives and she was in your life all the way back to when you were Wella Balsam spokesmodels….it must have been sad for you…were you close friends?
JS: That was a very difficult time for me. I became even closer to her towards the end of her life. We had a lot in common. When she got sick, my mom was in the hospital so part of the time I was with her and part of the time I would not leave mom’s bedside. Farrah understood that because she was very close to her mother also. She was the first to understand that.
55+: Tell us about your role as Jackie Kennedy, which gave you a nomination for a Golden Globe. Did you enjoy playing that role?
JS: Oh wow! At first it was scary because she was so familiar to all of us, so how could I do this justice? How could I bring it to life? It was great because I admired her. It showed a side of her life that many people did not see. It was about her and not the president. I was just happy that I got to play her.
55+: Everyone loved you in all of the Sidney Sheldon miniseries on TV. You became the “Queen of the miniseries” for awhile. Was that a fun time for you, making all those movies?
JS: “Rage of Angels” was very special to me. I just had my son so it was a very happy time in my personal life and in my professional life as well. I love that kind of entertainment; miniseries. I love locations and bringing a story together in that way. I love the character of Jennifer. She was so strong and she could survive anything.
55+: Was it an exciting moment when you were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
JS: I was doing “Christine Cromwell” and when they told me I was just thrilled! I could not believe it. I was so busy shooting and my parents flew in for that. It was so exciting! Just to be in the company of all those talented people was an honor.
55+: From our research, you are the first celebrity to actually be involved in developing your own clothing line rather than just endorsing someone else’s. You must have a real creative feel for design, do you?
JS: Well, like I said before, I grew up with a very creative mother who was incredible at designing clothes. It was sort of a natural for me. At first I turned down K Mart but then I took a meeting and I fell in love with the people and the line they had in at the time. I thought “wow,” if I could be involved and could create my own line, be involved in the commercials, the print ads and everything, I would love it. I am with K Mart 25 years and I now also have a home collection with them.
55+: You have one of the highest consumer awareness rates of any private label in the US. It must feel good to receive so much recognition from your public….do you feel our love for you?
JS: I do. I walk down the street and see someone wearing a blouse that I designed or someone comes up to me and says they have one of my pieces at home and they tell me how much they love it. It is very rewarding. K Mart has been an education for me in design and mass marketing. It has taught me to be aware of your customer and what their needs are. I also have a phenomenal fabric line outside of K Mart called TREND which is a part of Fabricut. I also have a line of wigs which I do with Jose Eber for Paula Young. K Mart was certainly the beginning of my brand.
55+: I also hear that you are starting a skin care line. When is it coming out?
JS: Very shortly. If you go to jaclynsmith.com which will lead you to Jaclyn Smith Beauty, it will tell you. My husband and I are doing it together. It is such a good product and I want to hear what people think. I have used it all my life and I think people will like it.
55+: Any advice for our 55+ readers on life and the challenges we all face as we age? It certainly looks like that is not a problem for you.
JS: Well, it is not that easy. Aging is not about wrinkles or looks. The most difficult part of aging for me is losing a parent or a loved one, watching them as they go through their illnesses. Psychologically, I did not go through a midlife crisis thinking, “Oh my God, I am getting older.” It’s a trap if you worry about aging; it will eat you up if you let it. It’s a fact of life, we are all getting older. You need to get out there and be active. I do think exercise releases endorphins and it makes you feel good and that is important. You need to break away and have time with yourself, your partner, your children or your best friend where it’s not about getting up and punching a clock or rushing to work. Connecting and communicating is important. People need to stay fresh, stay vital and never give up. Go exercise, do charity work, go take a course in college, read to children in the hospital, see what you can do. I am a believer that the Fountain of Youth is inside you.
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