Jane’s good medicine

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

IT TOOK a near-death ex­pe­ri­ence to turn ac­tor Jane Sey­mour’s life around. She was mak­ing a biopic on Maria Callas in Spain when she came down with bron­chi­tis. An an­tibi­otic was in­jected into a vein in­stead of the mus­cle and Sey­mour — best known as the in­vin­ci­ble Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman, and more re­cently for ap­pear­ances on Smal­lville and as a pan­el­list on chat show The View — went into ana­phy­lac­tic shock.

‘‘The nurse who had ad­min­is­tered it saved my life by in­ject­ing me with cor­ti­sone and adren­a­line, but I did ac­tu­ally leave my body, see the white light, see the peo­ple re­sus­ci­tat­ing me and all of that,’’ she says, seated on a couch in her liv­ing room.

‘‘And af­ter that I re­alised that you take noth­ing with you in this life.’’

Since then she hasn’t wasted a nanosec­ond. She and her hus­band, pro­ducer-di­rec­tor James Keach, have six chil­dren be­tween them, the last, 12-year-old twin boys, are at foot­ball prac­tice to­day.

The oth­ers are on their own, but fre­quent habitues of the Keach home. Be­sides moth­er­hood, Sey­mour has main­tained a fast-paced tele­vi­sion and film ca­reer and is an artist of some re­pute.

Her spa­cious liv­ing room, over­look­ing the Pa­cific Ocean, con­tains six of her large flo­ral paint­ings.

‘‘I paint and de­sign pretty much ev­ery day,’’ she says.

‘‘Three of my paint­ings were ac­tu­ally in the Guggenheim for at least 12 hours,’’ she says with a laugh, re­call­ing paint­ings do­nated for char­ity. ‘‘And I’m get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter. I’m sculpt­ing as well.

‘‘I de­sign jew­ellery and home goods and a lot of things. It’s a real pas­sion for me. Had I not gone through the worst time in my life this gift wouldn’t have hap­pened to me,’’ she says.

The worst time of her life was when she di­vorced her third hus­band, David Flynn, 17 years ago.

‘‘When I turned 40 I had a re­ally bad year be­cause my fa­ther died of can­cer that hadn’t been de­tected and they didn’t do the right thing,’’ she says.

‘‘My now very ex-hus­band was un­be­liev­ably un­faith­ful. And I found out our en­tire fi­nan­cial cir­cum­stances were a com­plete dis­as­ter. He was my busi­ness man­ager and that was dev­as­tat­ing. So I went through a ter­ri­ble di­vorce. I thought I was go­ing to have to be bank­rupt and re­ally lost all sense of self-es­teem and ev­ery­thing. I lost ev­ery­thing. I lost my homes, ev­ery­thing.’’

It was Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman that saved her from bank­ruptcy.

‘‘I lit­er­ally called my agent and said, ‘I need to work’. He said, ‘OK. That’s in­ter­est­ing’. So he said, ‘Any­thing?’ I said, ‘Any­thing’.

‘‘So he called all the net­works and said, ‘Jane will do any­thing but she’s got to do it now’. And CBS said, ‘We’ve got this movie called Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman. We don’t think it’ll make it as a se­ries, but in case it does, we need her to sign for five years. She has to start to­mor­row morn­ing at 5am’.

‘‘That was it. I signed for a fiveyear deal with the un­der­stand­ing that it was never go­ing to hap­pen be­cause it was a lit­tle movie they didn’t be­lieve in, any­way. I thought it was a beau­ti­ful script and loved the char­ac­ter. And 180 hours of Dr Quinn later that’s when we quit,’’ she says, smil­ing.

Rock steady:

Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman and a near-death ex­pe­ri­ence means Jane Sey­mour now val­ues ev­ery mo­ment.

Pic­ture: AP

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