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