I Love Wolves


In 2010, John and I were in Santa Fe, a place that is a Mecca of joy for me. We were window shopping. I was sharing with him some of my years living in Santa Fe in the early 70’s and the wonderful characters I had surrounded myself with back then: artists of all sorts, healers, hippies, cowboys, mystics, Native American Medicine Men, carpenters, writers, some ex-convicts, ranchers, and so on. I was having the blessing of being able to show John the sites of actual events in my life.

I love wolves. We passed a store of Native American art and I noted several pictures focusing on the wolf. I had to go in and so we did. The man in the store was the artist himself, Daniel Valdes. I loved his native art, especially of the animals, and most especially the wolf. Daniel was taken with my energy and enthusiasm for his work, along with my curiosity and interest in him. John was looking around the store and of course was holding the energy field as Traveler. Daniel and I continued to share and it became clear that what was really going on between us was the sharing of Soul energy and re-union.


Daniel told me he himself held a role as a Native American mystic, and he spoke to me specifically of the Raven and his profound relationship with this energy. I then shared my own life long appreciation for the Raven. He asked me, “Do you know your ‘animal’ or ‘spirit animals’?” He commented that I had a gifted sensitivity to natural life and the animal spirit. I said I did not know my animals, or my spirit animals. I bought several paintings of wolves and we all hugged and said we would see each other again.

I did not go to Santa Fe the following year. John called me on his last morning there, and I asked him to please go by and give my love to Daniel. As I was speaking to John, I was looking at the picture of the wolf that Daniel had painted. Shortly John called me back, and told me that the store was closed due to Daniel’s passing away a few days before. He had passed away while John had been in Santa Fe. I was deeply affected, shocked and unable to speak. I had been feeling so happily connected to him, and so eager to hear how he was.

John spoke a blessing of the Light for Daniel. I then sat down to do my spiritual exercises and to pray for him, allowing myself to feel the tenderness in my heart, and the loss… and suddenly Daniel came utterly present. It was temporarily unnerving as I had no expectation of such an experience. His presence was as a palpable cloud of his spirit all around me, and it was soothing and honoring of me as his friend and sister. I let myself take it in and relax and shortly I was out of my body. I had a remarkable and potent lucid dream. I was aware that Daniel was somehow orchestrating this dream. He was unseen but present within it.


I came into union with various totems that have a deep bond with me on some level of awareness…all appearing to me as living animals. I had the experience of walking in a forested and spacious landscape. A magnificent grey and white wolf appeared to my right and moved into natural step beside me. Proud, wild and protective, he was assured and committed that he walked beside me always. We understood this with no question. My right arm comfortably dropped to him and I lightly cupped his neck with my hand. The mantle of his coat felt thick and rough. We were in an effortless communion and both of us knew we were the stronger for each other.

To my left side appeared a female deer. Her fur and markings emitted a golden warmth that I could feel enter into me as she moved beside me. The warmth bathed me and comforted me. She was indefinably lovely and graceful, yet her muscles were supple and very strong. With awareness she tripped lightly on her feet in perfect rhythm with my step. Her eyes were the gift. They were rich and soft eyes that fixed on me with a penetrating tenderness. She was inviting me into the knowingness of the love we shared.

Next, a bald eagle landed on my head, his talons fixed comfortably like a secure solid band on the top of my head. His wings were fully spread and his fierce eyes, black and piercing, were in sharp and acute perception of all that was around us. He was poised to take care of any intruder approaching with anything less than love. Focused allegiance with my heart was all he knew and nothing else. My aegis, my shield and my sword.

Walking close behind me was a fully grown male lion. He carefully measured his distance to me with an eye to my safety. His head would shake with his sound, and a visceral, tensile and shameless power moved through him with every step. His motions expressed a tough nobility in the midst of his male grace. My back still feels the heat of his breath that blew forth with his unlimited and undying loving for me. This lionine presence thrived in unquestioned loyalty.

At some distance before me in awkward stance on two legs, walked a very large bear mantled in brilliant, luxurious black and brown fur. He walked intently, proudly going ahead before us all, doing his job and making sure it was heralded and safe.

Daniel’s energy and presence then lifted from the experience.

Still dreaming, there was now an addendum to these earth animals and their powerful alignment with me. A baby lamb was placed into my arms by Spirit. This transcendental innocence and sweetness and delectable softness snuggled to my heart and rested within me in total trust. My heart was enveloped with Spirit’s loving.

Daniel bestowed his gift to me. It is a gift of safety and protection that is real for me to this day. I easily feel the infusion of these beautiful creatures and their qualities. We are all deeply in love with each other. Each animal being is my beloved and an aspect of my own loving. I am beloved to them. We move harmoniously as Family, all One. Thank you dear friend, my Raven friend Daniel. Thank you.


More Wolf Love




I seem to have a unique relationship with fire.
I burn water.
I burn toast.
I burn food.
I have exploded an oven in my face the night before my opening as the lead in an Off Broadway play.
I often leave candles burning.
I manage to set off fire alarms.
I often forget to turn off the oven and the stove.
There have been more than a few steaks burning in flaming infernos.
I love candles and looking into the flame for the little man.

I don’t know why but none of this disturbs me. Perhaps Zarathustra is blessing me with the Fires of Purification.


When I was 9 I blew up an oven in my face looking for the match while the gas was on. It was a Saturday morning in East Rochester, New York. My parents slept in on Saturday morning, trusting that I was happily listening to my special children’s programs on weekend radio, attended always by my beloved parakeet “Keepie,” with my delicious can of cold spinach for breakfast. I adored my parents and on this morning I thought it would be romantic to cook something for them as a surprise breakfast in bed. I cannot remember what it was I wanted to make for them, but it required an oven. I remember seeing my mother turn on the oven, but couldn’t remember if the gas went on first and then the match, or light the match and turn on the gas. It seemed more sensible to turn on the gas and light the match. Less awkward. So I did. I turned it on and looked for the matches. I found them, lit one, and BOOM. A searing sharp warmth engulfed my face. Then it was over and I was frozen for a moment while taking quick account that this was serious, and considering whether or not my parents had heard the boom. They had not. I was not in pain. I went to the bathroom mirror and saw that I was in some trouble. My front hair was grey and singed, my eyebrows were grey and singed to the root. My eyelashes were but a fluff of grey, otherwise I was remarkably unharmed, just very pink and warm. I considered my options, and went for the scissors. I cut my front hair carefully, removing the evidence. I cut my eyebrows as close to my skin as I could, and cut my eyelashes to my lid. For some reason obscure to me now, I thought I looked just fine and I had escaped detection. I looked like a plucked chicken.

It is odd and perhaps revealing that until my parents were sitting next to me in the car later that morning, that my mother noticed, heartily screamed and asked, “What have you done to yourself!”


A Golden Thread Shining in the Fabric of This Life of Mine



I was sitting and reading in the lounge lobby of my hotel in Madrid, Spain. It was 1969. I was 23. The corner I had found gave me an open view of the lobby, and the comings and goings of people as I sat enveloped in a red velvet chair. I was reading Jung: MEMORIES, DREAMS AND REFLECTIONS. I was in heaven as I usually was when I was reading, and I was feeling content from a busy day of fittings for my next film, THE HORSEMEN, including a fitting for my new gold nose ring. It was English tea time. I felt I had created a field around me that said No Visitors, as I adored immersing myself in reading, drinking a lovely tea, and observing life around me without any intrusions of human interaction. A woman approached my haven. Before I could react, she was instantly compelling to my artist’s eye. She had glistening thick silver snow hair, flawless translucent skin with natural rose pink cheeks and clear turquoise eyes. She was short, slightly rounded and utterly radiated warmth and electric vitality. She was wearing black, simple and elegant, highlighted by the most magnificent American Indian turquoise necklace. Of course it matched her eyes. I could not even determine her age as she was so remarkably alive. I took all of this in within an instant, as I was equally negotiating that I wanted privacy please.


With an enchanting smile and no concern for her having intruded upon my precious space, she said, “What are you reading?” “Jung” I said, not knowing why I offered her up my book. “May I sit down?”. Oh dear I thought. “Yes, of course,” I said.

Within seconds, or so it seemed, I was in love. We began a pithy and effortless communion. Scarcely moving, highly alert, we were excited in our sharing of books, philosophers and Spirit. Our conversation was as if we were one person divided into two women making a new whole. It was seamless joy. I was starved for this sort of engagement and I felt I was with my best friend and that we had been so forever. It was a warmth of being increased somehow, as she was filling my cup to overflowing.

Sanora Babb was her artist’s name. She was Sanora Wong Howe as wife and partner. Sanora was a writer, a poet, and well published. Apart from being the wife of one of the film industry’s greatest cinematographers, James Wong Howe, she had spent her life amongst the aristocracy of the world’s finest writers, philosophers, artists, and scientists. She was a Muse as well. Hemingway, Saroyan, Maxwell Perkins, Steinbeck, Diego Rivera, Frida Kieho, Einstein and more, had been her friends and compatriots, and lovers.

I was a 23 year old actress starring in a film with her husband as my Director of Photography, and she was 60, an artist intellectual with a spirit like fresh breezes. She was my inner life made manifest in a friend. I was instantly less lonely. The promise of our future friendship was secured this day. If we had cut our fingers and mixed our blood speaking some childish poem of eternal loyalty it would not have been strange.

We both lived in Los Angeles. As the years progressed she deeply understood who I was in so many dimensions unknown by others, and I understood her. We had no age difference. We were just free, unfettered, and utterly outspoken and vulnerable. I gave her the key to my heart with abandon, and she gave me her heart with no frills.

She remained a golden thread shining in the fabric of this life of mine. True Wealth.

She passed at 99.
I was close with her in her dying process as she slowly let go of this world. In great spiritual intimacy, I ministered her into her next adventure, and she blessed me into the remaining chapters of my life. She is with me now, and I know she heartily approves of my choices and is glad. Fiercely however, she would be wanting more of me to be expressing creatively. We are both Artists still, passionate, loving and free .

Some of her amazing books:
An Owl on Every Post
The Lost Traveler
Whose Names are Unknown


Learn More About Sanora Babb

The Healing of a Broken Circle


I remember being 25. I remember Ryan sitting cross legged on the left side of the bed in his old brown plaid robe rolling a joint. It was early morning at our home on Anita Drive and I was dressed for my jazz dance class. My body was eager and alive with an electricity in every cell anticipating moving to joyful dance and music. Even the long drive on this bright Saturday morning to the class seemed thrilling in my new fast Radford Mini. I felt joy. But first I laid out the architectural plans of the new house I was designing for us at the beach. I was excited with the surprise I had for Ryan. With the architect, I had designed a racquet ball court for him. I got on my knees at the foot of the bed and spread the drawings out. I was immersed, happily pointing out the details in this new design, and Ryan suddenly said, “You aren’t going to want to live with me there.” I remember I looked up smiling. I could only register there must be something not quite right in the drawings and this was just an odd way of saying it. I digested his face. My whole body seemed to have a sudden intelligent awareness, and my energy began to drain into a slowing dullness. I was confused. I asked simply, “Why not?” I remember vaguely feeling that I was at the edge of an internal cliff and that I might suddenly and unexpectedly be pushed off. Time seemed slower. The light at the edges of the room were dimming. At the very same time, there was a narrowing focus and heightened awareness. All in a micro-instant.

“Because,” he said, “I have a mistress.”

My system froze. My heart rate took on a life of its own. Without any effort I was processing a worst terror come true. It was the oddest thing for even as my body went into a strange adaptation, I was taking in the one who I loved so deeply, who was part of the fabric of my heart and so familiar. Everything was so familiar but I knew that a surgery without anesthetic had just been performed, and now all was going to change. A stillness came upon me. It was a river of calm and it was warm and strong. Unexpected.

I said, “Would you tell me who it is?”

He paused, hesitant, “I don’t think so. It will blow your mind.”

“Well, I think my mind is already blown. I would be grateful to know.” I was aware my voice was not compromising my love for him. It was sweet and calm and open, with no judgement or reaction. You must keep your wits about you in a Tsunami.

“It’s Barbra Streisand.”

“Barbra Streisand?!!!!!!! WOW.” I said.

I adored her. She was the one and only Icon I allowed myself to adore. The conversation took on a new dimension. In this moment my Heart Self was stepping on a thin wire, high above vastly tall buildings in my ballet shoes, no net, delicately balancing myself so as not to fall. I focused my eyes on him to steady myself, the “him” that was the anchor of my affection, my loyalty, my “security’’. I saw now only a lost boy. Beyond my pain and my fear, my love and compassion for him rose up instinctively inside of me. I moved up onto the bed and came close into him. I reached out, cupped his cheek, looked into his eyes saying softly, “What are you doing, baby?”

He began to cry and said, “I don’t know.”

IN 2000, and 2001 I had very difficult years, actually they were devastating and in retrospect, utterly transformational to the good. At another time, I will fill in the events of this time that led to my being without money, no stable home base, ill, with limited strength and no seeming light at the end of any tunnel.

Five days after 9/11, I had a counseling with John Morton who is the spiritual director of my church, a wondrous man, counselor and my friend. I shared some of the conditions of my life and my confusion at how to handle my everyday responsibilities in order to survive with no job or health. I shared with him that I had been evicted from my home and through the grace of a good friend had been able to rent a small house that I loved and hoped to keep as a place to stabilize myself for more healing. The rent was due in a few days and I had no resources and was deeply confused and felt paralyzed as to what to do. John was thoughtful and suggested that I needed to ask for help. This idea was foreign to me. In fact, it was terrifying. He went on to say that “asking” was not my strong suit and needed to be developed. He said that there were people in my life who needed to give to me to balance their own imbalance with me, and if I did not ask them to help me, they could not fulfill their debt. I would be giving them an opportunity to come into greater balance with themselves. Wow, this was such a smart illumination in my awareness of another possible dynamic in “asking.” I listened to my beloved friend John and took the information he shared to heart.

As I was driving home thinking of the session, I was very aware of the rent being due in two days. Who could I possibly ask? I did not like this. There were no ideas in my conscious mind. I then heard in my right ear, “Ask Ryan O’Neal.” In shock, I reactively turned to the right and said loudly, “Absolutely not!” The “voice” was relentless, and patiently repetitive. “Ask Ryan O’Neal.” I did my best over the next two days to ignore the message. And the more I ignored it, the more disturbed I was becoming. It did not go away.

In the late afternoon of the day before my rent was due, I finally picked up the phone, my heart beating miserably loud, and I called Ryan. The relief I felt when I realized it was a machine, was quickly matched with panic about leaving a message at the sound of the tone. I sort of mumbled and barely alluded to what I would ask of him, then I hung up. Done. Relief. I was sure that was enough. It was embarrassing and it was done and I was letting go. Melting into my inevitable coming crisis, I felt like Scarlet O’Hara…tomorrow was another day. I went to bed early, immersing myself in pillows and comfort and my cats to be with God. I was more at ease asking something of God.

At 3am the phone rang. I answered and a voice said, “It’s Ryan.” Half asleep, I spilled the beans. I told him everything that had happened and what I needed and if… perhaps, would he possibly consider … assisting me? In answer to his few questions, I awkwardly shared my monthly nut and financial obligations, and told him that I had no money to pay them. There was a slight pause, and he said, “Go to my office tomorrow morning at 9am and there will be a check for you for all of your expenses.” I was shocked because it was a graceful experience with no sharp edges, no demand for when he wanted it back … in fact he told me to forget about that, and if I needed it again the next month, to call him. And then some Ryan humor I don’t remember, and a kind goodbye.

For almost one year, until my health was strong, Ryan helped me. At one point he said to me, “Thank you, Leigh, for asking me to help you…I owed you and did not know what to do about it.”

The healing of broken circles back to wholeness is what my inner life guides me to do. My experience with Ryan was just that, the healing of a life circle. My courage in asking for help, which in turn invited Ryan’s generosity, changed that moment of my life to greater good. What came from this greater good is a clean slate that is bright today in my friendship with Ryan. And he continues to extend his generosity to our two beautiful granddaughters.

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I share this very personal story because I live my life aspiring to be grateful, to forgive, to love, to accept and to understand others even when situations or circumstances have sometimes hurt me. Back in 1970 when my heart felt as if it was broken, I was a young woman who really needed to move on in order to grow. Ryan’s choices became just the catalyst, and the blessing I needed to move on, leading me ever more profoundly into my Spiritual journey. I was already learning that loving is an inside job, and not based on whether someone else loves you, or not, the way you would like. These lessons are not always easy and I am still learning.

Oh, by the way, remember John Morton, that wondrous man, counselor, and friend I mentioned? I married him in 2013!

JM LTY (2)
Read More – LTY Marries John Morton – A Blessed New Day

I Am Aware That My Heart Longs to Write for My Life

I am aware that my heart longs to write for my life.

I ask now for the Muse of  the Christ Spirit, my True Beloved to infuse my Being with Presence and inspiration, however it looks.  I am aware that something will fill the cup, the seemingly empty cup of now.

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John-Roger a love story, comes to mind.  Also known as JR.  How one remarkable being can define a person’s whole life.  For some it has been family, or a career or a child, or an event.  For me, my life has been the most truly defined by Love and this man, John-Roger.  I first met him when I was 27.  In retrospect I was lost.  The kind of lost where you are sort of doing fine, here and there, but arriving nowhere that really fulfills.  Still, I was vitally searching for something that kept pulling me towards the unseen, towards mystery.  I had always had a feeling for the unseen since I was a very small child.  It was in my hard wiring.  Angels were not strange to me, or soft hidden sounds, whispers of Presence.  I reveled in silence as it was full of company.  I could not see anyone but it was a feeling of such satisfaction and joy and safety.   I still feel most comfortable in silence.

I want to rage my wings wide and set myself free.  I AM!

Learn More About John-Roger

1966: Meeting Ryan

LTY and Ryan

In the spring of 1966, “Three Bags Full”, a comedy starring Paul Ford, Nancy Marchand and myself closed on Broadway. There had been a severe transit strike, and too much loss in ticket sales had occurred due to the lack of transportation in the city. I was disoriented. I was now out of the two year Neighborhood Playhouse program, and I had no job. The first experience of the “next job insecurity” that affects every actor, hit me hard. Within a month of the plays closing, I had developed pneumonia, probably from the stress of no apparent work. I ended up in Doctors Hospital to recover. While there, I read of a spa in Palm Springs. It appeared to be a health retreat and a place to heal. I called a travel agent to order tickets to Florida. The agent said, “I’m sorry, Palm Springs is in California, not Florida” I was taken aback. California, what a romantic and faraway place! It seemed much less accessible to me than Florida. I took a risk and said “allright, I’ll take a ticket to California”.

Within a week, I was in the Palm Springs Spa, run by Anne-Marie Bennstrom, who today owns and runs The Ashram Health Retreat. It was a wonderful place for me, and a revelation. There were palm trees, penetrating heat, non-stop clear skies and sunshine and my first “organic food”. I stayed three weeks instead of one. I had not told my agents I had even left New York City. I did love to disappear occasionally, and go where no one could find me. I found that a peaceful, private and liberating thing to do. I always felt more enriched in myself when I would return. In the third week at the Spa, I finally called my agents to tell them where I was. Stark Hesseltine, my primary agent said, “you must go to Los Angeles on your way back to New York, meet my West Coast partner and have some meetings with casting agents and producers”.

I was very reluctant to do this, as I was absolutely clear that Theatre was all I wanted. However, I respected Stark greatly, and I wanted to be an agreeable client. I went to Los Angeles and met with Wally Hiller, a delightful man and agent who immediately set up various meetings. I was innocent and unknowing of how the film and TV industry worked. I enjoyed going here and there for meetings, and didn’t take any of it very seriously. I was looking forward to returning to New York and preparing for the fall auditions in the Theatre. On my third day in Los Angeles, Wally told me I would be meeting the producers of Peyton Place. Peyton Place at that time, in 1966, was in its second year of being a television phenomenon. It was the first American night-time soap opera, and the country was mesmerized by it. It was based on the book Peyton Place by Grace Metalius. This book had been, in it’s time, America’s “raciest” novel. The television show of course, could not be so sexual, but the resonance from the books’ reputation lent a tone of the “forbidden” to our show. It was an ensemble cast of young and beautiful actors who were supported by many fine character actors and former film stars. The predominant young stars were Ryan O’Neal, Mia Farrow and Barbara Parkins. The older stars included Dorothy Malone, Dan Duryea, Lee Grant and many more.

The younger actors had all become stars and filled the movie magazines. I had never seen the show. I had either been working nights in my play, or had been in school. So, when I walked into this meeting I was relaxed and fairly unknowing. Those present were Paul Monash, Ernie Chambers, Wally and myself. I remember having a feeling that something was about to change. There was an excitement in the air. I don’t know, in looking back, if these were premonitions, or simply an attunement to what seemed to be an enthusiasm for me on their part. I cannot explain why they were so receptive. It was just a meeting. They were, however, actively looking for a young actress to replace Mia Farrow, who had left the show quite suddenly to start a new life with Frank Sinatra. They asked if I would come back in a few days and do a scene from The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. It meant a delay in my return to New York, but Wally Hiller assured me that it was important. I immediately began working with an actor-client of Wally’s to prepare the scene. We did it for the producers, and again, this sense of excitement was present.

I was now very ready to go home, and said so, strongly, the next morning to Wally. He said “Well, I have news for you, the producers want to give you a screen test”. This was my first exposure to the system where, first the deal is made, then the screen test. This gives maximum leverage to the employer. I did not want any part of it, especially when I heard the contract was for seven years. This horrified me. It meant that if I did the audition, and they loved it, automatically the contract would be in effect. I was so stubborn and resistant about it, that Stark called my mother in Detroit, to get her assistance. Mom called me. Her reasoning was that even if I was under contract and used for the full seven years, I would still be young, only more experienced. I would also be financially secure enough then to choose back into a career in Theatre. She helped me step into the adventure that was being presented to me. I agreed to the test, and began to prepare myself.

The screen test was scheduled in the middle of a Peyton Place shooting day on Stage 9 at Fox studios. My makeup for the test was put on by an old “codger” of a makeup man everyone called “Shotgun” I later learned he was very famous and worked almost solely with Frank Sinatra. The makeup area was on the open stage, which looked like a large cavernous warehouse with different interior “sets” of the town of Peyton Place. There were bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, and the interiors of Peyton Place stores. I remember how real they all looked. During my make up, I saw several of the young stars of the show coming to the stage. One came up and said “hello.” He was cocky, very sure of himself, and said something encouraging to me. I recognized him as Ryan O’Neal.

I was then taken to a living room “set” and sat on a couch. The actor I had worked with on the scene was brought in, and sat next to me. I saw a huge machine called a 35 mm film camera, with a man riding on it, moving towards me. Lots of men were moving big lights and placing their focus and attention on me as if I were an object. The large camera looked ominous as it set it’s position. The lights came on, and I saw just behind the camera eight chairs placed in a semi-circle. All the young Peyton Place stars were gathering to sit and watch my screen test. Somehow the word about me was out amongst the cast, and they wanted to see me work. I was not only adjusting, on the spot, to a whole new mechanical environment of camera, lights and crew, but now all the stars would be watching. The director of my test introduced himself as Jeffrey Haydyn. He explained what was going on. I must have looked like a “deer in headlights” and I felt like one.

When the moment came to begin, on “action”, I had already gone deep inside to a place where I was centered in the character’s life. Everything went so silent as the scene was shot. When it was done, Jeffrey put his arms around me and seemed very pleased. I felt like I was in an altered state. The next day I was told that I would begin as a regular on Peyton Place in the character of Rachel Welles. I had a month to return to New York, gather my things, and move to Los Angeles to begin a new career in television.

This photo of Ryan and myself, was taken in the first week I started filming, late August of 1966. It was my first photo shoot. I didn’t know Ryan at all, other than as a television star and a movie magazine “man about town”. They had me photographed with each young star, as I was readied by the Fox press department to be presented to the public as a new resident of Peyton Place. To say that life mirrored art would be trite, but I would have to admit that very soon, my life did take on the aura of the unreal. I soon became one of these young stars, and my relationship with Ryan began, which would alter my life.

Click here for the Peyton Place Gallery

LTY & Ryan – Gallery


Lucky, my cat friend

Lucky, my cat friend

A week to the day after my mother died, my lovely white Persian “cat-friend”, Quan Yin, disappeared from my home. It was devastating. Too much loss. A week later a dear friend, who like me is a tender lover of animals, encouraged me to get another cat. I was sad and very reluctant. When you lose what you love it’s hard to imagine anything in its place. I agreed, however, to just “look”. I went to the same place where I had bought Quan Yin some years earlier. I looked around, and nothing interested me. I saw a cage in the back of the store. In it was a short-haired, tiger-marked cat. As I approached, it reached its paw out toward me. I had always responded to long-haired cats. This one was small, sleek, with short hair and definitely not fluffy. I asked about the cat. Evidently he had been there nine months, no one had wanted him, and the owners were concerned because soon he would have to go to the pound.

They loved him, saying he was very delightful, friendly and playful. They didn’t understand why he was still there. He had been their hardest sale, and longest tenant. I asked to hold him. I rolled him over on his back in my lap to see how calm he was, and he let me. I turned him over and he gently climbed up my chest, snuggled in my chin and kissed me with his whiskers. His eyes were elegantly shaped, brown and bright. There were so bright! In my heart he spoke to me. That was it; we were mates. I took him immediately to the Vet, who told me he was an Occicat. Which he said, was a wonderful breed.

After he was with me a week, I finally “found” his name. It was “Lucky!” I had tried all my usual esoteric names, but he was something much more real. He loved interaction, communication and physical contact. He was fun! Quan Yin had been a very gentle, refined and aloof cat. I respected her and had accepted her. We loved each other very much at a distance. With all the changes in my life, I realized that fun and play and closeness were now necessary and healing for me.

Ten days after Quan Yin disappeared, she was found by a neighbor. She was very weak. I picked her up, so thrilled that she was alive and took her home. I joyfully introduced her to Lucky and she came immediately and totally alive! Who was this intruder in her domain?! He understood it to be his domain, she understood it to be hers. Now, here was a diplomatic challenge. All my years in the world of diplomacy and psychology and I didn’t know what to do. I called Carol Guerney, a famous animal “communicator” in the country. She came over to “counsel” them. She said Quan Yin felt her purpose was usurped by Lucky’s presence. Her purpose had been me, and me alone, and she was not interested in sharing. She only wished Lucky’s stripes would fall off! Lucky, on the other hand, felt she was the one with the problem and she had to get over it.

Carol gave Lucky two jobs, or “purposes”, in being with me. One was to keep the home free of flies and bugs, and the other was to stay very close to me physically and allow me all the hugs and kisses I wanted. Quan Yin reluctantly accepted that her new purpose was to simply be a serene and quiet presence and that this was absolutely a contribution to me. I dearly love Quan Yin. Lucky, however, has become my little animal “talisman”. He ruthlessly stalks all flies and bugs and joyfully eliminates them. He plays, he talks, and is never more than a few feet away. The joy and friendship and spirit he displays has been a gift to me. He has taught me what a gift it is to give trust.

Lucky has been in Vogue magazine, Garden magazine and on 48 Hours, where he was seen being treated by an alternative Vet. I even named my computer’s hard drive after him. I’m quite sure, in my fantasies, that Lucky Jeans was named after him. Since Lucky has entered my life, so have wonderful people and events. Of course I’m sure he had something to do with it.

1967: My Son

LTY and her son Patrick

September 14, 1967 was the day my son was born. I was convinced throughout my pregnancy that I would have a girl. I believe I felt that way because I was, at that time, very “soft” internally, extremely sensitive and vulnerable, and I had reached my level of tolerance for “changes”. In the year prior to his birth, I had my first love affair, with Ryan, and had become a major television star where my anonymity and privacy had gone forever. I had married a very volatile and temperamental man who didn’t seem prone to fidelity. The security of my contract with Fox studios was in the hands of “randomnicity”, or so it seemed. My life was in a state of flux. I had worked on Peyton Place until my fifth month of pregnancy. They wrote my character, Rachel Welles out of the show, by having her lose her mind and be sent to a sanitarium.

I was now free to enjoy my pregnancy without worrying if my stomach showed or if I would be able to make it to the rest room in time, between shots, to throw up. Ryan and I had married in my third month. I adored Ryan. Actually, it was more of an infatuation, as I had married someone quickly who I barely know as a person. We rented a beautiful house in Benedict Canyon that had been the home of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It was the perfect place to have an enchanted pregnancy. There was a pool under trees, deer, roses everywhere and a lovely tennis court. Ryan did me a great favor, he worked me out every day of my pregnancy. Sometimes he would have me run against a time clock, or simply have me run up and down the long driveway of our home. I started tennis lessons in my fourth month and was playing the day Patrick was born.

The night Patrick was born, Ryan was watching “Thursday Night At The Fights”, a television boxing extravaganza that was ritual TV fare in Los Angeles in 1967. A boxer, Young McCormick, was fighting that night and Ryan favored him. I was almost three weeks overdue. It was a hot September night and I was cooking dinner. I felt my first contraction while cooking, and two minutes later there was another. I served Ryan his dinner, sat down, said nothing and waited to see what would happen next. My contractions remained two minutes apart. We raced to the hospital. Patrick’s birth came quickly. I had only one hour of labor.

I watched the birth with great excitement and when I was told it was a boy. I said spontaneously; “How am I going to raise a boy alone?” It was clearly some deep intuitive knowing of the future that came out of my mouth in those extraordinary moments. To my conscious mind, I was still very married.

Because I had been so sure I would only have a girl, I had chosen no names for a boy. Ryan became intent on naming the baby “Rocky O’Neal”. I suggested the name Patrick, as a compromise, as that was Ryan’s real first name. Ryan agreed, but wanted to add the name Young to Patrick O’Neal in deference to the Irish boxer who had been fighting that night. So Young Patrick O’Neal made his entrance, and blessed my life. By 1970, Patrick and I were on our own and we became deeply bonded by all the experiences that can happen between a working single mother and a little boy. The “normal” family structure was not to be ours. We had to become very flexible and adventurous to make our special journey together work for the highest possible good. Today he is a successful on-camera sportscaster. He and Rebecca De Mornay have two beautiful daughters, Sophia and Veronica. The girls are fast growing into unique and very loving individuals because of their loving parents and who they are already as souls. This sweet photo of Patrick and me was taken by a great photographer, Bill King, for Vogue in 1969.

I Love You Alice B. Toklas

I Love You Alice B. Toklas

In 1967, I was released from my seven year contract with Fox Studios, where I was starring in Peyton Place, the first television nighttime soap opera. Peyton Placewas a national phenomenon at that time. I had just turned 22, and was newly pregnant. Ryan O’Neal was the father.

Ryan was still married to Joanna Moore, an actress, but had been living separately for two years during which time he had become a very publicized Hollywood “playboy”. He was my first love, and it proved to be a very difficult and life changing one. However, the greatest blessing came from it, my son Patrick O’Neal.

Two weeks after Patrick’s birth, I was informed by Fox that my contract was dropped due to the option they held, called “The act of God” clause.This meant the studio had the right to determine whether my nine months off work for my pregnancy was in the best interest of the show. They decided it was not, and my contract was terminated. This depressed me. I was delighted with my new baby, however I still wanted my work as an actress.

That very same week a close friend of Ryan’s came to play tennis with us. He was a producer, and he told me there was a movie at Warner Bros. starting production almost immediately starring Peter Sellers. It was called I Love You Alice B. Toklas. Evidently they were desperately looking for a young new talent to play the hippie girl in the film. Our friend said it was a terrifically funny comedy and that he could help me get an audition with the producers. Several days later I got the script, and it was indeed very funny. I was nonplussed by the character of “Nancy”.

Although it was 1967, I felt very removed from the hippie phenomenon. I had been working non-stop for two years as a professional actress with a heavy schedule. My focus had been my career. I had never said “groovy” in my life, or worn a short skirt, or smoked anything at all. In fact, I was still wearing little white gloves, stockings and long skirts. I loved only classical music, didn’t drink or swear, and was still a virgin at 21.

In I Love You Alice B. Toklas, “Nancy” was a free spirited character who said “groovy” a lot, smoked grass, and sex was where and when she chose it. Everything was experienced in a haze of delight. She also had a tattoo high on her thigh of a big Monarch butterfly. Needless to say, I was worried. I had no personal reference points for this character. Ryan was helpful. I had no idea what getting “high” was like. He suggested pretending that I was listening to a favorite symphony in my head while saying the dialogue. This would give the impression of being spacy and “high”. It was a great key for me.

We drove to the audition at Warner Brothers on Ryan’s new Harley Davidson motorcycle. I wore the closest thing I could to a hippie outfit. It was a short, leather tunic without the long pants, sandals and bare legs. My hair was very long and straight; I let it flow. My body had rapidly regained its slenderness, and I was very tanned from swimming during the pregnancy. I had not known that Peter Sellers would actually be there, but he was. I was terribly shy then, but I was warmly greeted and put at ease by Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker, the brilliant writers of I Love You Alice B. Toklas. I was taken into another office where I began reading a scene with Paul Mazursky. Peter watched. There was an energy of excitement in the air. I had an odd sense that my life was changing. After I read, Peter asked if he could photograph me. He placed me by a window and began to shoot. They all seemed excited and happy. I left. Later that same day, our producer friend called and said it looked incredibly good for me. The next day, I was told I’d begin shooting in two weeks.

Making I Love you Alice B. Toklas proved to be a life experience rich with stories to tell. My agent soon became Freddie Fields, a truly legendary agent in Hollywood’s history. I was starring opposite Peter Sellers, a comic genius who fell in love with me, and complicated my personal life with his attempts to deal with my devotion to Ryan. I smoked my first joint on camera having been told it was only Oregano. It was the first contemporary movie where smoking joints, making Marijuana brownies and getting “high” was explicitly and very humorously demonstrated. I Love you Alice B. Toklasbecame a cult-classic of the Sixties and launched my film career.

I Love You Alice B. Toklas – Gallery


Peyton Place – Gallery


1968: Andy Warhol

LTY and Andy Warhol

The week I Love You Alice B.Toklas premiered in 1968, I was immersed in press interviews to promote the movie for Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers threw a big cocktail party to introduce me to the press as the new young star of I Love You Alice B.Toklas. To give a tone of the “avant garde”, Andy Warhol was invited to attend with his colorful entourage. It was the first time that I would meet Andy. Several years later, while making The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, I would begin to “hang out” with Andy, his entourage, and especially with Gerard Malanga, a poet who was always by Andy’s side. This, however, was an evening focused on me and my film debut.

I arrived with my press agent and a Warner Brothers representative. This was a new experience for me and very exciting. There were flashbulbs popping and an enormous amount of attention and focus on me. I had been getting used to “attention” since Peyton Place and my high profile relationship with Ryan O’Neal. However, the energy of this particular evening, carried the excitement of the discovery of a new star in her own right. I was led to meet Andy Warhol, and he suggested that he paint a butterfly on my thigh for the photographers. Everyone loved it, as the photographers flashed away. It was a truly “Sixties” moment with Andy Warhol and the film epitome of the Sixties flowerchild.

1969: Avedon

LTY by Avendon for Vogue

As an emerging young actress in 1968, I now had a top press agent named Rupert Allen. He was older, and a very cultured and respected West Coast press agent. He was also a close friend of Princess Grace of Monaco. He was a kind and intelligent “guide” for me. I needed it. A lot was happening. I now had all the attendant people for a “rising young star” : a press agent, an agent, a business manager, a nanny and an assistant. I was 22. I also had a new husband and a newly born baby.

On one New York press trip, it had been arranged for me to be photographed for Vogue by Richard Avedon. Polly Melon directed the photo shoot for Diana Vreeland, the editor of Vogue. This was a new experience for me. I was scared. I had always been uncomfortable about having my picture taken. I didn’t understand it then, later I did. I didn’t feel safe unless the photographer was “with me”, cared about me even, or was simply attuned to me. I didn’t know Richard Avedon personally. I did know, however, that he was a Master amongst photographers. His work was awe-inspiring to me. I did not feel very confident that I could give what would be needed in such a shoot, as I was still very introverted. However, genius that he is, he quickly realized I was a dancer. He put on music that I loved, from classical to very primitive drums and encouraged me to move.

LTY by Avendon for Vogue

Something truly extraordinary happened. I actually felt like I was on some kind of drug. As I danced, I began to open up and free some very deep inner emotions. Before his eyes, and his camera, I felt like I became many women, as I moved to the music. He recognized it, and probably played a part in it, simply by his gentle encouragement and his unique, powerful yet subtle presence. It was as if we danced together. It was a very creative and intimate experience that felt very empowering. I literally felt as if I uncovered parts of myself to myself with his eyes and camera as my permission. It was the most satisfying creative experience I had had, in many ways. It remained a reference point for me of my emerging self. The photos were in Vogue in 1968, and they received tremendous reaction.

1969 Filming – Gallery