Brett Butler, who starred Grace Kelly on ABC sitcom Grace Under Fire in the 1990s, opens up about her financial troubles. The actress recently shared her story with the Hollywood Reporter after blogger Len Strickler – a close friend of Butler’s – had supernatural encounters, starting a GoFundMe page on her behalf.
Butler admits she was initially reluctant to accept crowdsourced aid, so much so that when she finally said yes to Strickler’s offer of support, she feared it might be too late.
“I said to him, ‘I might have waited too long with this, but I’m so fucked up right now,’” she says. At the time, the former TV star, who once cashed in $ 250,000 per episode on the set of Grace Under Fire, was six months in arrears with her rent payments and threatened to vacate her Los Angeles apartment.
“I was ashamed. Almost ashamed to death, ”she adds.
Today 63, Butler’s star began rising in the ’80s when she graduated from the University of Georgia and achieved success as a comedian, inspired by her upbringing in the Deep South. She even snapped an appearance as a writer on Dolly Parton’s ABC variety show, which only lasts one season. Grace Under Fire premiered in 1993 – a year after Butler moved to LA – and she made a total of 112 episodes of the series. As early as the pilot episode, she drew on her own life experiences to shape her character, including some darker aspects of her personal past: She had survived an abusive marriage and a seizure of alcoholism.
“I’ll never forget when we shot the pilot in front of a live audience and one of the jokes was about domestic violence,” Butler recalls. “I said, ‘My husband brushed his fist and it was off.’ When they laughed at it, that answered the question ‘Would this fly?’ “
But on season four of Grace Under Fire, audience ratings dropped and Butler suffered from an increasingly debilitating addiction to the pain reliever Vicodin, originally prescribed for her to treat sciatica. The star’s increasingly erratic and erratic behavior – and the growing habit of not showing up for recordings – created tension with her co-stars, many of which died out of frustration. ABC eventually pulled the plug in the middle of the sitcom’s fifth season, when 14 of 25 scheduled episodes were filmed.
“At the bloody, bitter end, I was really heavy. I was crazy, ”Butler admits. “Drugs will do this to you. The show should have been canceled earlier than it was. “
After several rehab visits, Butler sobered up in 1998, a year she says she “shouldn’t have lived”. Her recovery was hard won, and the pain and scars from that time persist over 20 years later – including her current financial troubles. The singer says she made some awkward spending decisions in the wake of her success, which grossed about $ 25 million.
“I was a little too trusting of some of the people who worked for me, and a lot of things were stolen from me,” she notes. “It’s just stupid of me not to have insurance for these things. And to borrow a lot of money and give it away. I really felt so guilty for having it – I almost couldn’t get rid of it fast enough. “
Since then, Butler has found a few television roles, including guest spots on The Walking Dead and How to Get Away With Murder, though none of them have been anywhere near as lucrative as her role in Grace Under Fire. In the meantime, however, she has suffered from depression which she says hit her when she was around 50 and felt like a “monster that has moved into my house.” Then the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated her already debilitating agoraphobia, and her financial situation quickly escalated into crisis.
With Strickler’s help, Butler set a goal of raising $ 15,000 for GoFundMe, enough to keep eviction proceedings in check. Once that goal was met, Strickler raised it to $ 20,000. As of Tuesday (Aug. 24), they have almost doubled that goal, with fans and supporters coming together to help the actor.
“Brett is one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people anyone will meet,” Strickler wrote in the description of his GoFundMe page. “She helped me get through some tough times and I feel it is time that me and her friends help her get through it.”