PARADE MAGAZINE

Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher is my favorite actress of the year to date. This is a grown-up who actually picks up the phone without the aid of PR flunkies and calls the reporter (in this case, me) to schedule her own interview. And despite her recent revelation to Vanity Fair that she had been molested by an uncle as a child, the glorious Teri was jolly and articulate. She was at Universal on the set of her ABC series during a lunch break when we spoke and cheerfully reported she was having steak, a baked potato and broccoli.

Her first book, called Burnt Toast, comes out May 2, and Teri will be trekking coast to coast, doing Oprah and the other talk shows. “The book was my idea,” she told me. “I was on a Barbara Walters special, and I used the metaphor of eating burnt toast—settling for second best—as my mother did, thinking: ‘I don’t deserve having the best.’ There was a gasp in the room. Women were responding. They understood the feeling.”

Teri said she thinks there will be an audience for the book. “People have seen me on enough talk shows,” she said. “They understand my voice is honest and self-deprecating—kind of an open journey between spiritual and insightful. It’s the story I want to tell, using examples from my personal life [divorces, raising her daughter as a single mom, crafting a career] of how a woman without great self-esteem was able to learn how to use some tools.”

I asked about the enormous success of Desperate Housewives. “The material is so good,” said Teri. “But now we, and the writers, have to maintain it.” And her role? “For me now, the glamorous, confident bitch is a reach,” said Teri. “It’s why I love the comedy in my role as Susan Mayer. She’s open, and she’s real. When I was younger, I was considered very sexy. I even got the Bond Girl role. But I was never cast as ‘the girl next door,’ and now I am. I am so grateful for that change.”

Brady’s Bits
Teri Hatcher grew up in Northern California and did a stint as a 49ers cheerleader. She was there when Joe Montana led the team to a Super Bowl. “The best part,” said Teri, “is that I got two free tickets, so my parents went too.” Her dad was an electrical engineer, and Teri thought about studying engineering herself but was sidetracked by a casting call. Teri’s first professional acting job was on The Love Boat as a singing mermaid. She went on to play airhead Penny Parker on MacGyver before nabbing the role of Lois Lane on TV’s Lois & Clark. In 1997, she was one of 007’s Bond Girls in Tomorrow Never Dies. After her first season on Desperate Housewives, Teri turned down several jobs in order to “refuel and re-family” and took her daughter, Emerson, on a safari in Africa. Her next hiatus from Housewives runs from May (when her book comes out) to July. “I haven’t yet gotten an official pick-up for season three,” said Teri. I don’t believe that’ll be a problem.

Personal
Born Dec. 8, 1964, in Sunnyvale, Calif. Married to Marcus Leithold, 1988-89, and to Jon Tenney, 1994-2003; one daughter, Emerson, 8.

Television
Includes The Love Boat, 1985-86; Capitol, 1986-87; MacGyver, 1987-90; Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, 1993-97; Desperate Housewives, 2004–.

Films
Include The Big Picture, 1989; Tango & Cash, 1989; Soapdish, 1991; Straight Talk, 1992; Heaven’s Prisoners, 1996; Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997; Fever, 2001; Spy Kids, 2001; A Touch of Fate, 2003.

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