I always approach celebrity biographies with caution, but picked up Trying to Get to Heaven by Dixie Carter because I was on a bit of a Designing Women kick. Carter played the headstrong Julia Sugarbaker on that show. Julia was nicknamed “The Terminator” because she was able to cut everyone down at the knees with one overwritten monologue.
Having read through Trying to Get to Heaven, I have to say there’s little to recommend. Scant attention is paid to Carter’s late-in-life stardom as a TV actress. Instead we get ruminations on fashion, manners, literature, plastic surgery. For some reason Carter has self-appointed herself some kind of expert or sage on these topics. And while her scribblings about literature are readable (Carter was very well read), her thoughts on how women should dress seem laughably trivial. In one section of the book, she goes on about the importance of dressing infants in all white.
Those who are seeking some interesting dirt on Designing Women and the fallout with her costar Delta Burke, will be disappointed. She fleetingly mentions the hit show in passing, as she does some of the other stuff she’s done (for TV trivia fans, it’s a neat find to learn that she was on Diff’rent Strokes).
And while there an impenetrable layer of superficiality, she does talk about her face lifts with candor. This decision to share is admirable, as folks in Hollywood are supposed to pretend that everyone who ages looks younger every year.
Aside from some decent spots, there’s really very little about this book worth mentioning. She’s very proud of her Southern roots, which is great. Her childhood gets some coverage, which is fine – she hasn’t lived all that interesting a life until she became a TV actress.