After a seven-year secret relationship with Nancy Locke, Meredith Baxter came out in 2009. It took many years for her to speak openly about it, but now she’s finally in a place where she can talk about her relationship with her wife, and the “secret life” she led prior.
Meredith Baxter has been married three times to three men and has a total of five children. So it probably came as a surprise for many of her fans when she went public about being a lesbian, at the age of 62. By that time she had already been in a relationship with Nancy Locke for seven years.
The pair certainly didn’t have an easy time celebrating their love and talking about it. ‘Family Ties’ actress Meredith not only struggled to come out, but also with recognizing her own sexual orientation.
Meredith Baxter was born in 1947 in Los Angeles. Her mom, Whitney Blake, was also an actress, and Meredith still finds it painful to think about their relationship.
“My mother made me call her by her stage name, Whitney Blake,” said Baxter.
“I wasn’t allowed to call her Mom or Mommy from the time I was four or five and I’ll tell you (…) to remember that I couldn’t call her Mommy and that this is still an issue for me, it’s too bad. It’s really too bad,” Meredith told the Chicago Tribune.
Meredith soon orientated her career to acting and attended a Hollywood high-school. Her first major role came in 1972, with ‘Bridget Loves Bernie’, but the actress is best known for her role as Elyse Keaton in the famous sitcom ‘Family Ties’.
The NBC sitcom aired for a total of seven seasons between 1982 and 1989.
The series was a huge success, portraying the life of an American family during the ’80s. The parents, Steven and Elyse Keaton, were played by Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter. Their son, Alex P. Keaton, was played by the famous actor Michael J. Fox.
The on-screen family won America’s hearts, and also won several awards, including a host of Emmys.
Both Meredith and Michael Gross were actually born the same day, June 21, 1947, and the fictional couple enjoyed a very good relationship in real life too. It was Michael who listened to Meredith and supported her when her second marriage started to turn abusive.
Three marriages and five children
Meredith got married for the first time to Robert Lewis Bush, in 1966. She was only 19. The marriage lasted five years, but produced two children, Theodore Justin and Eva Whitney.
“I was a very conventional girl (…) I was raised in a household where my mother got married and I thought that was what you did,” the actress told Oprah Winfrey.
She then co-starred in the CBS sitcom ‘Bridget Loves Bernie’ with David Birney, who became her second husband. The couple had three children together; Kathleen Jeanne and the twins Mollie Elizabeth and Peter David Edwin, as per AmoMama.
A secret life
The actress admitted later that she lived something of a “secret life” with husband David Birney. Meredith accused Birney of being physically and emotionally abusive during the years they were married, as she explained to Oprah Winfrey.
In those turbulent moments, Meredith turned to alcohol to ease her pain, as per the Chicago Tribune.
“Alcohol just sort of helped me knock those feelings away (…) I felt alive. I could talk. I could be funny. I could be present. For a while it was just drinking in the dressing room before I went home, and then it became a tool to help me get through difficult scenes. I just didn’t tell anybody,” she said.
Co-star Michael, her shoulder to cry on
Whilst on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Meredith broke down in tears, telling the host she was “so afraid”.
“She started to go, and one thing led to another, and she wouldn’t stop crying,” Michael said.
At her most vulnerable, however, Michael was there for her. He didn’t really know how bad the situation was, but still he offered up his house for her to stay in for at least the night. Michael pointed out that he had no idea Meredith was being abused, because she decided to keep it quiet to protect her children.
It was only in 2012 that Meredith talked openly, for the first time, about her abusive second husband in her book: “Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering”.
Eventually, Meredith divorced Birney after 15 nightmarish years, and in 1995 the actress gave the big “I do” to actor and screenwriter Michael Blodget. This marriage ended in a third divorce for the actress in 2000.
When Meredith talks about her previous marriages, she says that she always felt there was something different about her, which caused her relationships to be short-lived.
In 2002, the actress had her first relationship with another woman and found the answer she was looking for.
“It didn’t scare me and I don’t know why I wasn’t confused about it. (…) I felt alive in way I had not experienced, and life was rife with possibilities. (..) OK, I’m ready,” the actress told Oprah.
That same year, Meredith started dating Nancy Locke.
“The healthiest relationship I have ever had”, she said, of being together with Nancy.
Unsurprising, then, that in 2013, Meredith tied the knot Nancy, who she regards as the love of her life.
It was intimate ceremony that they shared with close friends and family, including Meredith’s five children; a celebration full of love and music.
“Now I understand why marriage caught on!” Meredith told People.
Meredith survived a difficult childhood, an abusive husband and even breast cancer.
I’m happy knowing that the actress left behind all the dark moments and fears and found herself and her soulmate.
It’s never too late for to find true love and happiness! Share if you agree.