Living in Hollywood, I’m surrounded by face lifts. Half the people you pass in the street who are over 50 seem to have had a little something done. A tweak, a lift, or a total overhaul that leaves their eyebrows locked in the “oooh!” position, their top lip fixed rigid like a ventriloquist dummy’s, cheeks as round and smooth as bobbing apples, and everything else pulled taut, stretched tight, and held in place around the back with a bulldog clip. It’s the norm here rather than the exception.
What these people don’t realize is that: a) face lifts sag, so eventually you have to have them re-done, and b) by the time you reach 70, all your surgical chickens come home to roost for the whole world to see, leaving you looking like a deflated party balloon.
I have a friend in her sixties who comes to dinner sometimes. She’s always tampering with her looks. You think you know her, then, boom, she’ll surprise you by turning up looking like a total stranger. A stranger with the same features, but in a different order. Or polished. Or with one eye slightly bigger than the other.
It’s highly disturbing, and I would never, ever do it myself, any more than I would have, say, Botox injected into my muscles and risk ending up with a stiff Frankenstein forehead like Simon Cowell and Sharon Osbourne, or Lasik surgery on my eyes, not after hearing Kathy Griffin say she’s now 30% blind, and after I read that the earliest pioneers of this technique in Japan have found their scar tissue ripping, also leading to partial blindness.
By the way, the reason I mention all of this is because 7-time Emmy winner Mary Tyler Moore was on Letterman the other night. She’s 72, and I don’t know what happened, but I’m guessing it’s a ton of surgery, because she looks terrible. Teeeerrrrrrible. Tweaked, stretched, gruesomely fiddled with, or something. Whatever she did – boy, how she must be regretting it now. If you ever wince when you see your own reflection, go look at photos of her and you’ll feel ten times better immediately.
Of course, you can’t assert that people have had plastic surgery when they might not have done, so I’m not definitely saying she has, you understand. But the signs are usually right there.
For me, the telltale pointer is your own shock when you next see them.
Take, for instance, Joan Rivers, who’s the nearest thing we have to, if not a comedy goddess, then certainly a living waxwork of one. According to her own recent reality show, she’s had….guess how many procedures. Go on, guess.
Is that even humanly possible? Has to be a joke, right? Did it actually say ’74′ and my eyes were blurred and saw triple figures? God, I’d like to think so, for her sake. But no, I went back and checked. 744.
And believe me, without make-up, the evidence of what Joan has done to herself over the years is right there: she has a face like an unbaked scone. It’s beyond sad. How lost, I wonder, how troubled, and how much must you hate yourself deep, deep inside, to do something like this to your face? That’s the question I ask when I see people like that. Especially if it turns you into a laughing stock. The irony is that her main claim to fame these days is Fashion Police, a horrible bitchy show in which she criticizes and jokes about the way celebrities look, which everyone laughs and thinks to themselves, “Jeez, with that face, how does she even have the nerve to attack anyone else?”
Then there’s Liza Minnelli. She was on Rosie O’Donnell’s variety show a couple years ago. The woman still seemed as ditsy and addled as ever, but now she’s a different Liza somehow. Thinner, more vibrant, and looking so rejuvenated that mere cosmetic tampering alone can’t be the answer. More likely, scientists secretly took her DNA 35 years ago, planted it in a petri dish, and started growing a second Liza as a back-up, in case the first one went right off the rails, which she looked like she might do for a while. It was a remarkable transition, and I still don’t know if I like it. Luckily, her bizarre routine with O’Donnell was a hokey, embarrassing, cringe-making debacle – so nothing’s changed on that score, at least.
UPDATE – 20th January 2011. Remarkably, Mary Tyler Moore resurfaced again last night on the second season opener of TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland. She was reunited with Betty White for the first time since 1977, when they played together in The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
In Hot she was Betty’s cellmate, lying on a bunk, her face hidden from the camera, which, in hindsight was advisable, because when she turned round, my lord…well, it wasn’t good. 90% of the studio audience must have been going, “Er…who the hell is that?
At 74 years of age, Mary’s new face looks dark and evil. So completely different to the girl-next-door comedienne we once loved (and actually recognized). I know that many years and a whole lot of living have gone into that face, but you could say the same about Betty, who may have had a little something done years ago herself perhaps, but is otherwise untouched and looks natural and wonderful, and won’t send the children to bed screaming.
So a lesson for all of us there – leave your face alone. Grow old in your own good time. Love yourself for who you are and stop trying to be someone you’re not.
UPDATE – May 12 2011. Mary has a brain tumor and is going to have it surgically removed. Now this kind of surgery is probably justified. But in any case, she’s an icon and a legend. Let’s quit our showbiz sniping for a few weeks and pray she recovers and survives.
UPDATE – January 16th 2012. Tonight Mary Tyler Moore appeared on a very cheesy tribute show for Betty White’s 90th birthday on NBC, and she’s not aged well. Frail, shaky, distant. She’s only 75 but at first glance she seemed older than Betty herself. The poor woman has had a brain tumor removed, so we must be very kind and understanding. She’s also nearly blind due to diabetes.
On that ground, I refuse to comment further about her looks. Except to say, “Oh – my – god!” If nothing else, treat this as a PSA from the showbiz community. Stop going to plastic surgeons. If you have third degree burns, maybe. On the other hand, if you look just fine, but don’t want to end up looking like you once had third degree burns, leave yourself alone.
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