WEBBWEAVER BOOKS: JULIE MANNIX VON ZERNECK & KATHY HATFIELD

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WEBBWEAVER BOOKS

WEBBWEAVER BOOKS

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Actress Mannix and her daughter, Kathy Hatfield, recount the saga behind a separation of more than 40 years that began when Julie was forced to give up her newborn baby for adoption. Mannix was 19 when she gave birth, but in the more conservative moral climate of the 1960s, since she was unmarried, she was forced to give up her baby. The married father deserted her; her parents turned against her; and, with the connivance of a doctor, committed her to a mental institution on a flimsy pretext. Strength of character pulled her through, and after being released, Mannix took the first steps in her movie career. All the time she pined for the child she had given up. Julie later reconciled with her parents and married her lover, producer Frank von Zerneck, who had since divorced his wife. Kathy was brought up by loving foster parents and only found out in her teens that she was adopted. Kathy later married, and after her stepfather died, she set out to find her biological parents. The debut autobiographers alternate in telling the stories of their lives right from early childhood, which reads almost like a fairy tale but which is resoundingly true. Mannix's life in the Philadelphia institution, and her insights into the patients' lives there, bring out the bleakness of institutional life, particularly shock therapy. She led a life apart from the rest of the world; on the day the world was transfixed by JFK's assassination, she was being transferred between hospitals. A particular strength of the narrative is the two distinct styles of writing; each author states her own point of view simply, without embellishment. The reunion is similarly understated, which makes the meeting even more poignant. Shining through both narratives is goodness and the power of the human spirit. A dually narrated, uplifting tale on overcoming profound adversity.

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