kathryn leigh scott osteoarthritis

Kathryn Leigh Scott: Out of the Shadows

It’s early morning in Los Angeles, and actress Kathryn Leigh Scott, despite a long flight from New York the day before, has finished her morning walk before heading to wardrobe for her new film, The Eleventh Green. At 74, she exercises every day, which has helped her stay fit – and recover quickly after two hip replacements.

While Kathryn is often remembered for her roles in the television soap opera Dark Shadows, a cult hit that ran from 1966 to 1971, her acting career spans over 50 years, with a wide range of roles in television and movies. In addition, she has authored six books, both fiction and nonfiction.

But there have been times when her trademark smile was masking intense pain – emotional as well as physical. Hip osteoarthritis, which she believes was worsened by the stress and physical strain of taking care of her late husband, Los Angeles Magazine founder Geoff Miller, led to her two hip replacements.

“In the last year of Geoff’s life, I was his primary caregiver,” Kathryn says. “Since he couldn’t walk without falling, I would transfer him from our bed to his wheelchair, and help him exit the car using a gait belt.”

The two were married for 20 years before Geoff’s death from progressive supra­nuclear palsy (PSP), a rare degenerative brain disease. Diagnosed in 2005, he died in April 2011. Kathryn chronicles their story in two of her books, Last Dance at the Savoy (Cumberland Press, 2016) and Now With You, Now Without You: My Journey Through Life and Love (Grand Harbor Press, 2017).

Like many caregivers, Kathryn neglected her own health. She coped with the worsening pain and stiffness in her left hip by taking a prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, but six months after Geoff’s death, it was so bad that she was dragging her leg.

“My doctor said that since exercise and medication no longer seemed to be alleviating the pain, the time had come for me to consider hip replacement surgery,” she recalls.

She had her left hip replaced in October, 2011. Four months later, she traveled to Norway with family and was able to hike in the mountains.

“My doctor said going into surgery at a healthy weight and exercising regularly helped me to recover more quickly,” she says. “Since I do a lot of writing, I’m sitting for most of the day. I try to counter that by getting up every hour to walk around and do stretches.”

Her right hip was replaced in February of last year. With physical therapy, she was able to resume most of her activities within about 10 days and she no longer has pain.

On this day, Kathryn is reh­ears­ing for The Eleventh Green, a feature film set to release in late 2018 or 2019 in which she plays First Lady Mamie Eisenhower in 1967.

The Eleventh Green is the fifth film I’ve done in the past year and I feel very blessed to be doing work I love and find so fulfilling,” she says.

In addition, she is working on another book and preparing for several new acting projects.

“As I mention in my new book, ret­urning to my twin careers, acting and writing, has served me well in dealing with the grief and emptiness of not having Geoff in my life,” Kathryn says. “I’ve also learned to not waste the moments we have in life, but rather to savor the here and now.”

From Shadows to Limelight

Dark Shadows (1966-1971), a soap opera that became a cult hit, launched Kathryn’s acting career. Like others in the core cast, she played several characters – notably waitress Maggie Evans and Josette DuPres, the lover of vampire Barnabus Collins. Since then, she has had roles in numerous TV shows and movies over the decades, including a guest role in Tim Burton’s 2012 film version of Dark Shadows. Here are a few of her credits:

  • 1970s – The Great Gatsby, Dial M for Murder, Edward the King, Little House on the Prairie, Dynasty
  • 1980s  – Cagney and Lacy, The A-Team, Knot’s Landing, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dallas
  • 1990s  – 21 Jump Street, Matlock, Jake and the Fatman
  • 2000s  – The Goldbergs (recur­ring role as Miriam), Old Dogs and New Tricks, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Staying Active

Despite her busy schedule, Kathryn makes it a priority to work out 45 minutes six days a week. She takes Pilates classes (on a mat) and does core strength workouts using hand weights. On Sundays, she doesn’t work out but enjoys long walks and swimming when she has time.

Author: LINDA CHILDERS 

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