Monday, June 15, 2009

Helen Hunt's Birthday

When Helen Hunt was 13, she appeared on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" as the daughter of TV news writer Murray Slaughter.

In the episode, pompous news anchor Ted Baxter pays Murray to write an article for him, with the condition that no one is to know that Ted didn't do the writing himself. Murray keeps his end of the bargain, even though he longs to take credit for his work — particularly when he hears his daughter speak admiringly of Ted's writing.

I don't think that was the first time Hunt appeared on TV. But it was the first time I had seen her. I was 17. And I was smitten.

I was still smitten when I saw her several years later as the co–star on the popular TV series, "Mad About You." Not just because of her beauty but because of her talent.

My admiration for her talent continued to grow. I admired her work in "As Good As It Gets," "Twister" and "Cast Away." With the possible exception of "As Good As It Gets," I don't think she has appeared in a film that has earned lasting recognition as a movie classic. But she has brought an honest and touching quality to every character she has played, and that has made her film and TV appearances rich and memorable.

I know I'm not the only one who recognizes, as Jack Nicholson's character said in "As Good As It Gets," that Hunt is "the greatest woman on earth." In fact, I'm sure there are others who are worthy of that title.

But, as Nicholson's character went on to say, "The fact that I get it makes me feel good about me."

And that is part of Hunt's charm.

Today is her 46th birthday. I hope we will see much more from this beautiful and talented actress in the years to come.