Diane Keaton’s Struggle With Self-Esteem And Bulimia

November 17, 2011

She was one of the most in-demand actresses of her time, in love with Woody Allen, Warren Beaty and Al Pacino, but Diane Keaton has revealed a lifelong battle with insecurities and eating disorders.

Everyone loves Diane Keaton. She has that mischievous, slightly awkward charm. She has always appeared self-assured, with her all-natural beauty and borrowed-your-husband’s-suit style.

So it’s hard to imagine that beneath that veneer is someone who has suffered from a fear of failure, which crippled relationships and her health. But she reveals all in her just-released autobiography Then Again, including how she had developed a complex about her looks by the age of 11, sleeping with a hair-grip on her nose in an effort to make it perfectly straight.

Starting out in acting, she ate away her insecurities. While performing in the musical Hair, she preferred to go down to the local steakhouse where she could eat as many steaks as you liked for $1.29, instead of getting stoned with her fellow cast members.

Her bulimia saw her eating and purging 20,000 calories a day, including a breakfast of a dozen buttered muffins, eggs and bacon, pancakes and litres of chocolate milk. Dinner was a bucket of KFC, a couple of TV dinners, an entire Sara Lee pound cake, three frozen banana-cream pies, bags of sweets, all washed down with a large bottle of 7Up.

And then she met Woody Allen. He fell in love with her neurotic goofiness, and they became the it-couple around Manhattan. Soon after, her bulimia began to affect their relationship. “The demands of bulimia,” she confesses, “outshone the power of my desire for Woody. Pathetic, but true.”

Allen sent her to a psychoanalyst, who she saw daily for 18 months. And then suddenly, at 25, she says she began eating normally for no apparent reason.

Their relationship ended in 1974 and two years later, Allen wrote Annie Hall for her, for which she won an Oscar. They remain lifelong friends, but she admits that she still “loves” and “misses” him.

Then came unhappy relationships with Warren Beaty and Al Pacino. She’d starred with Pacino in The Godfather and after bumping into each other 15 years later, embarked on an affair. But she believes that he viewed her more as a confidante than as a lover.

“I wanted more, lots more,” she admits. “I wanted him to want me as much as I wanted him. I wanted him to love me.”

She gave him an ultimatum. “Marry me, or at least commit to the possibility.” He could not, and two months after her father’s death, he announced that he’d never had any intention of marrying her, and left her. It devastated her.

“After Al, I lost all semblance of sexy confidence,” she writes. “The truth is I never had it, but that isn’t the point.”

But at the age of 50, Keaton was to find happiness, adopting a baby girl who she named Dexter, and five years later, a baby boy, Duke.

“My old boyfriend, Warren Beatty, used to say I was a late developer. He was right. It took me 50 years to find motherhood and unconditional love.”

Then Again is a refreshingly candid reflection on a bittersweet life, bursting with honesty and refusing to care what others think of her admissions. It makes you like Keaton even more: she really is one sassy woman.

Have you read Then Again? What did you think?

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