Helen Reddy was a beacon of light and hope to her many fans, and while her death was tragic, she also brought so much good into the world. In today’s video, we are going to take a look at her legacy. Not only was her music a joy to listen to, but it also had more impact than you might expect. Make sure you stick around to find out how one of her songs influenced a major political movement!
She Was Born Into Stardom
Helen Reddy was born on October 25th, 1941, in Melbourne, Victoria. Her parents, Stella Campbell and Maxwell David “Max” Reddy, were both well known in show business. Her mother was an actor, dancer, and singer who appeared regularly on shows like Homicide, Bellbird, and Country Town. Meanwhile, her father worked as a successful writer, producer, and director. Her parents weren’t the only celebrities of the family, though. Her half-sister, Toni Lamond, went on to become a cabaret singer, comedian, actor, and dancer. In fact, she’s still performing even today! Meanwhile, Helen Reddy’s nephew, Tony Sheldon, also went on to become an actor, singer, and writer.
It goes without saying that Helen Reddy was surrounded by talent at a very young age, and it’s no wonder she went on to join her family in the business. However, while many fans believe she must have thought herself destined for show business as a child, this wasn’t actually the case.
At First, She Didn’t Want to Be Famous
Many people would consider themselves quite lucky to be born into a family of stardom. For Helen Reddy, however, life as a child was something of a nightmare. She felt the pressure to perform at a very young age. In fact, she began her career when she was just four years old, when her parents had her join them on the Australian vaudeville circuit. Around age twelve, however, Helen Reddy became rebellious. At the time, she wanted nothing to do with fame or show business. In fact, she said that all she wanted to be was a housewife.
She moved in with her aunt, who was also named Helen, when she was twelve years old. She enjoyed the stability that her aunt provided in her life, and she found herself longing to settle down. She married a family friend, Kenneth Claude Weate, when she was twenty. She gave birth to a daughter named Traci, but the marriage didn’t last, and she soon found herself a struggling single mother.
She Had a Hard Time Finding Success
Without anyone else to support her, Helen Reddy realized she had to generate enough income for both herself and her daughter. As a result, she became the very thing she rebelled against as an adolescent; a performer. She began singing, acting, and dancing, and she ultimately won the grand prize of an Australian pop music show called Bandstand. She moved to America, because the grand prize assured her a single with Mercury Records located in New York City. The grand prize turned out, however, to only be an audition, which Helen ultimately failed.
However, she decided to stay in America, and she worked hard as a singer. Her audiences were pitifully small, however, and even after meeting her husband, Jeff Wald, the two struggled to pay rent. Thankfully, all of that would change in a few years.
She Was Widely Considered a Feminist Icon
While it took a couple of years to become popular, Helen Reddy’s career was ultimately saved by her hit single “I Am Woman” which attained the coveted spot of number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972. The song was used by feminists across the nation, who used the song as a sort of anthem for their cause.
In an interview, Helen Reddy gave an inspiring answer when asked about her creation of the song. “I think it came along at the right time. I’d gotten involved in the women’s movement, and there were a lot of songs on the radio about being weak and being dainty… All the women in my family, they were strong women. They worked. They lived through the Depression and a world war, and they were just strong women. I certainly didn’t see myself as being dainty.”
While Helen Reddy’s hit song would open up new avenues in her career, her life would sadly end on September 29th, 2020. Make sure you stick around until the very end, where we’ll reveal the tragedy that was Helen Reddy’s death. And, if you’re enjoying this video so far, please take a moment to like this video and subscribe to our channel for more!
She Retired From Music in 2002
After many long years in the music industry, Helen Reddy knew it was time to start slowing down. In 2002, she gave a farewell performance and moved from her home in California to Australia, where she was originally born and raised. She lived in Norfolk for a time with her parents, but she ultimately decided to settle in Sydney for the remainder of her life. While she retired from her music career, however, she wasn’t quite done working in other fields.
She earned a degree in clinical hypnotherapy, and practiced for a time at the Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists.
Her Money Started to Run Out in Later Years
Sadly, Helen Reddy’s money from song royalties began to run out. Most people can’t fathom celebrities running out of money, especially someone as successful as Helen Reddy. In reality, though, Helen was struggling just to pay rent. Her apartment building was appraised, and she feared that the rent would rise, causing her to become homeless. She reached out to her landlord, who was stunned to discover that his tenant was the Helen Reddy. He assured her that he wouldn’t raise her rent, and Helen Reddy was able to live comfortably.
She Enjoyed a Brief Comeback in 2013
For a time, Helen Reddy was firm on her stance about returning to music, stating in multiple interviews that she was done for good. In 2012, however, she sang for her sister’s 80th birthday party, and many of the attendees congratulated her on how good her voice sounded. Curious, Helen Reddy played back some recordings and realized that her voice didn’t sound all that bad. In 2013, she began to perform again at various concerts. However, she was diagnosed with dementia in 2015, and while she still performed for concerts as late as 2017, her health began to decline.
Her Health Began to Decline During the Pandemic
Helen Reddy’s struggle with dementia intensified over the years.An important part of keeping patients with dementia happy and healthy is interaction with loved ones. Sadly, many dementia and Alzheimer’s patients are no longer receiving the care and attention they require, and their mental and physical health is declining rapidly. While Helen Reddy’s family did the best they could to stay in touch with her, the pandemic still took its toll on the singer.
Jeff Wald, her ex-husband, announced that her health deteriorated rapidly when she was no longer able to see friends and family due to the pandemic. Her beloved daughter, Traci, was able to be near her towards the end of her life, and Helen died feeling safe and loved. However, not everyone has been so lucky these past few months, and Helen’s story is still a sad one. Still, she left an important legacy, and she will not be forgotten.
Were you more surprised to learn that Helen Reddy returned to music after saying she wouldn’t, or that she struggled financially in later years? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!