US Magazine
December  9, 1980 
Feisty Right-to-Lifer Kate Mulgrew has a new role as America's first saint 
By Pat Sellers 

Kate Mulgrew is in a snit. She's just had a "sour" phone call from her fiance, Italian shoe designer Roberto Meucci, and her romantic feelings have been curdled temporarily by their dispute over whether she should accept a part in a play or go to Sardinia with him for a two-week vacation.

"We had a pact," she grumbles. "I told him I needed two years to devote to my career, and he agreed. He's very hot to have 82 children, and so am I, but I want this time. So I said, `You promised, and that's that.'"

Mulgrew is constantly running into roadblocks in her all-out drive to do things her way. When she was making Mrs. Columbo and Kate Loves a Mystery, her tirades against bad scripts were no secret around NBC. "I wanted to sack the writers. The writing was terrible; a three-year-old could figure out the plots. I would call Fred Silverman and raise hell about the material, and I'd just get a lot of odd looks-you know, `Here she goes again.' And then, inevitably, invariably, I'd get roses, a nice little gold watch-anything to keep my mouth shut."

Sometimes she'd stay up all night rewriting the scripts herself ("I wasn't going to look like an idiot on national TV"), but despite her efforts, Kate failed. "We were in the middle of a scene when someone said, `NBC is on the line-we're canceled.'"

Exhausted mentally and physically, she moved back to New York and into her apartment on Central Park West. It's decorated lovingly-a bookcase in the living room holds her books and journals ("I've been writing in them daily since I was 14"); a hat rack is piled high with theatrical headgear; the wall behind the sofa is covered with paintings by her mother, and another wall is decorated with photos of family, friends and co-workers. There's one of her with Fred Silverman-in happier days-and a more recent shot of her with Richard Burton, her co-star in Tristan and Iseult, a film shot in Ireland that's yet to find an American distributor.

 Now she's heading back to the television screen again on December 21, this time on ABC, in A Time for Miracles. She plays Mother Elizabeth Seton, the Protestant socialite who converted to Catholicism, founded the American Sisters of Charity, and later was canonized as the first US saint. It's a role with particular significance for Mulgrew, who reconverted to Catholicism six years ago. Her family left the church when she was a child, but when she was 18 a younger sister died and her mother went into a convent. Kate also returned. "I won't say I followed in her footsteps," she says, "because that requires a discipline I'm afraid I lack. I live very much in the world. But I do have my retreats, I have my solitude, and I pray."

She doesn't expect too much flak over her being cast as the first American saint, despite the fact that several years ago she gave birth to a child out of wedlock. "They might protest if I had an abortion," she says, "but I think what I did was a very Christian thing to do. I gave a life. It would have been very anti-Christian to murder the child." As a very vocal member of the Right to Life organization (she spoke at its international meeting this year), Mulgrew unequivocally believes that abortion is murder. "I chose to have my baby and give it away. The pain of that will be with me the rest of my life, there's no denying it. But it's so much better to know that she's alive. A woman who has an abortion goes through her own incredible agony-agony she'll always live with, whether she admits it or not."

Mulgrew says she drew on tragedies in her own life to capture the character of Elizabeth Ann Seton. "It was like continually putting my hand in a socket." But apparently the pain was worth it: "It's the best work of my life. I'm high on it."

She has no qualms about more movies for televison-even willing to do a special, or a guest spot. "But I will never do another prime-time series of my own.” She's especially bitter, she says, because NBC lured her into the last one, against her better judgment, with a high salary and lots of  perks.

"I moved out here, changed my life around. The relationship that I was having with a terrific man in New York blew up because when you're working six days a week from 4:30 to 10 at night, the only thing you hunger for is to have someone  around-so I got involved with someone else, just as a survival kind of thing.”

Now there’s Roberto, whom she met while vacationing in Italy. They plan to marry, she says, after they work out a few complications. “Italian men are raised to believe they should have everything, and the women should give them everything- which I don’t mind, because that’s kind of maternal. But I do mind that kind of phone call.”

If Meucci thinks he’s going to turn determined, outspoken Kate Mulgrew into a passive bride, he’s got the wrong number.