JUNE 1976
For Kate Mulgrew...Life’s Not A Bed of Roses 
Kate plays Mary Ryan 
By Lisa Redding
Photos by Linda Rosenbaum 

Kooky Kate Mulgrew relaxes in her bedroom. She considers herself  "a happy misfit," and "That's the reason I'm in showbusiness," she candidly admits. 
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      Kate Mulgrew, who's only 20, could easily pass for 30, maybe even 35 with the right outfit and  hairstyle. Not that she really looks that much older, it's more of a feeling you get about her ... that her life has led her to places that the average 20-year-old girl has not been to.

     Kate wastes no time in letting you know that she has experienced more than most. Candid as can be, her life’s an open book - and what a life it's been already. Growing up as one of eight children in  Dubuque, Iowa, almost all Kate's memories are of happy, wild times with family and friends. Someone was always doing something crazy-often Kate-and everybody was always laughing about it. Laughter was also used as a buffer against the pain of losing someone very dear. Surprisingly, Kate can recall some light moments when her younger sister died. "The first thing somebody did when my little sister died of a brain tumor, a few months ago, was crack a joke. While Tessie was dying, she was the funniest one of all." Kate and her family realized that during their tragedy they had to grasp at every light moment in order to keep from falling apart. Also, their memories of the kooky times they all had together when Tessie was alive, helped to sustain them.

     They were happy misfits, all of `em. "We were absolute monsters," Kate laughs uproariously. "I can't remember how many times my mother had to run off to Europe to rest and clear her head. With eight kids, you can't have rules and regulations, they'll only be broken. It was constant chaos. And there isn't a normal one of us in the bunch. We're all misfits, each and every one of us. It's amazing! And we're all terribly aggressive, too. I was always the loudest kid in my class, always carrying on. But I was also anti-belonging to the group. All my little peers went to the country club, but not me. I regarded that as cheap and shallow behavior. In my heart, I probably wanted to go, but it was too much of a struggle to try and belong.

     "As far back as I can remember, I knew I was different. That's why I'm in showbusiness. Just the other day my boyfriend, who's a director, said to me while we were going for a drive, `You know, anybody looking at us would think we were two normal kids, but after five minutes in this car, they'd know we were misfits."'

     So if she couldn't belong, then she'd stand out. Kate was 12 when she first realized that  performing was a perfect vehicle for her needs. She read a real tearjerker poem entitled The White Cliffs in a school assembly and cried her heart out as she recited. This first performance convinced Kate that she had a natural flair for the dramatic. "I looked up when I was finished and all I could see was an entire row of nuns crying. That was it for me. I was going to be an actress."

     By the time she was 16, Kate was out of high school and intent upon getting into a good English acting school, preferably the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Most of the students were at least in their early 20s, and "veddy British," but that didn't phase her. Not much did. Kate has always been a tough act to follow being very much her own woman and completely in command of her life. By the time her 17th birthday rolled around and she'd saved up enough money to get over to London, Kate had developed into a self-confident young woman. But trouble was ahead.

     She applied to a number of schools in London and made the finals wherever she went, but that was as far as she got. This deeply upset her and she finally realized that she would have to give up her Royal Academy dream and settle for a school back in the states. With a number of summer university programs already to her credit, Kate decided to put in a couple of years studying at New York University before turning professional. For Kate, the opportunity to become a professional actress, arrived sooner than she had expected. Last summer she landed the role of Emily in the Shakespeare Festival's production of Our Town in Stratford, Connecticut. A few days later she read for the Mary Ryan role and was only five minutes into the script when she was told the part was hers. Her luck had changed for the better not only in the professional sense but also in her personal life-at Stratford she also met and fell in love with a talented, interning director, her now steady boyfriend.

     If the future is anything like the past, Kate should do all right for herself. "And why not?" she is the first to ask. "I want it all. I've always been an absolutely positive person. Negativism has no place in my life. Sure, I'd like to be a star, and in the future I'd also like to get married and have kids. Why can't I do it all?"

     Kate was even successful at learning and growing from the most tragic experience of her  life-that being the death of her sister. Her ability to cope with death was mainly due to her faith. Years before, the Mulgrews had abandoned their catholicism-Tessie's death brought them back. "We found we were spiritually crippled when Tessie died. We needed something to grasp onto in our grief." Kate sums up her feelings about her sister: "I'm sure God came and took Tessie because he needed such a good person in heaven with him."