Jeanne Little entered the world of Television with for her fabulous outfits and wigs, boisterous laughter, make up, false eye lashes and her trademark saying: “Hello, darrrrlliiinnggs”!
Jeanne’s story is a classic one. Tired of boring maternity dresses, she made her own, which caught the attention of the local newspaper. An assistant producer saw the photo and the next minute she’s rushing to Channel 9 studios and starts appearing on The Mike Walsh Show. Sounds simple, it practically is! Forget Björk or Lady Gaga’s outfits, Jeanne Little was making and wearing outrageous outfits long before these artists, and will always be remembered for her outgoing, caring personality as well as these wild outfits that shook Australian TV.
Catch A Falling Star isn’t written by Jeanne herself, but by her only child, Katie M Little, who takes us on a journey through the stories she heard growing up, as well as through she was a part of either as a child, teenager, adult or a mother herself. You might be asking yourself why Jeanne hasn’t written her own account of her life. Sadly Jeanne was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2009, and is in fast decline. Catch A Falling Star, touches on Jeanne’s diagnosis and her decline and really highlights just how awful this disease can be.
Katie reflects on life in the fast lane. A life she was part of since day dot, helping her mum behind the scenes, putting glue on fake eyelashes. She also gives readers an insight into the backstage banter, the famous (and infamous), and watching her mum create those marvellous outfits at home (remember the outfits made with glad bags or bottle caps!?). It’s safe to say it’s a miracle Katie has made it this far, it doesn’t sound like that home was the safest for a child to grow up in.
Jeanne is not the only character in Katie’s life, there’s also an eccentric grandma, a stubborn father and a whole host of other characters along the way that’ll have you laughing at their hilarious lifestyle. You’ll find yourself raising your eyebrows at what famous people can get away with, whilst also feel sad at Katie’s relationship with her father and some other close family friends. You’ll also find yourself tearing up after discovering Jeanne’s battle with Alzheimer’s and reflect that perhaps growing up in those years were the best years to grow up in.
Katie took her own family through the ringer, trying to help and nurture their future, whilst also battling with her own parents. Raising three kids and having a loving husband isn’t always rainbows it seems, with Katie leading us readers along a very open and honest path, divulging plenty of personal details about her own family life.
I can imagine it would have been hard sharing a private family matter such as Alzheimer’s with the public, and this is something Katie reflects on at the end of the book. Personally, I feel that opening up about their struggle allows for greater awareness of the disease, and some of the warning signs. Jeanne’s life was a largely public affair, so it seems apt that her diagnosis might help others understand it a bit better and get help where required.
Catch A Falling Star is all about growing up in the Little household. Katie doesn’t write too much about her own adventures away from her family, instead pretty much all of the stories contained in the book include the characterful family and friends which help make this book a wonderful read.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Catch A Falling Star: A Story About Growing Up With Jeanne Little by Katie M Little is available now through New Holland Publishers.
If you, or someone you know, are concerned about dementia or memory less you can phone the confidential National Dementia Hotline on 1800 100 500 or visit the Dementia Australia website to order a free information kit.