Andie Macdowell on her late alcoholic mom: ‘poor thing, it’s a awful disease’

Andie Macdowell has always been goals to me. She turns 60 at the end of this month. I would put her around 50 but only because I’ve followed her career. She always looks so natural and gorgeous and every interview I see with her is a treat. Andie told People magazine that she had a tough childhood with an alcoholic single mother but that she doesn’t have any resentment or blame. Andie’s mom died of a heart attack when Andie was just 23. At that time Andie was already modeling in New York. Her mom would never get to see her daughter on the big screen, where she made her breakout role in Greystoke in 1984. (Do you remember that movie? They dubbed Andie’s voice!) Here’s some of what she told People:

As a young girl in Gaffney, S.C., MacDowell lived with her mother, Pauline Johnston, a music teacher, who divorced MacDowell’s father when the actress was 7. Johnston struggled with alcoholism and often wasn’t there for her daughter but MacDowell tells PEOPLE in the new issue, “she always loved me.” The actress says she doesn’t harbor any resentment.

“I don’t have a lot of anger,” she says of her mother, who died of a heart attack when MacDowell was 23. “I have a lot of compassion. Poor thing. It’s an awful disease…”

MacDowell, who turns 60 on April 21, can be seen in the film Love After Love and the Hallmark Channel movie The Beach House, airing April 28. Off-camera, she loves hiking, yoga and spending time with her three kids Justin, 31, Rainey, 28, and Margaret, 23, with model ex-husband Paul Qualley.

And although she admits her childhood at times was “crazy” she adds it was also filled with love.

“I felt loved so that was the saving grace,” she says. “There were good things. There were a lot of good memories too.”

[From People]

Andie MacDowell should still be doing big budget movies or starring in TV series, but she’s on the Hallmark Channel. There’s no shame in that and I just saw her in a Christmas romance movie on Netflix, Christmas Inheritance, where Andie played the helpful aunt with a bakery, mentoring the lead who had two dudes after her. Andie should be playing the lead! Netflix had that romance with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, but there’s a whole world in between end of life and very young, where 40-70 year-olds fall in love too. We want to see that in the movies and on demand. How about Andie and a guy who is younger, but not by much, like Keanu Reeves? I would be all over a romance movie with Andie and Keanu.

As for her thoughts on her mom, it’s sad. Alcohol robs so many people of their lives, their relationships and their potential. I say this as someone who cannot moderate and had to give it up a couple of years ago. It was the best and only thing I could have done.

After I wrote this story, I found this incredible interview that Andie did with The Daily Beast. She talks about Harvey Weinstein, how she had no idea he was a “monster” but that he didn’t make any movies with her after she did Sex Lies and Videotape. She met with him on a yacht at Cannes and realized later that he had been surrounded by hookers and that she was clueless about it. She said that she was married with two kids at home when she met him and that she tried to talk to him about his wife and kids but that it was awkward.




Photos are from March of this year. Credit: Backgrid and Pacific Coast News

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74 Responses to “Andie Macdowell on her late alcoholic mom: ‘poor thing, it’s a awful disease’”

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  1. Renee says:

    She is beautiful and has always had dream hair.

  2. notpretentious says:

    Not going to lie, she looks pretty harsh to me. Especially around the eyes. The rest of her skin looks very smooth though.

    • Fhmom says:

      Yeah, but that’s what a 60 year old looks like. I’m early 50’s and a friend told me that you age dramatically in your 50’s. I’m not okay with it, but it’s better than death, right? For me, it’s nice to see someone older than me who still can turn heads and hasn’t given up on herself.

      • notpretentious says:

        Oh no! I am 50 now, I guess I better brace myself for the down hill slope of this decade, lol.

      • M4lificent says:

        I’m 50 too. So far, I’ve kept the wrinkles at bay by getting fat!

      • CariBean says:

        51 here! I’m doing the as M4lificent 😂.

        I always thought Andie was beautiful, and still is. Wrinkles and all.

      • minx says:

        I’m 65 and honestly, I don’t have anywhere near those wrinkles. I have more weight on me than she does and I don’t tan my face, haven’t for years, so maybe that’s the difference.

    • Lirko says:

      Not trying to be a jerk or sarcastic at all, but harsh compared to what (or whom, I guess)? I would assume that most 60 year olds (sans aesthetic interventions) look somewhat similar around the eye area-and think of it this way-it means she has laughed and smiled a lot in her life (unlike KimYe, who say they never smile to avoid wrinkles… What?!)

      • Dee says:

        I TOTALLY feel like being a jerk and sarcastic at notpretentious’s comment. Andie MacDowell is GORGEOUS! You do know that wrinkles are NORMAL, right? And so is aging. And it is graceful and elegant to embrace ourselves at each of our life stages.
        Too many instagram filters and plastic surgery today. People don’t even recognize real beauty anymore! Grrrrr!!!!!

      • debra says:

        we are so used to looking at face lifted and filler injected altered faces we forget what 50-60 looks like. no one in Hollywood looks real. she is a stunning woman

    • Bungler says:

      She looks fantastic.

    • Pandy says:

      Yes! 56 now and in the last year, I have so many new wrinkles around lips and chin … saggy jowls. So I have no problems believing that the 50s age you dramatically. I’m hoping the pace slows any day now lolllll. She looks like a 60 y o outdoors. She looks amazing made up as well. She looks like a regular woman!

      • Rosalee says:

        I love seeing women in their natural state, I am 57 and salt and pepper, I cut my waist long hair last week – mistake. I have small jowls and wrinkles around my eyes.. I promised myself I would sign up for yoga..but by the time I leave my office I just want to go home and lay on the sofa. I think my 50’s was the period of rapid aging for me. My photo from 2007 is drastically different from photos taken last year.

    • SK says:

      Ugh I hate this kind of comment. Andie is is turning 60 in about 2 weeks. She looks FANTASTIC! Stunning in fact. Wrinkles are not the enemy! They are inevitable. I cannot stand looking at all of these plastic, weirdly smooth and overly plump in the cheeks faces. I much prefer looking at someone like Andie who has aged gracefully and beautifully.

    • PPP says:

      How are these the thoughts you want to put out into the world? How do you look at this woman and find something wrong with her?

    • perplexed says:

      Because of the length of her hair and her trim figure, I don’t think I would guess that she’s 60. I wouldn’t think she’s 30 either, but I do think she has changed my perception of what I originally thought a 60 year old might look like. Ditto for Ellen.

      I do think she looks less vapid than someone like Christie Brinkley, to be honest. Christie Brinkley has always looked good, but you can kind of tell she spends a lot of time ruminating over her looks in a way that it might be a 24/7 thing. McDowell’s face has some gravitas to it, I think.

    • DrM says:

      That’s what an unfillered, unbotoxed face looks like…normal

  3. Sam says:

    She looks awful. I remember a picture of her and her mother and her daughter. How come the mother became alcoholic ?
    She divorced again, this time her High School sweetie.

    • Lirko says:

      I think alcoholism (and addiction overall) aren’t completely understood. Though, in most cases, it is generally agreed upon (in the medical community) that emotional/physical trauma plus a genetic predisposition set a person up for problematic drinking and/or other additive behaviors. It’s probably way more complex than we’ll really understand.

      • Olive says:

        @Lirko yep, it’s often a combination of factors. Both of my grandfathers were terrible alcoholics, and my dad was an addict, so after an ugly and long divorce from our parents, it wasn’t a surprise that both my sibling and I have issues with drugs and alcohol too. I quit drinking almost a decade ago now but my sibling is still finding their way.

    • Mich says:

      No one “chooses” to become an alcoholic (or addict). It has to do with a part of the brain that drives survival impulses. For some people, that part of the brain decides that a certain substance is more critical to survival than even food and it overrides the frontal lobe where conscious decision making happens.

      • Betsy says:

        Interesting. I have many alcoholics, dry alcoholics, and other addictions in my distant family, but they’re functional (or dead of their addictions now). I keep meaning to look up why some people get addicted.

    • Bungler says:

      Sam, are you a troll?

    • SK says:

      Wow. Awful??? Just… wow.

    • Miss Melissa says:

      There was an interview with her a while back, where she said she took up smoking late in life and couldn’t quit. If you feel she has aged suddenly late in life, perhaps that is the reason?

      ETA – found it!

    • KiddV says:

      I’ve always thought she’s looked older than she should. She’s gorgeous and I love her acting, but films and her makeup commercials are lighted to her advantage. I’m always shocked when I see her in natural shots. I totally believe she’s going to be 60. I remember seeing a photo of her soon after her youngest was born and shocked at how old she looked.

  4. Nancy says:

    It is never easy growing up with a parent with any disease, as a girl having an alcoholic mother, I imagine she had a hard time. What bothers me, is referring to her mother as a “poor thing.” Sad, depressing, ill, lost, but her mother was a person, not a thing. Maybe I’m just reading the resentment and sacracasm in it, but it didn’t come off nice to me.

    • Stacey says:

      I worked for a man (who was my age oddly, 30 year old running a multi-million dollar family business) and his mother was an alcoholic and died from it. It was SO AWFUL. She wasn’t almost not even human. His family was so incredibly wealthy but his mother divorced the father and became an alcoholic. I mean it was a stunning dichotomy.

      When she would call, she sounded like an insane street person the phone. She was also completely unable to care for her basic needs. She never worked. I hate to say it, but I’ve never met a human like that. It was so painful for her son I’m sure to have a mother with that disease. She would basically OD sometimes and then have to go to rehab because of the DT’s and she eventually died very young. I mean. it was just awful.

      I could see his family saying “poor thing” the same way…alcoholism is such a ugly disease it shows it’s victims no humanity. The person they were are totally gone when the disease takes over.

    • Sayrah says:

      She’s southern. It’s just a colloquialism.

    • Lirko says:

      Yeah, I know what you mean. It read it a little like “bless her heart” which wasn’t always used as passive aggressive shade (at least I don’t think! lol) but these days almost always is. I’m sure she has some complicated emotions regarding her mom (who wouldn’t?) and perhaps that’s the best she can do. The other sentimens she shares about her mom sound scincere to me personally, though…

    • Betsy says:

      It’s a saying.

    • MellyMel says:

      It’s a Southern thing. You’re reading too much into it.

    • Frosty says:

      It’s a little bit of an old fashioned turn of phrase, and it didn’t seem negative to me at all. Also, 23 to 60 is a lot of decades to put a relationship in perspective. I was young when my dad died and looking back, now i’m older than he was when he died, and I see his flaws as human ones rather than huge scale personal tragedies they seemed when I was 15.

      • AMA1977 says:

        I call my little daughter “poor thing” when she is sick or hurt because she just looks so pitiful. It’s always meant with nothing but love and compassion. It’s a phrase, common in the South, where Andie is from. I am sure she is not trying to say that her mother was less than human, any more than I am saying that about my precious child when I say it.

  5. Stacey says:

    i love her wrinkles

    thank you for being natural

  6. MiaSophia says:

    Andie’s killing it! She looks amazing. And no desperate JLo “I-am-Dorian-Gray” BS. She’s aging and doing it with class and style.
    I also admire the grace with which she’s able to forgive her mother’s alcoholism. Andie must be capable of tremendous compassion.

  7. Honey says:

    For some reason and it could just be my perceptions but alcoholism seems to tear women down worse than men. And it seems like everyone suffers when mom is an alcoholic as opposed to just dad. I don’t know. 🤷🏽‍♀️ I’m just sharing my perceptions. I just have deep compassion and empathy for people and families who suffer through these types of addictions.

    • SK says:

      Not true. A friend from school had a high-achieving father who was a hardcore alcoholic. When we were teens he would get wasted and bring strange women home to his house where is wife and kids were and have sex with them in the living room or whatever. He gradually lost his mind and his job (he’d been incredibly intelligent and successful) and wound up wearing adult diapers before dying pretty young. It was truly awful and the degradation was depressing. Men can be just as bad and it definitely affects their families.

      • Luna says:

        I wonder if he had undiagnosed bipolar disorder? The risk-taking (sexual/alcohol), and “losing his mind” (psychosis) seem to fit the dx.

      • Honey says:

        I wasn’t trying to give the impression that dads can’t wreak havoc on families. Please don’t walk away with that misperception.

    • Lirko says:

      Many new studies seem to affirm that women are at a far greater risk for alcoholism as we age. No offical theroies as to why, but , personally, having just turned 40, with a child in high school and one in middle school, I feel like no one prepares you for how dramatically your roll as “mom” changes-how little your presence is needed (and/or desired). It can be really heartbreaking! Perhaps starting to feel a little invisible to your children, knowing that said invisibility will eventually happen w/society at large, as well, is a huge adjustment. That glass of wine at dinner becomes 2, maybe 3 on the weekend, etc, etc. But then again, maybe that’s just me…lol!

      I think w/men, it’s just been more socially acceptable for them to be heavy drinker’s during every phase of life (not that alcoholism for any gender is any less heartbreaking-truly it just sucks for the host and their families/friends reguardless).

      • Celebitchy says:

        Also menopause, holy sh-t it’s hard.

      • Honey says:

        . . . and loneliness for many woman and men too. Probably depression too. I used to volunteer with seniors several years back. Some of the women were heavy drinkers. Loneliness seemed to be a big driver. For many of them, at some point in their lives, social drinking morphed into escape drinking. It was sad.

  8. i, pet goat 2 says:

    Uhm .. these comments gotta be trolls, right? She looks great. And, more importantly, sounds lovely and content.

    • smcollins says:

      I think they’re so used to seeing botoxed faces full of fillers that seeing a naturally aging face is a bit jarring. I think she looks fantastic!

    • SK says:

      Agreed. She looks FABULOUS! I hate the botoxed / filler look.

    • Luna says:

      She is lovely in person as well. I saw her a lot in Asheville, NC, (where she has a home) bagging her own groceries, toting her kids to school and swimming lessons, she was always very pleasant. I was always dumbly star-struck lol.

      • L84Tea says:

        I love hearing stuff like this when celebrities are really nice people. I’ve met many famous people over the years–mostly “can I have your autograph?” type of moments, but I have 2 celebrities that I’ve met that were genuinely nice, wonderful people.

  9. Horsforth says:

    Everyone suffers if either parent is an alcoholic. My father was one, and growing up with a drunk father made childhood very difficult indeed. All children of an alcoholic parent deal with uncertainty and unstable households. Whether it is the mother or father makes little difference.

    • Lirko says:

      Agreed. This has been studied, and is not even debatable. That’s why the children of an acoholic parent (s) exhibit many similar behaviors-coping mechanisms employed to help them survive that chaos. Unfortunately, many of these adaptations can sabatouge our own relationshis as adults. Wishing you all the best…(((hugs)))

    • Domino says:

      I have experience with caretakers and alcohol, and they got angry when drinking, and it really messed me up. I grew up having had to take care of others’ feelings, anxious and depressed, wishing I had never been born, because my parents said and acted it. I am jealous of Andie she felt loved and can remember the good times, I just feel traumatized by the neglect. @Lirko thanks for your hugs! Giving them back!

      I have always felt Andie exuded an aura of calm and understanding, and I wonder if it is because at an early age she had to come to grips with her mom? I know alcoholism’s patterns and seeing my parents fighting certainly made me grow up fast, though I had arrested development in many other ways.

  10. Taxi says:

    I’ve always liked her. She comes across as both charming & down-to-earth, as well as talented & still beautiful. We should all look so good at 60. I prefer her natural & graceful aging to same-age Christie Brinkley’s dramatic surgery-assisted looks.

  11. Betsy says:

    She looks great and I would totally watch her in a romance with Keanu, that’s a great idea.

    I loved her dingy, kind of clueless but kind character in Beauty Shop with Queen Latifah (not “Latvia” as my autocorrect wanted to spell it, wtf). I guess from her Harvey yacht story it’s a little on the nose? ;) I can’t say I’d be any different in that instance though. I am frequently oblivious to that which should be obvious.

  12. Dorothy#1 says:

    She looks great but let’s face it she isn’t a very good actress. IMO

    • Sayrah says:


      Ok. I loved her in Groundhog Day and Four Weddings and a Funeral. But you’re right, everyone has their opinion.

    • Nibbi says:

      i think this is true, sadly. she was so weirdly flat and lame at the romantic climax ending of four weddings and a funeral and it has always thrown me off/bothered me about that otherwise totally enjoyable movie.

    • siri says:

      She ruined Four Weddings… for me. But I never got the idea to pair her up with Hugh in the first place. No, she isn’t a good actress.

  13. JA says:

    She looks great! Yes eye wrinkles but also laugh wrinkles and both work for her face. She looks like she’s enjoyed life and is having a great one so far. More importantly she looks healthy!! I’m hoping to make it to 60, 70, god willing 80s in relatively good health and to be mobile and be able to enjoy my golden years! I admit I often look at my face looking for new wrinkles but in my heart I pray I get to see my old age and that I’m healthy to enjoy it

    • i, pet goat 2 says:

      I love this comment.

    • Lirko says:

      What a healthy and beautiful attitude regarding aging! Sometimes I think this is the issue w/many of the celebrities whom seem to reguard aging itself as a disease and/or curse to be agressivley countered at all costs-they simply need to accept we will all die eventually. The point is living life, not merley looking good -choose your priorities accordingly! Brava for your comment!

    • Love this post, JA!

  14. Esmom says:

    I’ve always liked her and think she’s aging very gracefully. And I just made a connection — her daughter is Margaret Qualley, Jill in The Leftovers! I had no idea.

  15. Sarah says:

    I have to disagree that she looks natural. I hate-watched her Hallmark show, Cedar Cove, and by god she was literally incapable of moving her face to express emotion. It was to the point where it was uncomfortable that her character was so devastated over something but Andy’s face portrayed resting and relaxed. Bizarre.

  16. Dee says:

    How cute is that story about Andie chatting away with a gross sexual predator surrounded by prossies, and she’s totally oblivious! Love her!

  17. Dee says:

    Also, her green trousers are enviable! Can we get an ID?

  18. LoveBug says:

    I think she looks great.
    Not like a botox/filler freak.
    It’s good idea to wear sunglasses, because the skin around the eyes is very sensitive.
    I loved to watch her in Groundhog Day, Green Card, Four Funerals & a wedding and recently Cedar Cove.

  19. Nibbi says:

    Good God, almost 60 ??? She really does look 10 years younger, and NATURALLY, ie no fake plumped chipmunk cheeks or anything. THAT is #AgingGoals right there. Ppl saying she looks “harsh” are outta their minds, and are clearly too used to/ expectant of women injecting and freezing the hell out of their faces. Her face looks natural and is STILL stunning. Just wow.
    I’d like to know her regimen- she looks like she must take super good care of herself exercising and stuff to stay that trim but isn’t neurotic, hanging out at the plastic surgeon’s office all the time.

  20. Bahare says:

    We heat a lot about alcoholic fathers but not as much about mothers. My mother was alcoholic and was often nasty and abusive.It took me a while as a child to figure out what was going on not only because she was a woman but because the idea of a doctor’s wife
    but also we were always told that people of our religion didn’t drink much. ( It was the 1950s and 60s). It was very difficult and I was constantly afraid. My father was either in denial or an enabler or both and wasn’t a help to me or my siblings.

    As far as the plastic surgery I am in my 60′s and make no judgement of people’s desire to do it as I have thought of getting some work done myself.Problem is I am afraid of the results because many if not most people who do get something done may look less wrinkly and therefore younger but not better.