Helen Reddy, Grammy Winner for Feminist Anthem I Am Woman, Dies at 78

Helen ReddyHelen Reddy

Helen Reddy, a Grammy Award-winning singer and Golden Globe Award-nominated actress, has passed away. She was known for such ’70s hits as I Am Woman, Delta Dawn, Angie Baby, and You and Me Against the World.

Helen Reddy — A Life Well Lived

The Australian-born Reddy died after a battle with dementia at the age of 78. Reddy’s children, Traci and Jordan, shared a message with the world on the Helen Reddy Official Fan Page.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Helen Reddy, on the afternoon of September 29th 2020 in Los Angeles. She was a wonderful Mother, Grandmother and a truly formidable woman. Our hearts are broken. But we take comfort in the knowledge that her voice will live on forever.”

Born Helen Maxine Reddy Jr on October 25, 1941 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia to actress Stella Campbell and Maxwell David Reddy, a writer/producer/actor, Reddy had Irish, Scottish, and English ancestry. When she was just 4 years old, Reddy joined her parents on the vaudeville circuit in Australia. In her teen years, she thought about abandoning a performing career.

She wed and divorced Kenneth Claude Weate, an older musician who was a family friend. After getting a divorce, Reddy returned to performing to support herself and her daughter, Traci. She moved to the United States and met a manager, Jeff Wald, who became her husband. In Chicago, she landed a deal with Fontana Records, a division of Mercury Records. She recorded the single One Way Ticket. While not a domestic hit, it went to No. 83 on the Australian charts.

Next, Reddy moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at the University of California Los Angeles where she studied parapsychology and philosophy part-time. She recorded the song I Don’t Know How to Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar, which became a hit, landing at No. 13 in June 1971.

Her next hit, I Am Woman, was propelled to the No. 1 spot, thanks in part to the women’s movement. Future hits followed including Peaceful, Delta Dawn, Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress), Emotion, Ain’t No Way To Treat a Lady, and Somewhere in the Night. Her worldwide sales are in estimate of $80 million.

Reddy received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on July 23, 1974. She made many TV appearances on such programs as The Bobby Darin Show, The Carol Burnett Show, and The Muppet Show. She became a semi-regular host of The Midnight Special from 1973-75. She also appeared on The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, The Jeffersons (as herself), Diagnosis: Murder, and Beastmaster.

Reddy has some film success, too, including a starring role in Walt Disney’s Pete’s Dragon and the part of a nun on the movie Airport 1975. The latter earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer – Female.

In 2007, Reddy had a voice cameo as herself in Blue Harvest, a Family Guy spoof of Star Wars. She returned to Family Guy in 2010, voicing the opening theme song for the show’s fictional Channel 5 News.

In 2011, Reddy said in an interview that she was happily retired, but she made occasional appearances at supper clubs. In 2017, she appeared at a Women’s March in downtown Los Angeles. There, she sang an a cappella version of I Am Woman.

In May 2006, Reddy published her memoir The Woman I Am. Entertainment Hub sends deep condolences to Reddy’s children and other family members and loved ones at this difficult time.

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