Robert Downey Jr. has had his share of ups and downs during his career. Alcohol and drugs looked to derail a quite promising career, and they very nearly did before a somewhat sudden turnaround in 2004. Robert attributes his resurgence to his mother Elsie, in a touching message on his Facebook page in a beautiful tribute he wrote after she passed away on Monday, September 22nd at the age of 80.
You can hit the source link below for the full letter, I just want to touch on a few sections that really struck me. He starts with some excerpts from her life just before, and shortly after his birth.
In the mid ’50s, she dropped out of college and headed to NY, with dreams of becoming a comedienne. In ’62, she met my dad, (who proposed at a Yankees/Orioles game). They married, had my sister Allyson in ’63 and me in ’65…
There was another “revolution” of sorts going on at that time, of underground counter-culture film and theatre…and with her as Bob Sr’s muse, they jumped in wholeheartedly…
“Chafed Elbows” (a man marries his mother and goes on welfare), “Greaser’s Palace” (a woman relentlessly persecuted by God who never utters a word), and “Moment To Moment” AKA “Two Tons Of Turquoise To Taos Tonight” (in which she played 17 characters) were the stand outs.
By the mid ’70s, the downside of drug culture caught up with many artists. She was an alcoholic…
He goes on to talk about how she found sobriety, and how she was the reason he was able to turn his life around.
By 1990, she’d had enough, went to treatment, got sober. Just in time to enjoy several decades of heart disease, bypasses, you name it….
While I strived to have the kind of success that eluded her, my own addiction repeatedly forbade it.
In the summer of 2004, I was in bad shape. She called me out of the blue, and I admitted everything. I don’t remember what she said, but I haven’t drank or used since.
For everyone (this writer included) who has enjoyed RDJ’s recent work on everything from Iron Man, to the Avengers, Sherlock Holmes, etc. let me just say, thank you Elsie. He finished his post in a beautifully loving way:
Source: Robert Downey Jr.
She was my role model as an actor, and as a woman who got sober and stayed that way.
She was also reclusive, self-deprecating, a stoic Scotch-German rural Pennsylvanian, a ball buster, stubborn, and happy to hold a grudge.
My ambition, tenacity, loyalty, “moods,” grandiosity, occasional passive aggression, and my faith….
That’s all her…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If anyone out there has a mother, and she’s not perfect, please call her and say you love her anyway…
Elsie Ann Downey. 1934-2014