The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Teri Hatcher

Teri Hatcher has had a long-running (if volatile) career that began in the mid-'80s with her appearance on The Love Boat. Her big break came in 1993 when she landed a leading role on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. A bit of a slump followed, but she experienced a career resurrection when she was cast as Susan on Desperate Housewives in 2004. 

It was that role that landed her an Emmy nomination, two Golden Globe noms (and a win for Best Actress in 2005), as well as a SAG award for Best Actress. While rumors circulated that she was earning nearly $300k per episode, Hatcher set the record straight in her memoir, Burnt Toast, writing, "I don't make anywhere near the reported $285,000 an episode, and never have." Even so, as of 2020, she had an impressive net worth of $50 million, and yet, despite these various successes, the actress has had anything but an easy, blessed life. In fact, she's faced more challenges and heart-breaking experiences than most. This is the tragic real-life story of Teri Hatcher.

As a child, she was abused by her uncle

In 2006, Teri Hatcher opened about "something [she's] tried to hide [her] whole life," getting candid about her experiences as a victim of sexual abuse in an interview with Vanity Fair. After decades of hiding the truth, Hatcher revealed how, when she was growing up, she and her parents lived in Sunnyvale, California, close to her mother's sister and her husband, Richard Hayes Stone. When she was just five years old, Stone, her uncle, began abusing her. "These are haunting things I've remembered all my life," she said of the memories, revealing, "I feel such shame, because it felt like I was special [...] but at the same time you know it's wrong."

Over the next several years, the torment continued — and her parents never knew. "The last time I saw him — I think I was eight or nine — my mother invited them over to the house for dinner, and I went ballistic," Hatcher recalled. "My mom thought that was pretty out of left field, but that was when her instincts kicked in." Although her mother "removed [her] from the situation," she never asked her daughter what had happened. "Nobody wanted to talk about it," Hatcher told the magazine, adding, "All I did was blame myself. It was something I tried to bury completely," she continued, concluding, "It's why I don't associate with my mother's side of the family; in my mind, I try to pretend they don't exist."

A tragic suicide forced Teri Hatcher to face her fears

Teri Hatcher had been actively working to forget her painful past when, in 2003, she learned a shocking truth: She wasn't Richard Hayes Stone's only victim. As the actress told Vanity Fair, her mother approached her during a garage sale at her childhood home. "[She] handed me these newspaper clippings, like she's handing me grocery coupons, and said, 'Oh, by the way, I found these.' " Through the clippings, Hatcher learned that Stone had been "arrested and charged with three counts of sexual molestation" after a 14-year-old girl who lived in the area took her own life in 2002. "I just couldn't believe it," Hatcher admitted. "I kind of freaked out. It struck me so strongly that — oh my god, he's been doing this for 35 years!"

Stone was being held on a $1 million bail, but due to loopholes in California State law, the case looked like it would be dismissed, and Stone would walk free. Prosecutors needed substantial evidence and, as no other victims were willing to testify, that left Hatcher at a crossroads. She wanted to help, but she didn't want the public to know about her past. Eventually, the actress chose to share her story and testified via phone. Her account of the abuse led to Stone pleading guilty and being sentenced to 14 years behind bars. "I knew he would not have gone to prison if I hadn't come forward," she reflected to the outlet.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Teri Hatcher's childhood traumas haunted her

Following Richard Hayes Stone's sentencing, Teri Hatcher was able to push some long-standing doubts aside. As she told Vanity Fair, "He pleaded guilty, and even though it wasn't to my crime, it was because of my crime — and that made me feel really validated. It made me feel that I wasn't crazy," she continued. "That's a victim thing; you ask yourself, 'Am I just crazy? Did I make all this up?' Somehow it might be easier to accept that you're crazy and you made it all up than to admit that it happened, and how awful it was, and how much pain you're in," she explained.

Despite giving her validation, however, the guilty verdict didn't erase her fears. When Hatcher was asked to call prosecutor Chuck Gillingham on behalf of Vanity Fair, the first thing she said to him was, "Is he — is he still in jail?" As Hatcher revealed, she still feels genuine anxiety about her abuser. "I still have trouble embracing that he really is in jail, and staying there," she confessed. "Like the acting-fraud police are going to come take away my SAG award and Golden Globe, and the real police are going to come tell me I made it all up."

Did her mother contribute to her low self-esteem?

Teri Hatcher's harrowing childhood experiences had a significant impact on her self-worth, but as she told The Oprah Show, her mother also negatively impacted her self-esteem. "[My mom] was very self-sacrificing," she revealed. "But almost to a bad point. She just never took anything good for herself, and that was kind of my role model and sort of what I ended up doing," she noted.

It was actually her mother's penchant for putting everyone else above herself that inspired the title of Hatcher's 2006 memoir, Burnt Toast: And Other Philosophies of Life. Revealing how the title came about, she said, "I was explaining what I do, you know, that I eat the burnt toast. I take what is last, and I learned that from my mother." That self-sacrificing approach didn't begin to ebb until Hatcher entered her 40s. "I thought, 'I don't want to do this anymore," she said. "There has to be a balance between taking everything for yourself or taking nothing."

She was trapped in a marriage without intimacy

Teri Hatcher hasn't had much luck in love. Her first marriage to personal trainer Markus Leithold ended after just eight months, and her second union wasn't much better. Hatcher and actor Jon Tenney met on a blind date, according to People, and married in 1994, then welcomed their daughter, Emerson, in 1997.

In March 2003, People confirmed that Hatcher had filed for divorce after nearly nine years of marriage, but as it turned out, the separation was a long time coming. Calling it an "empty marriage," Hatcher wrote in her memoir, Burnt Toast, that she was getting "away from a husband who I felt was never around anyway." Revealing that she felt like a "walking zombie," she told The Mirror, "I put myself through a lot of torture in struggling for so many years."

The actress also told Vanity Fair that their lack of intimacy was a major issue. So much so that they weren't intimate during their honeymoon, and she knows "exactly when Emerson was conceived, because we had sex once that year, on Valentine's Day." She added, "From the beginning, our marriage was probably more defined by friendship."

Her stint as a Bond Girl was tainted

Teri Hatcher had a great run starring in all four seasons of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and, right as the show went off the air in 1997, she snagged another impressive role — as that of a Bond Girl. Acting opposite Pierce Brosnan's James Bond, Hatcher was cast in Tomorrow Never Dies as Bond Girl Paris Carver. Unfortunately, the flick received a lukewarm reception from critics, and it turns out that filming was also less than extraordinary.

Speaking with Vanity Fair Italia (via The Telegraph), Brosnan admitted to an on-set feud with his leading lady. "I got very upset with her," he said, explaining, "She was always keeping me waiting for hours. I must admit I let slip a few words which weren't very nice." He later learned that the reason for her absences was morning sickness, but he wasn't all too fussed by the revelation. As he told the outlet, "It came out one morning that Teri was pregnant [with Emerson] and she hadn't been feeling very well. Still these things happen" (via People).

Hmm, considering some of Hatcher's former co-stars have been less than complimentary, perhaps their comments are part of the reason why the actress hasn't starred in anything too memorable since her popular Desperate Housewives days.

Teri Hatcher had a 'never-ending divorce'

When Teri Hatcher and Jon Tenney split in 2003, they agreed that their daughter, Emerson Rose, would live with Hatcher but that the duo would share custody. Even so, custody issues continued to plague them, and, in 2010, TMZ dubbed theirs a "never-ending divorce," noting the couple was back in court to decide who Emerson would spend the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with.

But what frustrated Hatcher most was that, under California divorce law, she had to split all of her marital assets with her ex. Getting candid in Burnt Toast, Hatcher slammed, "Worse than feeling like a failure ... there was an overwhelming sense of rage at having to pay my way out of the situation. What I thought were the best years of my life, the most lucrative years of my life, seemed over and I had nothing to show for them," she wrote, adding, "I had no marriage, a deeply diminished bank account, and no career." Revealing the root of her bitterness, Hatcher said she took issue with having "to give the husband I had supported while he'd gone and done whatever he'd wanted half of the money I'd spent my whole life earning." She justified, "I'd been doing the earning and the parenting so somehow it didn't feel fair."

Her big career break was tainted by controversy

Following years of bit parts and trying to make it big, Teri Hatcher finally landed the role of a lifetime when she was cast on Desperate Housewives in 2004. Rather than it being a joyous time in her life, however, there was a dark side to the Housewives cast. Rumors of on-set drama were abundant and, when the cast landed on the cover of Vanity Fair in 2005, editors were told to penalize Hatcher. According to TODAY, an ABC rep who accompanied the actresses to the shoot told Vanity Fair, "Whatever you do, do not let Teri go to wardrobe first." Hatcher was also not to be placed in the middle of the photo, which she was, leading to Marcia Cross allegedly storming off and Hatcher crying on the phone.

In 2012, show creator Marc Cherry confirmed that Nicollette Sheridan had once called Hatcher the "meanest woman in the world" and, that same year, Eva Longoria proclaimed that "Teri was just a loner." This would explain why Hatcher was left out of the group gift Eva Longoria, Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman, and Vanessa Williams gave crew members when the show wrapped after eight seasons. "The girls don't get along with Teri so they organized this and left her out," a production insider told Celebuzz.

All things considered, we're assuming a Desperate Housewives revival probably won't be in the works any time soon.

She once suffered from a mystery illness

In 2011, Hatcher told Extra that she had secretly been dealing with a little-known health issue that caused her great pain. "I've been struggling with this thing called frozen shoulder, which is a real condition which women get," she explained. "It's basically left me pretty much not functioning with my left arm." The pain was so bad that she wasn't even "able to pick up a bag." Treatment included cortisone shots and, as she told E! News, she was "considering surgery. It's a long haul through rehab and physical therapy, but I have a great attitude," she added, saying, "I believe things happen for a reason and this has really helped me get better at asking for help, defining priorities and enjoying all the things I can do."

According to the Mayo Clinic, there is no clear cause for frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis, but it is more common in women over 40 — which rang true for Hatcher. The condition is "characterized by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint [and] signs and symptoms typically begin gradually, worsen over time and then resolve, usually within one to three years."

She was accused of being 'the other woman'

In 2014, stand-up comedian Andrew Dice Clay penned a biography titled The Filthy Truth in which he detailed an alleged affair with Teri Hatcher. The pair met on the set of 1993's Brain Smasher... A Love Story, a poorly rated B-movie, and, according to Clay, shared an "instant attraction." Writing about their relationship in his book [via New York Daily News], the comedian said the pair engaged in phone sex, which led to him visiting the actress' hotel room one night. Although they didn't get physical, Clay alleged that Hatcher's "moans were delicious, and by the time it was over she was completely and absolutely satisfied."

Clay, who had married Kathleen "Trini" Monica in 1992, admitted to feeling guilty about the romance, but wrote that a few days later, when Hatcher visited his room, they kissed and "the lovemaking was out of this world." The pair made a vow never to speak again and, not long after, Clay found out his wife was pregnant. He and Monica ended up being married for a decade and have two sons together, according to Newsday.

She keeps getting her heart broken and blaming herself

Teri Hatcher's track record in love is, sadly, not a good one. In 2005, she told The Mirror that she hadn't been on a date in two years, admitting she was "scared" because "the possibility of someone breaking [her] heart is a risk." And when she finally did put herself out there, that's exactly what happened.

It was in her memoir, Burnt Toast, that the actress recounted her many dating failures, writing (via Daily Mail), "I never thought I'd be [over] 40 and have no one to go to dinner with, nor someone who loves me and whom I trust, but here I am." Listing off questionable bachelors, she highlighted the millionaire who was "already in a long-term relationship — with cocaine" and the lawyer who offered her "$50,000 to go to a convention with him, like an escort!" Yikes.

Worse than the disappointment, however, is the fact that Hatcher tends to blame herself. "I have so much pain," she told Vanity Fair. "This pain of feeling like it's your fault, and not knowing how to solve the problem ... that's a really familiar pattern to me in my life." She added, "There's this cycle of not being able to give yourself a break, of constantly finding an avenue to punish yourself."

In the end, Hatcher hopes her autobiography will inspire others. "I want to start treating myself better," she declared. "And I want you to start treating yourself better, too."