- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Molly Ringwald said she was repeatedly sexually harassed and molested as a young Hollywood actress, detailing some of those encounters in an essay response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Ms. Ringwald, who started her acting career by appearing on “Diff’rent Strokes” and “The Facts of Life” at the age of 11, wrote a piece for The New Yorker titled, “All the other Harvey Weinsteins,” in which she revealed she was never accosted by Mr. Weinstein himself, but encountered many men in the industry who exhibited the same alleged behavior.

“While my own Harvey story may be different, I have had plenty of Harveys of my own over the years, enough to feel a sickening shock of recognition,” she wrote. “When I was thirteen, a fifty-year-old crew member told me that he would teach me to dance, and then proceeded to push against me with an erection.

“When I was fourteen, a married film director stuck his tongue in my mouth on set,” she continued. “At a time when I was trying to figure out what it meant to become a sexually viable young woman, at every turn some older guy tried to help speed up the process. And all this went on despite my having very protective parents who did their best to shield me. I shudder to think of what would have happened had I not had them.”

Ms. Ringwald, now 49, wrote that when she was in her 20s, a director blindsided her during an audition by telling her to allow the lead actor to put a dog collar around her neck.

“This was not remotely in the pages I had studied; I could not even fathom how it made sense in the story,” Ms. Ringwald said. “The actor was a friend of mine, and I looked in his eyes with panic. He looked back at me with an ‘I’m really sorry’ expression on his face as his hands reached out toward my neck. I don’t know if the collar ever made it on me, because that’s the closest I’ve had to an out-of-body experience.

“I’d like to think that I just walked out, but, more than likely, there’s an old VHS tape, disintegrating in a drawer somewhere, of me trying to remember lines with a dog collar around my neck in front of a young man I once had a crush on,” she added. “I sobbed in the parking lot and, when I got home and called my agent to tell him what happened, he laughed and said, ‘Well, I guess that’s one for the memoirs. …’ I fired him and moved to Paris not long after.”

Ms. Ringwald also wrote about an explicit comment reportedly made in 1995 by film studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg.

“The head of a major studio — and, incidentally, someone who claims himself to be horrified by the Harvey allegations — was quoted as saying, ‘I wouldn’t know [Molly Ringwald] if she sat on my face,’” she said of an old Movieline article, which included the reported quote from Mr. Katzenberg.

“I was twenty-four at the time. Maybe he was misquoted. If he ever sent a note of apology, it must have gotten lost in the mail,” Ms. Ringwald added.

Mr. Katzenberg, a former CEO of DreamWorks, denied making the comment in a statement Tuesday to The Hollywood Reporter.

“That Molly Ringwald had to read those words attributed to me and believe I said them is horrifying, mortifying and embarrassing to me,” he said. “Anyone who knows me now or back then knows I do not use language like that as a matter of course, or tolerate it. Ms. Ringwald, 22 years too late, I am deeply, deeply sorry.”

Ms. Ringwald said she never spoke about these instances before because “stories like these have never been taken seriously.”

“I could go on about other instances in which I have felt demeaned or exploited, but I fear it would get very repetitive. Then again, that’s part of the point. I never talked about these things publicly because, as a woman, it has always felt like I may as well have been talking about the weather,” she wrote. “Women are shamed, told they are uptight, nasty, bitter, can’t take a joke, are too sensitive. And the men? Well, if they’re lucky, they might get elected President.

“My hope is that Hollywood makes itself an example and decides to enact real change, change that would allow women of all ages and ethnicities the freedom to tell their stories—to write them and direct them and trust that people care. I hope that young women will one day no longer feel that they have to work twice as hard for less money and recognition, backward and in heels. It’s time. Women have resounded their cri de coeur. Listen,” Ms. Ringwald concluded.

An initial report by The New York Times revealed that Mr. Weinstein had settled several sexual harassment lawsuits with multiple women, including actress Ashley Judd. The report has opened the floodgates in Hollywood, with more than 40 women coming forward to accuse the Hollywood mogul of sexual harassment, assault and rape.

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