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Madeleine Stowe


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Early life

Stowe, the eldest of three sisters, was born Madeline Mora Stowe[1][2] in Eagle Rock, a working class suburb of Los Angeles, California. Her mother, Mireya (née Mora), immigrated from Costa Rica and came from a prominent family, and her father, Robert Stowe, a civil engineer, was a native of Oregon.[2][3][4] Stowe's father suffered from multiple sclerosis.[5]

At the age of ten, Stowe began taking piano lessons with the aim of becoming a concert pianist — and also as a way of not having to socialize with other kids. Her Russian-born music teacher Sergei Tarnowsky (he taught Vladimir Horowitz before immigrating to the US), had faith in her, teaching her from his deathbed. But when he died at the age of 96, she quit ("I just felt it was time to not be by myself anymore") — and at 18 she went on her first date.[6] She then studied cinema and journalism at the University of Southern California. Not overly interested in her classes, Stowe volunteered to do performances at the Solaris, a Beverly Hills theater, where a movie agent saw her in a play, and subsequently got her several offers of appearances in TV and films.

[edit] Career

For nearly fifteen years Stowe appeared mostly in minor or supporting roles in movies and on TV. A few of her performances from this period became, however, well-known to the public, as was the case for Stakeout (1987), where she played opposite Richard Dreyfuss, and Revenge, (1990), which co-starred Kevin Costner. In 1992 Stowe finally landed a leading role in a high-profile film, The Last of the Mohicans, which also starred Daniel Day-Lewis.

Thereafter, several major film roles followed. The next year, director Robert Altman cast Stowe in Short Cuts, in which she gave one of her most acclaimed screen performances as the wife of a compulsive lying and adulterous police officer played by Tim Robbins. The following year, Madeleine was a blind musician in the thriller Blink, co-starring Aidan Quinn (14 years earlier, she had a guest role as a blind painter in Little House on the Prairie).[7] The year after that, she was a sympathetic psychiatrist in the science-fiction movie Twelve Monkeys. Stowe postponed her acting career in 1996 in order to concentrate on motherhood. In 1998 she came back with The Proposition. She most recently appeared in the Jeff Goldblum Detective Drama Raines on NBC for the 2007 mid-season replacement. The series was canceled two months later.

[edit] Personal life

Stowe has been married to actor Brian Benben since 1982, after meeting when they acted in a TV film the previous year. The couple have a daughter, May (born 1996), and spend spare time on the ranch they own in Texas.

In December 2007, she endorsed and campaigned for John Edwards in the U.S. presidential election, 2008.[8]


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Madeleine Stowe Finds Faith Moving Dead Bodies in Haiti

We're nearing the end of our trip and we head for Fr. Rick's and the St. Luke team's weekly visit to the General Hospital morgue.

We pull up and Fr. Rick, beside me, bows his head and clenches his eyes tightly in anticipation for a job he will never be used to. We're about to pull out as many bodies from the morgue's lockers as we can possibly carry in three trucks. It's a devotion the team performs because of their belief in all human dignity – where the dead are lost or forgotten with no one to claim them, Rick and his men retrieve their broken bodies and give them a proper burial.

I've joined the team before in this ritual. There's the narrow, gray hall with the overwhelming smell of death. It's inescapable and I have to physically grasp my legs to keep them from giving out.

Raphael and Conan open the first locker, bodies spill across the room, their limbs in all directions, resting atop one another. Each man and woman, some with IVs still in their veins, has a story we'll never know.

The babies are the toughest to take in. They rest there, unclaimed, no one to give them passage to the next world.

The men, hands gloved, begin singing a vivid Creole spiritual from deep in their lungs. And to combat the odor of decay, they light cigarettes and pour rum from a bottle into their mouths. Fr. Rick takes a drag. There's no other way to stay in these rooms without passing out. I abstain and hang on.

For two hours we work away, lifting bodies, placing them in clean linen, a new rosary on each chest, then zip their bags. The men beat a rhythm on the walls, singing, willing the dead to be lifted from this earth and sent to a better place. For incomprehensible reasons, I don't want our work to end.

There are two more lockers and it seems wrong to stop before each body is pulled away to safety. I think we've been there 20 minutes when, in fact, it's two hours. The final body, a man, muscular even in death, frozen in time, is dragged from this fearsome in-between place. Rick bends over his body, gives a blessing. We cover his graceful figure and slide him away. Hand to hand, he's lifted and placed onto the truck with the others.

In 15 short minutes, Sanford and I, unable to speak change our clothes and go to the living. There are 800 children at the Academy of Peace and Justice (the country's first free high school) and it's final exam time in the sparkling new building. We wait to see their faces, joyful and new, all in uniforms.

The clock strikes 11 and they pour out of their classrooms, triumphant and giddy. It's the end of the first semester in a rare free secondary school. I'm acutely aware that life and death and life, again, exist within seconds of each other and that, right here in this compound and outside its gates, all things converge. Events flood and merge, then separate. We walk through this sea of glorious faces – alive, flourishing and safe. They are the new day.

During the evening, Sanford, Mudcat and I go upstairs to the hospital wing where malnourished babies are treated. An infant boy lays in his crib, unconscious, his arms stretched rigid and wide, his breathing labored. I can't pick him up, so I place my hand on his little chest. I feel his bones and skin so fragile, as if he would dissolve into ash under my fingertips. He fights for each breath and all I can do is hope he feels a warm hand receiving each gasp.

Another baby cries and coughs, and I ask the Haitian nurse if I can pick her up. She smiles sweetly and allows me this moment. The little girl sputters then starts, releases a small cry, then gradually calms. I carry her to the window so she can look outside. There's a world out there, vibrant and waiting. I have hope she'll know it in time.

It's well past midnight and we're finally in bed. From my room, I hear Mudcat and Sanford chatting. The Virginian is wired. I somehow fall asleep, then awaken at 3 a.m. Mudcat has gotten up and goes outside. In the morning, I ask Mudcat if he awoke to smoke a cigarette? He shakes his head, starts to tell me he went to look up at the stars, then confesses, of the organization that cares for 900,000 people, "This place is a miracle. Tell me I'm crazy, but all the money in the world couldn't have created anything like this. There's power here that I've never felt anywhere else."

I don't know about things like God, but I've seen faith at work in surprising ways. That maybe we see the intangible by being with one another and reaching out to needful strangers, and by taking their strong hands. They rid us of our own aloneness and they give us much in return. I think of the dead in the morgue and of the living all around us and how they're woven together.

And to this, Fr. Rick writes me:

"The light radiated

by this mystery is subtle

but you know it

the bonds of the invisible world are very

deep and very mysterious

you are already bonded

to the people in the morgue in a real way

and you are giving them strength

and they are pointing

to a deep reality and keeping you focused on it

that margins and exclusion

and loneliness produce hell

and friendship and solidarity produce heaven

even in the most unbearable circumstance

this is heaven

you know it already

and heaven is just

God's light"

I'll always come back.

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