See Jane. See Jane play. See Jane rock an oversexed cougar, a
pioneer doctor and a lamé-clad Bond girl.
When it comes to iconic actress Jane
Seymour, born Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg, anything
and everything she takes on never fails to make an impression.
Though my own little hooligans managed to crash our
conversation, the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning mother of six
(stepchildren Kalen Keach, Jenni Flynn; children Katie Flynn, Sean
Flynn, and twins Johnny Keach and Kris Keach), laughed it off in
polite English style (thank goodness), while sharing an amazing
inside look into her life as the ultimate super mom.
Film, painting, writing, design, philanthropy: you
really manage to do it all. Is there anything you can't
I'm sure there's plenty of things I can't do. There's things I
won't do, like bungee jump, sky dive or things like
But you're so adventurous!
Maybe so, but I don't do anything with heights.
Was choosing a stage name an adventurous
Well, in the million years ago when I was first starting out in
the days of the dinosaur, it was a tradition to change your name.
Everyone had a stage name and a regular name. You would never have
been allowed to call yourself Renee Zellweger. It just would never
My agent told me that my name was too long, too difficult to
spell, and too foreign. I kept the initial 'J' - Jane, J, plain
Jane, whatever, it was a good starting point. Then, somebody came
up with Seymour and it's very English, very easy to spell, easy to
remember. We couldn't remember why it was so easy to remember, and
then we realized it was the obscure wife of Henry VIII that no one
ever remembered, until of course, they started making hot movies
about him. And then, everyone remembered Jane Seymour, though she
was actually probably the most boring one since she died in
childbirth and was quite plain.
So anyway, I got the name, and when I went out to auditions and
things people would say, 'Oh yes, I think I've seen you in
something,' or 'I've heard of you - maybe I met you at a party.'
And I realized after a while that it worked. I've always published
my real name as well. I'm very proud of my family heritage.
I have to ask. Do you have any connections to Henry
I do actually. Until recently, I owned a home that was owned by
Henry who gave it to his illegitimate daughter, Ethelreda, way,
way, way, way back. The house dates to 950, so its most illustrious
past is that the illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII owned it.
Do you go back to England often?
Yes we do. Quite often. I love going there.
Henry VIII held his wife, Jane Seymour, in high regard
as a positive, virtuous example for women in court. Do you see
Dr. Quinn as a role model for
Absolutely. The point of the series was that there was always a
dilemma, and there would always be someone who would say, 'no, no,
that's wrong' or 'that's bad,' or someone would do something bad,
and Dr. Quinn wasn't always right. She usually, more often than
not, had to come around to understanding how to deal with
something. And that's what life is all about.
I think that the idea that the family always sat down for meals
together and always talked about things… the family wasn't
necessarily a genetic family… every issue that any family would
have to deal with or that we deal with today, everything from
pollution from the gold mines, which of course is still happening,
to choices in terms of medical care to have your breasts removed
when you had cancer, and the rights of the patient and the idea of
evangelical medicine, and all of the different religions and
people's biases and feelings about people who are different, and
whether or not people should burn books, I mean my gosh, we dealt
with everything! We even covered whether or not one can trust a
small boy with a gay man.
The brilliant thing about it, I don't think I even realized it
at the time, but now in retrospect is that pretty much any subject
that you'd ever want to discuss with your family or with yourself
is broached at some point on Dr. Quinn. It's always been
positively provocative for the family to talk about, 'Well, what
would you do?' or 'What do you think about what Dr. Quinn did, was
she right or wrong?'
Do you feel that the character reflected your
Oh yes, very much so. I consider myself spiritual, but I'm not
specific to any one religion. I'm very open minded to other
people's different beliefs. I'm a doctor's daughter. I had a
microscope at seven and was watching surgery at ten, and my
father's passion was the history of medicine, so I used to go to
the museum for doctors, the museum of the history of medicine when
I was an adult with my father. So to be using all those old
instruments… and I insisted on the Smithsonian giving us the
information we needed to make sure the episodes were accurate and
that the medicine was accurate and the surgery was accurate. We
went to unbelievable lengths to make sure that it was correct.
And then of course, when I got married to my now ex-husband, he
already had a daughter and we had two children together so the
whole idea of being a mother without actually having given birth to
a child was sort of actual.
Dr. Quinn came to believe in the power of Native
American medicines during the series. Are you a proponent of
alternative remedies as well?
Yes. I'm a believer in complimentary medicine. I believe in the
combination of the two. Really, Western medicine has made huge,
extraordinary advances in things that are amazing. But there are
things, for example, well even ten, fifteen years ago when I was
doing Dr. Quinn, I would talk about arnica and people
would go, 'Oh no, that doesn't work.' Well now, if you have any
surgery at all nowadays, they suggest you take arnica beforehand,
during and after. That's homeopathic, and every scientist
pooh-poohed it, but now, all the doctors are using it.
The same with zinc. It's what you would use if you had a sore
throat or one coming on, and now of course, the major
pharmaceutical companies are producing medicines that contain zinc.
Western medicine has caught up with some of the naturopathic and
homeopathic remedies. And I think that a combination of the two is
the ultimate way to go, and the biggest part is listening to your
You worked on Dr. Quinn while pregnant with your twin
boys. What advice would you give to mothers who are also working
It was very hard, because I had a pregnancy later in life and I
had already miscarried a few times, so I was a very, very delicate
and closely monitored pregnant woman.
I wrote a book about it, Two At A Time: Having Twins - The
Journey Through Pregnancy and Birth. It's such a big issue.
After I had the twins, they published photographs of me because I
won the Golden Globes for Best Actress about three weeks after I'd
had the twins, and I was wearing this slinky gown and everyone
gasped when I came up on the stage because they couldn't believe
how skinny I was. The truth was that I'd nearly died having them. I
didn't want people thinking that they should lose as much weight as
possible while they were pregnant so they could be thin afterward.
I just wanted people to know that it's something that happens when
you have preeclampsia, and I had a close call there.
It's hard being pregnant anyway, but it's a lot easier when
you're younger. It's hard to be pregnant with twins and be working
outdoors and wearing a lot of clothes and pretending you're not
pregnant. It was really tough. As I look back on it, I don't know
how I did it!
You've recently taken up another comedic role… this time
on the web in Quitters on Atom.com. Tell
me more about that.
The fun thing about Quitters is that I've never done a
web series before, and that's very much what the kids and
everyone's looking into. Comedy Central owns Atom.com, so
a lot of people are now coming up with a lot of ideas for the
series, and doing them as web series, and then depending on how
well they do, seeing if there's something there to continue - do
more of them or continue them in a different format.
Quitters was actually written by my daughter, Katie
Flynn, who's one of the stars. So it's written by the two girls,
Crystal and Katie, and Katie is my daughter in real life and she
wrote this and handed it to me and said, 'Mom would you play my
mother? You're not really like that, but can you please try?'
I was so proud of her. I thought it was very funny. And so, I
had a lot of fun doing it. It didn't take a lot of my time, and
now, because of that show, she's going to star in the next
[Dear] Prudence movie.
That's what Joe [Lando] told me during our conversation
last week. He also told me to tell you that he had nothing but
terrible things to say about you.
Sounds like something he would say!
It's really all quite exciting. So the success of
Quitters was that Hallmark saw her and they just said, 'Oh
yes, let's write a lead role for her,' and before that she just
starred in a major film in England.
Katie is just lovely and looks just like
She's a very good actress, and her time seems to be happening
right now. She's done a whole lot of commercials and some
independent movies. She's going to be doing more mainstream - she's
going to be doing a Jeff Bridges movie after [Dear]
So she's really up and coming!
It's all just happening. That's why I think it's fun for people
to watch Quitters; because they can see Katie before it
I would think that there's no one better than you and
James [Keach] to give her advice.
You know what? They did it all by themselves. We helped with
some of the financing to make it, but [the girls] made it for next
to nothing. We did it very quickly, and shot it in her home. So
people really are seeing where they're living. It's their actual
bedrooms, their actual living room.
It sounds like I should definitely tune into more
The second one is the funniest, but a lot of people think the
third one is the funniest, too. Definitely watch the other two. The
second one is hysterical. The third one is actually the last one we
shot. We did the first and third first for reasons I have yet to
understand, but a lot of people want more. They really love it.
I'm determined that if we get to do more, Katie and I will have
to rope Joe [Lando] into it, too. We'll rope everyone we can into
it, especially the Dr. Quinn people. We might even get
William [Shockley] into it or something.
A mini Dr. Quinn reunion in a parallel
What can you tell me about Dear
Well, Dear Prudence is really funny. I don't know how
much Joe [Lando] told you about it, but it's for Hallmark and he
plays my ex lover, and Katie plays my daughter. I don't want to
give the whole story away… and actually James Keach, my husband,
has a small role at the end.
How did you end up with Joe Lando again?
They loved Joe and they thought he'd be perfect for the role of
a guy who used to be in love with me.
I think I know where they might have gotten that idea.
And you're going to be filming in Michigan?
We're going to film in Michigan. We're going to film really
fast. So we're going to rehearse it quite well here, then go up
there and make it and it'll be really fun. We're going to have a
Tell me more about your charitable
We started the Open Hearts Foundation. We're going to have our
first big event in November, raising money for the foundation that
will benefit children's charities.
You're involved in quite a number of
Yes, I am. But one of the ones that will definitely be on the
list will be St. Jude's, and then the other charities will be ones
that deal with arts programming and sports for kids who are having
them cut out of schools. It's really been proven that it helps kids
Other than that, one of my sons is recording, and is probably
going to be a famous rock and roller. His name is Johnny, he's
Johnny Cash's godson, Johnny Keach, and his group is called PT5.
Originally that came from 'plead the fifth.'
You have a very talented family!
He writes and plays and sings extraordinarily great music, and
the people that know about this stuff have told us that he's the
real deal. They're going to start playing all over the place, so
that's going to be really exciting.
And there's one more thing we hadn't touched upon.
You're so busy! I'm not sure I can wrap my head around
how you balance it all.
Yes, I am a little bit busy you could say. I also have a book
coming out in October called Among Angels. It's on
pre-order on Amazon.com and reviews are already coming up on the
My husband gifted me with your Open
Hearts book when our daughter was born. Will
your new book have a similar format?
This is just like it, but different in that it's about how if
you're heart is closed, you would not know or receive the benefit
of the angels among us. And angels are basically any one of us that
helps someone else.
It's got personal prose, personal stories, and stories from
people I know, and some really beautiful prose and poetry that I've
found that fit it. Quotes, too, and my artwork. So it's similar to
the little red book, but in some ways, I think it's even
You really give everyone great things to look forward
to, especially with your latest book.
Kay Jewelers will have it in time for Christmas. It's the
perfect gift if you buy a piece of jewelry.
Yes, then you can get the book at the same time instead of a
silly greetings card, and you can give somebody something that's
Catch all five seasons of the critically acclaimed
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman series on GMC, airing continuously on
weeknights through Labor Day weekend when the sixth season will
premiere. The episodes will air in order of original
broadcast, which marks the first time in over a decade that viewers
will be able to view every season in order.
Convonista says: Jane and I had a lovely conversation in
August of this year (this interview was originally released that
same month), and then again in October, when I visited the
Perfectly Prudence (formerly called Dear Prudence) set near Grand
Rapids, MI. Stay tuned for another interview with Jane in
Maria Pilar Clark is a mom times two and Windy City-based writer.
See more of Pilar's stories here.
Let us plan your weekend with the best family events and activities in Chicagoland.
Start the week right with deals, prizes, parent life hacks and more delivered straight to your inbox.
Need last-minute ideas for a weekend of family fun? No worries. We've got you.
Get the inside scoop on the people, places and things we are loving right now.
Resources, tips, inspiration and more for parents of children with special needs.
Score exclusive offers from our fabulous advertisers.