Richard Dreyfuss: “The Little Girl Never Left”

Oscar-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss was a full-blown addict – alcohol, pills, cocaine – he was doing it all. One night in early November 1982 he crashed his Mercedes convertible and ended up in the hospital. When he woke up, he said his first call was to his drug dealer who arrived at the hospital shortly after:

As we were talking in the private room I began to be aware of an image in my mind, an image of a little girl. I couldn’t shake this image. I didn’t know who she was. She was about eight years old. That’s all I knew about her.

So the next day I woke up in the same room and I had the same little girl sitting there waiting for me, and this time I could see her a little bit more clearly and she was wearing horn-rimmed glasses and she had a pink-and-white dress on, and no matter what I said or thought about during that day she was there. . . .

Dreyfuss was released from the hospital and arraigned on charges of DUI and drug possession, but his denial continued.

I tried to really drown myself in drugs and alcohol and behavior as much as I could. . . . That’s all I did for ten days. . . . And the little girl never left. Every day she was there, and every day I knew a little more about her. First she was eight, then she was eight with glasses, then she was eight in a pink-and-white dress, then she was dressed in a pink-and-white dress with a crinoline and patent leather shoes, and I’m still thinking to myself there is no girl in my life. . . . I wasn’t married, had no kids. . . . I knew that little girl very simply was either the little girl that I didn’t kill that night I completely lost control of my car, or she was . . . . the daughter I hadn’t had yet. I knew that as a certain fact. And the moment I figured out who she was, she disappeared.

I went home that night and ritualistically poured everything out, and I went the next night to my first serious recovery meeting. . . .

I sobered up on November 19, 1982. My daughter was born November 19, 1983. My daughter wears horn-rimmed glasses. She wouldn’t be caught dead in a pink dress, but it was my daughter, and the older she gets the more I see it.

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