Helen Reddy, the Australian-born singer known worldwide for her hit song “I Am Woman” making her a feminist anthem and the subject of the biopic of the same title, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles. She was 78.
The death was confirmed by her children in a message posted on her official fan page on Facebook.
Statement from Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Helen Reddy, on the afternoon of September 29th 2020 in Los Angeles. She was a wonderful Mother, Grandmother and a truly formidable woman. Our hearts are broken. But we take comfort in the knowledge that her voice will live on forever.
In 2019, she was the subject of I Am Woman, a biopic directed by Unjoo Moon (The Zen of Bennett) and starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey ( Hotel Mumbai), that chronicles Reddy’s remarkable rise to fame. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and later screened at AFI Fest.
It’s 1966, and 24-year-old Helen (Cobham-Hervey) travels from her native Melbourne to New York City in search of stardom. But she discovers that the uniformly male gatekeepers to the record industry don’t take her seriously, look down on her single motherhood, and seem to believe that female-driven acts have scant chance in the Beatles-mad pop market. Fortunately, Helen finds an encouraging friend in fellow Australian Lillian Roxon (Danielle Macdonald), a journalist who’s made some headway into her own male-dominated field.
Everything changes when the fiercely ambitious Jeff Wald (Evan Peters) sweeps Helen off her feet and rapidly becomes both her husband and her manager. Jeff’s dogged insistence ensures that Helen’s golden voice gets heard. The family relocates to California, that coveted recording contract finally arrives, and Helen soon has a string of hit records. But fame and fortune come with new pitfalls. And how long is Jeff willing to play the role of Helen Reddy’s husband?
Reddy crossed over to movies, making her big-screen debut in the disaster movie “Airport 1975” (released in 1974) as a guitar-playing nun who comforts a sick little girl (Linda Blair) on an almost certainly doomed 747. That was followed by a starring role in the Disney movie “Pete’s Dragon” (1977), as a skeptical New England lighthouse keeper who doubts an orphaned boy’s stories about his animated fire-breathing pet.
Survivors include her two children, Traci Wald Donat, a daughter from her first marriage, Jordan Sommers, a son from her second, her half sister, Toni Lamond, an Australian singer-actress, and one grandchild.