You Heard It Here: On The Nose

It’s the first of the month, so you know what THAT means… It’s time for another Hollywood Story. This is one of my better ones and if any of you have read Danger Zone, it may sound vaguely familiar, because a similar accident happened to Ellie.

In 1994, I was working on a sitcom pilot starring Corbin Bernsen. (Some of you may remember him from L.A. Law…?) Anyway, we were in the middle of shooting the show for the audience and the director asked me to sit in the audience to fill an empty chair. (The sitcom was about a talk show host so it was kind of a show within a show. The director used our show’s actual audience as the audience for the “talk show.”) The stage manager yelled, “Places,” so the cast scrambled to get to their spots. The sixteen year old actress playing Corbin’s daughter had been behind the bleachers (where the audience sits) so when she heard the stage manager yell, she ran to get to her spot on the stage. Now imagine ME running to get to my spot in the audience per the director’s orders. Well… you guessed it. We collided at the corner of the bleachers and she slammed me like a line backer. I caught her shoulder square in my nose. She rearranged my face so fast, I didn’t know what hit me. (Okay, actually, I knew SHE hit me! LOL.) Impact actually spun me around and I heard an audible gasp from the audience members who were seated in that section along the bleachers. I reached into my pocket for a tissue as I came to a halt in front of her.  I tipped my head forward because I knew I was bleeding, But not until my palms were filled with blood did I realize the extent.

BTW… Here’s a pic of the old nose. (Yes, this is me in the 80s. LOL.)


So, to continue… This poor girl is looking at me with the wide, terrified eyes of a teenager who knew she was in trouble. (Not so much for clobbering me, but because she shouldn’t have been behind the bleachers while we were shooting.) She ran for the craft service area which happened to be not too far behind me. She opened the freezer, took out the first frozen thing she saw and ran back to me. The next thing I knew, I had a bag of frozen chicken wings on my face. I kid you not.

To this day, I have never seen more suits come out of the woodwork. I’m sure the production company thought I was going to sue them. The executive producer’s wife happened to be an emergency room doctor and they called her from her seat in the audience to come check me out. She stood in front of me with a very bored look on her face and said, “Let me see it.” I removed the frozen chicken from my face and waited for her reaction. She didn’t bat an eye or move a muscle. “It’s broken,” she said. Then she turned around and went back to her seat. Nice.

I was causing quite a ruckus so they had to move me to continue shooting. (Yes, the show must go on!) I was escorted to the medic’s office while I waited for my husband to come pick me up. I was so proud of myself. I hadn’t shed any tears and just nodded knowingly as crew member after crew member snuck out of the stage and took turns visiting me as I waited — all wanting to get a peek at my new face. Every single one of them said the same thing. First, the look of horror on their face and then the, “Ooooh wooow. THAT is broken.” I could only nod. And no, I hadn’t looked at myself yet. I wasn’t brave enough.

My husband showed up about forty-five minutes later and took me across the street to the hospital. As we started along the path toward the hospital, I finally lost my composure. I burst out crying like a baby and of course started fresh bleeding all over again.

After four hours in the e.r., a doctor pronounced me with a broken nose. (Like I didn’t know it already. LOL.) I learned that there was nothing they could do at the moment. It took days to see a specialist and weeks until the actual surgery was scheduled to repair the damage. The worst part… I had my ten year high school reunion to go to. Ugh. (And, yes, I went with my giant broken nose.)

Eleven months after the surgery, I had so much scar tissue build up that I had to have a second surgery to remove the tissue blocking my nasal passage. After THAT surgery, I had no sense of smell.

So, after all that, I’ll bet you’re curious as to the name of the teenager who broke my nose. Brittany Murphy. I always thought I’d see her again, because Hollywood is a small town, but unfortunately she died several years ago at a very young age of 32. I still think about her and wonder if she ever knew what really happened that night. Once I was whisked off, I never saw the cast again. (I hate leaving things undone like that and not being able to say goodbye bothered me.)

What about you? Any fun broken bone stories? I’d love to hear them. (I have more, but none that are associated with Hollywood. <G>)



You Heard It Here: On The Nose — 16 Comments

  1. I’ve heard a lot of your stories Dee J. but I don’t think I knew this about you. That must have been a horrible experience. I hope they at least paid for the surgery.
    No broken bones here, but a lot of sprains, a torn ligament needing casting, a buggered up knee that needed arthroscopy…that’s about it, other than a skiing accident where I set up a lifelong weakness in one shoulder. I know. I’m a klutz. : )

    • Hi Robena,
      It wasnt fun, I can say that. But Disney did end up paying for both nose jobs. Ugh. I’ve said I won’t do any cosmetic surgery ever again. The second surgery was brutal. I’ve had my share of sprains and torn ligaments as well. Part of life, I think!

  2. I’ve broken my nose at least three times, enough that it bears no resemblance to the one I had growing up. I never had surgery to repair it — probably not the best plan — but none of the times were celebrity-assisted.

    I’ve broken a lot of bones, but looking back, none of them were particularly good stories… just your standard getting-punched-in-the-face sort of thing (I used to fight semi-professionally). Certainly no one who’s ever broken something of mine went on to be a superstar! Your broken nose story pretty much trumps all of mine. 🙂

    • Hi Shawn,
      I couldn’t imagine getting into a ring. And ouch on the three broken noses! That stinks (yes, that pun was intended. ). I have some other great stories but they aren’t Hollywood related. I’ll have to figure out how to get them here on the blog. LOL.

  3. Wow – that’s quite a story! I always assumed it was Roseanne Barr who broke your nose. LOL.
    Kind of bittersweet to realize it was Brittany Murphy.

    Anyhoo – on the first El Nino in early 1990s my husband decided to get up on the garage roof to make sure our drains weren’t clogged. As he came down, the ladder slipped, he went swinging to the left and landed from about eight feet up hard on his right shoulder. Broke that sucker to smithereens.

    Now, since I’m a nurse (or was at that time) you’d think I’d know how to handle this situation. Yes, professionally maybe, but when it came to my own family, I freaked out like everyone else. All I could think about was – I can’t let Bill lay in the rain! and How am I going to get him to the ER?
    My ten year old son calmly said: “Mom, call 911.”


    • Hi Lynne,
      I have some GREAT Roseanne stories, but they will have to wait.
      Your poor hubby! What a fall. Good thing your son remembered those 3 lovely numbers! And I’ll admit I was really sad when Brittany died. She was a very sweet 16 year old.

  4. Ah, poor Dee! The good news is, your nose is once again beautiful, and you have a great story about the dangers of Hollywood!

    I broke my nose in college when I smacked, face-first, into a sliding glass door, (jello shots might have been involved). A friend offered some…uh…non-prescription herbal remedy, which meant within minutes I hardly felt my entire head, let alone my nose. The next morning, however, my schnozz had swollen up to the size of a shoe. I had surgery after graduation, (yes, I did graduate, believe it or not), to put my septum pretty much back where it started.

    I learned my lesson. No more sliding glass doors for me!

    • Hi Sam,
      Ugh! My dad went through a glass window at a car dealership. Not fun. Of course my experience was like running into a brick wall. I’ve had to get used to the new me. I look at the old me and it seems like a different person. I’d love to know what was in your pal’s “herbal” remedy. LOL. Doesn’t sound especially herbal if you know what I mean. Haha.

  5. Wow – now that’s a story! I’ve had a ton of surgeries, but none of them due to accidents (all were planned in advance), and so far, no broken bones (knock on wood). I manages to sprain both ankles in the middle of a performance last summer, though (well, one sprained and the other just strained). I was doing a series of lifts in the middle of a huge tap dance number. Strained the first ankle coming out of partner lift #1, and sprained the second coming out of partner lift #3. That one sent me to the floor, with a big gasp from the audience. We performed 3 days a week for 6 weeks, and we hired a videographer to record one of the 18 performances… can you guess which performance ended up on film? Yep.

    • Hi Laura,
      Oh man, isn’t that the way it always goes! So sorry, but I’m sure your fall was poetry in motion. LOL. I wish you no breaks or future sprains/strains! As far as my experience…I learned a long time ago not to run on the set!

  6. What a great story! I’m sorry about what happened to your nose, and I’m even sorrier about Brittany Murphy. One of my all-time favorite movies is “Clueless”; she is adorable in that. Gone way too young.


    • Hi Jana,
      Yes, she was adorable and definitely gone way too young. She was a sweet kid. My nose and I will never forget her. Thanks for dropping in!

  7. I got my thumb stuck in a car door one time but no big broken bones. I did break the sesamoid bone on my right foot oddly for such a small bone that was painful. Of course not as painful as the cortisone shot – ugh! I may never do that again. It would require severe paid – sleepless pain – endless days of that and then maybe.

    Sorry to hear that you can’t smell anything any more. Doesn’t sound like any kind of fun at all. I loved Brittany Murphy. She was in a movie one time where she was laying down on a bathroom floor singing. Not that great a movie, but a great scene and the song was Nobody Does It Better.

    • Hi Maria,
      Ouch on the thumb in the car door. I did that with two of my fingers too, but I broke mine. Ugh is right! Sometimes the lack of smell can be a good thing. I can vaguely smell something if it’s REALLY bad, but it has to be really bad. The sad part is not smelling the good things. Yeah, Brittany had her own kind of quirky going for her even at sixteen. Thanks for stopping in!

  8. Not quite as interesting, but I was hurrying to pick up my youngest at school when I tripped (on air, apparently, since the sidewalk was totally smooth and flat) and smacked my face into the concrete stair. It was a bit off head-turner when I walked into the crowded foyer, gushing blood, asking if I could borrow the nurses station for a minute.

    As soon as my oldest got home I drove myself to the hospital. Didn’t need surgery, but did take the kids to the Harry Potter exhibit two days later, looking like someone had smacked me around really good. 🙂

    • Hi Kate,
      Oh man! What a drag. At least the bright side was you didn’t need surgery. After my initial accident and two surgeries, I definitely knew what it felt like to be “knocked around!” It’s not fun. Thanks for coming by!