After marrying Phillip Smith, Actress Jeri Fields, took a break from her career to focus on her family.
“I knew that marrying Phillip would change everything in my life, but I wasn’t worried about it. I’d always wanted to get married and have a real family…a normal family. I knew that might hurt my career, but I didn’t care.”
Jeri’s wedding was a lavish affair held at the Twinbrook Gazebo overlooking the river. There were quite a few guests, but most were family.
The occasion wasn’t simply a wedding between Jeri and Phillip. They shared a joint ceremony with Hannah Fields and Roger Long.
“It was exactly the way I wanted it. I didn’t mind sharing my day with Hannah. She was my cousin and my best friend. How could we not get married on the same day if both of us were engaged?!”
“Besides, it would have been silly for our aunts and other relatives to come to two separate parties. This way they could congratulate us both.”
After the ceremony, there was a reception dinner followed by dancing.
Jeri’s son, Aaron, joined the wedding party at the head of the table and later danced with his mom.
“I couldn’t leave Aaron out of the ceremony. He stood up with me and gave me away along side Daddy.
I knew Aaron was pleased that Phillip would be his new step-dad. He and Phillip were good friends.”
The party lasted through the night. Hannah and Roger and Jeri and Phillip danced and mingled amongst their guests.
Mickey spent most of his evening at the wet bar, but he didn’t let himself get so drunk that he ruined his daughter’s wedding.
“I wish that Daddy hadn’t hired the mixologist, but he kept it together. He was actually really loving the whole time. He hugged me and told me that I made him proud.”
Unfortunately, the wedding was not without incident.
“I knew with my fame, Daddy’s and even Uncle Danny’s fame as an athlete, we wouldn’t be able to avoid having paparazzi show up at the reception. I did manage to get them to respect our privacy for the ceremony, though.”
Phillip was not as forgiving of the paparazzi as his new bride, however.
“We were sharing an intimate moment on the beach alone when the flash of the camera interrupted us.
‘Can’t those vultures leave us alone for even one night? It’s our wedding night, damn it!’ he said and then stormed off to rip the camera out of the reporter’s hand.
There was a scuffle because the reporter wanted to keep the film he’d shot, but Philip grabbed the camera and threw it on the sand and stomped it until it broke.”
Jeri pulled her husband away from the paparazzi, but it was too late.
“Phillip and I had a disagreement on our wedding night. It was not how I wanted the evening to end.”
“Of course Philip was sorry afterwards. When we got home, he made it up to me.”
But the reporters had a field day bashing Jeri’s new husband. Philip was called a hot-head, and there was speculation that he forced Jeri to become a recluse.
“Those rumors were just silly! I didn’t become a recluse. I got pregnant! That’s what happens between husbands and wives!”
Contrary to what was reported in the media, Jeri and Phillip had a happy marriage. He was thrilled that she’d gotten pregnant so soon.
“We were both so happy. I wanted more kids. I actually wanted a very large family.”
Jeri was very domestic while she was pregnant.
“I was a total June Cleaver! I made dinner for my men, I did laundry, I cleaned house. It was very 1950’s. But what people didn’t realize was that I was also writing.”
In fact, Jeri had ambitions to write her own screenplay.
“Being on maternity leave is pretty boring. I had to do something. So I started to write. At first, most of what I wrote was garbage. But then I got this idea for a movie. I didn’t consciously think about writing a part for myself at the time, but it would be a lie to say that I didn’t eventually think that. I’d need to get back into acting when my children were older. Parts for women are scarce.”
But Jeri’s screenplay was put on the backburner when she finally went into labor and delivered her twin daughters, Glenna and Candice Fields.
“Phillip was so sweet. He didn’t panic at all and was so eager to become a dad. We were both thrilled to have twins. Philip was even happy to have had girls. I was the one who had wanted a boy!”
The girls, identical twins, grew quickly.
“There were subtle differences in the girls. I could always tell them apart, but most people had to rely on the color of their hair ribbons to determine which was which. Candice had aqua ribbons and Glenna’s were spiceberry.”
“Boy did the girls get spoiled! Glenna was Daddy’s little girl and Candice was doted on by Mickey. He called her ‘Grampy’s little sweetheart’ and spoiled her rotten.”
Aaron Fields was not neglected, though that was often a rumor spread by the paparazzi. He was a loner by nature, so he liked spending time by himself.
“Aaron didn’t get out much. The paparazzi thought that we were keeping him in the house, but really he just liked being alone. He read a lot. But he was also a loving brother, playing with both of his little sisters whenever he could.
And we all spent time with him. His favorite activity was chess. Even I learned how to play. Philip taught me and the three of us would spend time together, and both of them would give me pointers.”
“I don’t know why the press thought that my son was being held hostage or something like that. He went to school like normal kids. In fact, he did quite well at school, getting on the honor roll and making quite a few friends. He wasn’t shy, but he liked spending time alone. Still, he had friends he spent time with.
The paparazzi liked to make out that he was being abused, but his life was as normal as I could make it.”
When Candice and Glenna were still toddlers, Jeri became pregnant again.
“I was so excited! I had always felt bad that Aaron was practically an only child growing up. I wanted him to have a lot of sisters and brothers.”
This time Jeri and Philip became the proud parents of a little boy they named Benjamin.
“I loved my daughters, but I was ecstatic to have another son. I know that Philip was pretty excited, too. He was Aaron’s father in all but blood, but having a son of his own was something special.”
Jeri’s family was growing, which made her very happy, but before she was to return to her career, she wanted one more baby.
“Actually, Benjamin was such a delight, that both Philip and I wanted to have another child, but while we’d conceived so easily with our first children, we did not have an easy time after Benjamin was born.”
It was actually Jeri’s husband who brought up the idea of adoption.
“Philip was actually a foster child. His parents died when he was little. He felt very strongly about children in foster care needing to be adopted because he never had been.”
Philip and Jeri decided instead of having a baby of their own, they’d foster a child with the intent to adopt.
“We welcomed Jamie into our home knowing we’d adopt him. The foster system takes time, though. They don’t just let you adopt a child right away. You have to have visits with social workers and see counselors. But we knew Jamie was our son as soon as he came into our house.”
Though Aaron was older than Jamie, the two of them became instant friends.
“It was almost like they were brothers just waiting to be brought back together. Jamie and Aaron had so much in common! I expected Aaron to be a little stand-offish to Jamie at first, but that isn’t what happened at all. They were kindred spirits.”
Around the time that Jamie joined the Fields family, Jeri finished her screenplay.
“I was really proud of what I’d written. I wasn’t sure if anyone else would like it, but I was ready to get back to work and see if I could get my movie made.”