Anjelica Huston: Of royal Hollywood blood

Director John Huston, with his daughter Anjelica, at the 1961 Berlin Film Festival.
Courtesy of Scribers Books

(CBS News) Anjelica Huston is an actress with deep family roots in Hollywood, and quite a few stories to tell. She shares some of them with our Lee Cowan:

The Flying Heart Ranch near California's Sequoia National Park is a quiet, peaceful place. But for actress Anjelica Huston, it can be just as wild here as Hollywood.

"Well, I've got pigs over there, and I've got horses in here, and few little sheep. But it's an 'Old McDonald farm.' It's not a real farm," she laughed.

It was the first place the Academy Award-winner ever bought with her own money -- a retreat she kept to herself.

"I kind of bought it as a secret, and then I kept it a secret," she said.

It's one of the few secrets Anjelica Huston was able to have in her very public life.

At 62, it's a life she's now chronicled in the first of a two-part memoir: "A Story Lately Told," published by CBS' Simon & Schuster.

"If you're going to tell your story, you kind of have to commit to a certain degree of forthrightness," Huston said.

"It's very detailed," said Cowan.

"It is detailed. And so am I!" she laughed.

She was born heir to a Hollywood dynasty.

It started with her grandfather, Walter Huston, who won an Oscar for "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre."

It was directed by Anjelica's father, John Huston, who took home an Oscar, too.

Cowan asked Huston, "Growing up, did you feel it was a burden, a family burden?"

"I always liked being a Huston," she replied. "And I always felt like it was my right, and it was my birthright and it was who I was."

Acting is in her blood. In more than 50 movies, she's played some pretty imposing characters -- like her Oscar-nominated role as a con artist in "The Grifters," and the ghoulish Morticia in "The Addams Family."

Her love of acting started early, growing up on a country estate in Ireland. It was the stuff of fairy tales -- riding horses with her father and mingling with his famous friends.

But while her life may have been glamorous, she didn't think SHE was.

"I never felt that I was particularly good-looking," Huston said. "Because I wasn't!"

She grew into her unique looks -- looks she got from her mother, Italian ballerina Ricki Soma.

Ricki was John Huston's fourth wife. When he moved on, Anjelica, her brother Tony, and her mom moved to London, where she grew up a little too fast for her father.

One day he'd had enough.

"He dressed me down and then, he hit me," Anjelica said. "He struck me in the face."


"Back and forward. Yeah. He was a boxer. And I think his anger got away from him."

"So what was he like as a father?

"Fantastic," she said.

"Even though he hit you?"

"Even though he hit me. It was the only time."

WEB EXTRA VIDEO: Anjelica Huston on Jack Nicholson (Click on the video player below.)

Correspondent Lee Cowan asks the Oscar-winnin... 00:49

When Anjelica was 16, John directed her in her first movie, a medieval romance called, "A Walk With Love and Death." He played her uncle.

In a 1987 interview with CBS News, John Huston characterized the experience this way:

"I put her into a picture at the wrong moment. She wasn't all that good in it. It was a big mistake on my part."

"He was right," Anjelica told Cowan. "I wasn't ready to work with him. And he was too tough on me, and it was all too personal."

The critics tore her apart. But the harsh reviews were suddenly replaced by another harsh reality: the death of her mother in a car accident.

"It was like an implosion. A bottom falls out of your life," she said.

"'Cause you guys had been impossibly close, right?"

"VERY close. And my mother was a wonderful, spectacular, joyful creature."