the MIRREN LEE

The 2012 Act Three Journey of an Actress/Coach/Writer.

My Brothers and Sisters

Posted by themirrenlee on 01/03/2012

  • Mirren Lee Deutsch (Me, the eldest, born in 1951. I dropped the Deutsch for my acting career; people had their hands full trying to pronounce Mirren! Now with Helen Mirren having such a high profile I notice that no one ever seems to have a problem pronouncing her name, but they still do with mine. Why is it difficult to get a grip on it as a first name but not as a last? I can only come to the conclusion that we expect last names to be “different”, but first names confuse us if there is no frame of reference in our culture. It comes from a Scottish bishop who became a saint. There is a St. Mirren’s football club in Scotland that is quite well known to soccer enthusiasts. So while it’s a man’s name, it has been a female family name on my mother’s side for generations. My mother’s mother was Annie Mirren Dollar, my mother was Mary Mirren Macleod, then there’s me, and I named my daughter Sarah Mirren Kalpokas {her father’s last name}. Someday I must find out if it goes back any further.)
  • Molly Anna Deutsch, born 1952. (My mother always called her “Nana”, after the book by Emile Zola. However, Nana always hated it because she was called “Nana Banana” in school. When she grew up, she changed her name a few times, finally settling on Annie Macleod. My mother’s maiden name was Macleod, and her mother’s name was Annie. I will refer to her as Nana when I talk about our childhood, and then switch to Annie later.)
  • Paul Michael Deutsch, born 1953. (Always known as “Michael”.)
  • Jonathan Peter Deutsch, born 1955. (Always known as “Peter”.)
  • Sheila Jinette Deutsch, born 1957. (Her married name is now Narayan. Her middle name was supposed to have been “Ginette”, but while getting recorded the lady spelled it wrong!)
  • Daniel Colin Deutsch, born 1962.
  • Rory Mor Macleod Deutsch, born 1961.

My parents finally divorced, after over 30 years of a very unhappy marriage, and my father remarried. He had two further sons with his new wife, and they both bear the names of sons he already had! I always found this blackly funny, wondering if he “forgot” about this fact in the face of so many children, or just couldn’t think of any more names. They are:

Stephen Michael Deutsch, born 1986.

Jonathon Deutsch, born 1991. (I have forgotten his middle name for the moment. The Jonathon is spelled differently than Peter’s above, but  I still find it a bit uncomfortably close. I wonder if anyone else would feel a bit “weirded out” if their father named another child the same as them? Everyone in my family determinedly acted like it was no biggie, but I found it insulting, hurtful and definitely “a different kind of normal”.)

These two boys were born when I was in my thirties; they lived in Southern California, while I was in Australia. I have only met them a few times, and in fact hardly know them, so they are not grouped in with the siblings I knew growing up.

6 Responses to “My Brothers and Sisters”

  1. Very interesting about the repeated names. The same thing happened with estranged cousins in my husband’s family–two Emmas, two Johns, two Clairs.
    Have you used ancestry.com? There is a wealth of information out there just waiting to be unearthed about families. You can identify where long lost relatives are located and discover others you didn’t know about. Do you get the American program “Who Do You Think You Are” in Australia? It was created by ancestry.com and is fascinating. They focus on tracking the ancestors of actors and other well-known characters. The program is very well-produced and informative. I believe you can view past programs on the Internet. Here’s a link to the NBC site: http://www.nbc.com/who-do-you-think-you-are/
    I’ve heard there is a British and Canadian version, so perhaps there is an Australian version as well.

    • Strange with the repeated names, isn’t it? I reckon it’s guaranteed to make the people involved NOT feel special. I personally have not researched my family history, but Peter did a couple of years back, in great detail. Only for my father’s side, though. The really interesting thing we discovered was that everything we’d been told about our family history on that side did not match what Peter found out! I still have trouble believing he got it right. With my patience levels, I don’t think I could do the research, but I would sure love to have it done for me, especially on my Mother’s side, which includes the Scottish clan Macleod and it alone has a very rich history. I visited their historic castle called Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye in the 1980’s and it was so fascinating. Also very nice to hear my name pronounced correctly, with the rolling Scottish “R”! Yes, we have an Australian version of that show, and I’ve seen the English and American versions, as well. So very interesting, especially with people like Stephen Frye, who had no idea he had a Jewish connection with World War 2. Very moving. Thank you for your input; it’s much appreciated.

  2. HollieM said

    Very interesting Mirren… Can I ask slightly off-topic, what was it like for you being such a young mom? What do you think of those MTV reality shows supposedly depicting the lives of teen moms?

    • You know, for me, having David at 16 I hardly noticed a difference because I was already both Mom and Dad to my 6 siblings. He was probably the easiest of the lot! I had more problems with the marriage that my parents emotionally forced me into so that it wouldn’t be so scandalous; yet my parents were supposed to be artistic type bohemians. And, of course, I find out about the same time that my mother is having an affair with the guy and is mad at me for “taking” him away from her! You see why I want to write about it?! As for the reality shows, I haven’t watched them because they always seem so stupid, and bear no resemblance to what I experienced. For one thing, I was obsessed with birth control and didn’t have another kid for 20 years, something I passed onto Sarah and David. I said have all the sex you want, just make sure it’s protected. David was 32 when he had Nicky, and at almost 25 Sarah is not yet she even wants kids! Then I see these single parents struggling with multiple kids and I don’t get it. I never had sex education, and in 1967 we were totally ignorant without easy access to the Pill that was just around the corner. I didn’t even know I was pregnant until 5 months in – I thought I was still a virgin! The girls today simply don’t have the excuse of ignorance. Oh wait, maybe they do. lol

  3. HollieM said

    Girl, that’s some messed up stuff!!! U should feel very proud that you turned out as wonderfully as you did, I know most folks probably would have fallen off the deep end dealing with that kind of BS in their young years. You are a rock star 🙂

    • Thanks for that validation. You know, it’s a funny thing about trying to survive anything. When you’re in the middle of it, you don’t have time to think about what’s happening, you just do it. It’s only afterwards that you look back and go, shit, how did I cross that rickety bridge without a net underneath me?!

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