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‘E.T.’ Star and Self-Help Guru Dee Wallace Talks Love, Loss and Healing (EXCLUSIVE)

Learn how the actress became an author and radio host devoted to helping others

For more than 40 years, Dee Wallace has been captivating audiences on screens big and small. In the ’80s, Wallace became known as a scream queen thanks to her roles in horror movies like The Howling (1981), Cujo (1983) and Critters (1986). She didn’t quite set out to be a scary movie staple, though. As she tells Woman’s World, when it came to the horror genre, “I wasn’t looking for it, it found me.”

On top of being known for films that scare the pants off people, Dee Wallace is also widely recognized and beloved for her role as Mary, the single mom of Elliott (Henry Thomas), Michael (Robert MacNaughton) and Gertie (Drew Barrymore) in Steven Spielberg‘s iconic 1982 blockbuster E.T.

MUST-READ: ‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’ Cast: See Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore & More Then and Now

Wallace then went on to TV roles in shows like The New Lassie (1989-1992) and Just Add Magic (2016-2019), and today at 75, she continues to work steadily, with multiple TV and movie appearances a year. She recently could be found in six episodes of the procedural 9-1-1.

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Dee Wallace behind the scenes on a recent projectCourtesy of Dee Wallace

Despite having over 250 acting credits to her name, Wallace always knew she was meant for a greater calling, but didn’t realize how to follow it until tragedy struck and took her on a new path.

In 1995, following the sudden passing of her second husband, fellow actor Christopher Stone, Wallace channeled her talents as an actress, teacher, mother and mentor into writing five books, public speaking, working privately with clients, and developing the Conscious Creation Radio Show. The syndicated series debuted in 2010 and focuses on energy direction, overcoming challenges and practicing self-love.

Wallace also has two new films out this year, Last Night on Earth and The Legend of Catclaws Mountain.

Woman’s World caught up with the multitalented star for this exclusive interview to discuss her reinvention, finding love after heartbreak and why E.T. still resonates with fans after more than four decades.

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Dee Wallace’s fascinating career path

Here’s a little-known fact: Before Tinseltown came calling, Wallace taught high school, had her own dance and acting studio, and was always fascinated by the inner workings of the human brain.

After meeting her husband, Christopher Stone, Wallace started studying conceptology, the philosophy of stepping forward in the creation of our lives. “Brain science says what you focus on, you create more of,” Wallace shares. “When we focus on peace, love, joy and unity, our brains create more of that and the energy of the world shifts.”

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Dee WallaceCourtesy of Dee Wallace Archives

Wallace put those teachings to good use when Christopher died unexpectedly while she was filming the 1996 horror movie The Frighteners in New Zealand, and she had to find a way to regain her composure and be there for the couple’s only daughter, Gabrielle, who found her father after returning home from visiting Dee on-set.

Enduring this tragedy motivated Wallace to become a healer and branch out in a more meaningful way, connecting with people on a deeper level. “This line of work gives me greater purpose,” she says. “I help people be free within themselves in magic, because when we are free of our limiting beliefs and our fears, anything is possible.”

The power of healing

Looking at her unconventional career, Wallace laughs and says, “I spent half of my life doing horror films and the other half healing people from fear.” After more than 20 years, her work as a healer continues to grow. She’s also written six books and says, “I write spontaneously. I write from my heart because your heart tells you to do.”

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Dee Wallace and daughter, Gabrielle StoneCourtesy of Harlan Boll

Wallace is also getting ready to mark a big milestone, the 800th episode of her weekly call-in radio show, where listeners ask for her advice on everything from decision-making to health issues to moving forward from the past.

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Dee Wallace tells her own story

When it comes to matters of self-help, Wallace can talk the talk because she fully understands the magnitude of grief and the tools everyone possess to move on. “We all have our stories,” she reveals. “I come from a very poor home, where my father was an alcoholic and committed suicide when I was a senior in high school. Then five years ago, my brother took his own life.”

Despite the pain she has endured, Wallace goes on to say, “Those are my stories and if I keep using them to be less than who I can be, and it is not the story I want, I remain a victim.”

She teaches her clients that while everyone needs a period to grieve, it is also important to find the strength to move on and create your own freedom.

Dee Wallace
Dee WallaceCourtesy of Dee Wallace Archives

Love is in the air

Wallace describes herself as a girl from Kansas with the motto, “If it’s not working, I’m moving on. I love me too much to stay stuck in being unhappy,” which is why after she realized she and her third husband, Skip Belyea, had grown apart, the couple decided to quietly end their marriage and go their separate ways. Their divorce didn’t turn ugly, as is so often the case, and she tells us, “Skip and I are great friends and talk a few times a month.”

Regardless of the split, Wallace still believed “the one” was out there and knew she wanted to find him, so she turned to technology to help her meet her match. For 13 years, she’s been in a committed relationship with Lanny Tiefer, an electronics engineer.

The two met on a dating site and have been inseparable since their first date. When the pair isn’t working, they like to spend their downtime attending live performances and watching their favorite TV shows like Law & Order: SVU, FBI, and Will Trent as well as classic movies and old musicals.

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The power of E.T. lives on

It’s hard to believe it’s been 42 years since E.T. landed in theaters and captured the hearts of countless viewers. Wallace still has fond feelings about her signature work, saying, E.T. will last forever, because the message was about love.” As she explains, “E.T. loved himself, E.T. loved Elliott, E.T. loved their friendship and became everybody’s best pal and that’s a story that is possible for all of us to live by.”

ET costars reuniting
Cast of “E.T.” reuniting on “The Drew Barrymore Show” The Drew Barrymore Show

Not only does Wallace still speak to her onscreen children, Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore and Robert MacNaughton, the four actors also recently reunited on Barrymore’s daytime talk show, reminiscing and dishing on secrets from the set.

One of Wallace’s favorite bits of E.T. trivia? Reese’s Pieces, which famously appear in a pivotal scene, weren’t the original candy Spielberg wanted for the film. His first choice was M&M’S, but according to Wallace, the candy company didn’t want their product associated with aliens and passed on the opportunity. They missed out, as sales of Reese’s Pieces went up by more than 65%.

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woman holding child; dee wallace
Dee Wallace and Drew Barrymore in E.T. (1982)Courtesy of Harlan Boll

Wallace also shared how Barrymore, who was just seven years old at the time, thought E.T. was real. She recalls, “When Steven heard that, he had two guys sitting with E.T. at all times, so when Drew went over to talk to E.T. they would have him blink, raise his arm or hug her back. He wanted to keep E.T. alive for her.”

Dee Wallace looks ahead

In addition to acting, Wallace is also in the midst of writing another book, Horror Stories From the Life in Horror Films. The book offers a behind-the-scenes look at how all the scary movies Wallace starred in were made.

“I just finished a chapter on Cujo, and revisiting all that was amazing,” Wallace shares, recalling how producers used 13 dogs to play Cujo and how carefully each one was trained to go after toys for certain tricks. “The problem was controlling their tails,” she adds. “Everything was set up to be a game for them, so while they were having fun, that’s not what the film was about.”

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Dee Wallace in “Cujo” (1983)Courtesy of Dee Wallace

While Wallace says that she was extremely grateful for the role, she adds, “Cujo hands down had to be the most challenging project I ever worked on. Every scene was about how much do I break down? When do I break down? How long do I break down? — and I had to do everything like 15 times.” When the film wrapped, she had to be treated for exhaustion. Despite the physical, mental and emotional toll Cujo took, it didn’t stop her from chasing roles that tested her endurance.

Decades after she first won over audiences, Wallace has proven that she’s still got what it takes to succeed, whether she’s dealing with friendly aliens or scary dogs, or finding joy as a self-help guru.

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