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Brenda Vaccaro says 'You Don't Know Jack' revived her career

July 8, 2010 |  9:43 am

Vaccaro Brenda Vaccaro was ready to give up on acting until the HBO movie “You Don’t Know Jack” came along.

“I didn’t work for three years,” the 70-year-old said Thursday. “I was ready to roll this thing up and go to Normandy and pick berries with my husband’s French mother, because there wasn’t anything happening….I just didn’t feel the heartbeat anymore. And all of a sudden I’ve got an Emmy nomination.”

Vaccaro was nominated for outstanding supporting actress for her portrayal of Margo Janus, the older sister of Jack Kevorkian, in the film about the proponent of assisted suicide. It was one of 15 nominations for the project, which is a contender for best made-for-television movie.

On Thursday, a jubilant Vaccaro credited director Barry Levinson for reviving her career. “He gave me back my hope, my spirit, my life,” she said. 

The longtime stage and film actress already has one Emmy to her name – a trophy for best supporting actress she won in 1974 for the movie “The Shape of Things.” “How about the Ice Age!” she recalled. “For God’s sake, I was a baby. I wore white all the time – that’s how skinny I was. Now all I can say, careers are amazing. I think there’s an enormous amount of magic in it.”

Vaccaro spent the morning sitting in her backyard in Encino calling the cast and crew of “You Don’t Know Jack” as her neighbors shouted congratulations out of their windows. “It’s a great party over here on my back patio!”

She said she hasn’t “dared” contemplate winning again. “I’m scared to go there. All I know is right now, the feeling of being nominated by your acting family is just about as good as it gets.”

-- Matea Gold

Photo: Brenda Vaccaro in "You Don't Know Jack." Credit: Abbot Genser / HBO

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