Magazine article Newsweek

'Believe Me. I Know.': The Real Linda Richman Serves Up a Jewish Mother's Wisdom, Just like Her Alter Ego on 'SNL's' 'Coffee Talk'

Magazine article Newsweek

'Believe Me. I Know.': The Real Linda Richman Serves Up a Jewish Mother's Wisdom, Just like Her Alter Ego on 'SNL's' 'Coffee Talk'

Article excerpt

Linda Richman may be the only self-help guru around who advises you to go to bed with potato chips and dip when you're feeling blue. Instead of flowing robes, she wears a Donna Karan jacket, clunky gold jewelry and thick glasses with slightly outre frames. The midtown Manhattan hotel room where she is staying reeks not of incense, but of cigarette smoke. And her own personal deity? Barbra Streisand. "Like buttah," says Richman with a Long Island accent so thick you could spread it on a bagel. If a dim sense of recognition is beginning to steal over you, you are not alone. In the early 1990s, Richman was the inspiration for her son-in-law Mike Myers, who captured her almost perfectly in his "Saturday Night Live" skit "Linda Richman's Coffee Talk." America came to know her as a lacquer-haired yenta whose hanky-wringing taught us the meaning of the word verklempt.

But these days the real Linda Richman is a fast-rising star in the world of personal growth. For the last two years she has been giving "self-hope" seminars at the tony Canyon Ranch spa in Arizona. Soon you'll be able to see her lectures on public television. And she has written a book, released in January, called "I'd Rather Laugh: How to Be Happy Even When Life Has Other Plans for You," in which she dismisses what she calls "woo-woo spirituality" in favor of some straight talk on living with loss--all told from the no-nonsense perspective of one of America's most famous Jewish mothers. Even superguru Deepak Chopra counts himself among her fans. "I have never met anyone who is as aggressively uncredentialed and yet so extremely helpful to people who are seeking some kind of solace," says Chopra. "She has a lot of wisdom."

Her healing touch, Richman says, doesn't come from guided meditations or deep cleansing breaths but from hard knocks, and plenty of them. Neglected as a child, she was married for 29 years to a compulsive gambler. …

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