Back in 1993, Butler looked poised to be the next Roseanne Barr with her comedy series “Grace Under Fire.” The series lasted 112 troubled episodes remembered more for Butler’s diva attitude than the comedy.
Whether it was bad advice, a lousy attitude, drugs, emotional baggage, outside forces or a mix of the all, Butler went from heir to the comedy kingdom to an outcast we hadn’t seen until Charlie Sheen’s winning rants.
Many of those who worked with Butler won’t even talk about how hard it was to do the show. Butler says that former Fresno mayor Alan Autry was one of the few people she worked with at that time who didn’t turn their back on her. Autry’s in a small minority as most of Hollywood watch Butler spiral down to the point she was living in a homeless shelter.
She may still be an outcast to many, but Butler’s back. It reads like a huge bit of irony, but Butler has a recurring role on the new Charlie Sheen FX comedy “Anger Management.”
“Charlie and I go way back,” says Butler at a recent Fox party. “He’s the one who recommended me for the job but I thought he was just being nice because he really is a nice guy. But, then it happened.”
All of the first season episodes have been wrapped and now Butler waits to see if she will be doing a second year. While she waits, Butler has a role on the daytime drama, “The Young and the Restless.” Neither role is a headling part but when you have dug an emotional grave as deep as Butler’s the only way out is with small steps.
The work helps, but Butler’s also found a new emotional center. She’s tapped into her psychic abilities.
“I didn’t sign up for it,” Butler says with a smile. “Most people are psychic. Everyone has degrees of it. I just found out there were things I knew, that I would have had no other way of knowing and I have been trying to make friends with that ever since.”
When Butler talks about psychic abilities, she’s not referring to those who peer into glass globes or read the treads on your shoes to know whether or not you are going to meet a tall dark stranger. She’s talking about the gut feelings, women’s intuition, nagging notions and odd coincidences that got more attention before technology texted them into oblivion.
She’s used this ability to step back and realize what’s important. It’s a perspective that comes far easier when a person has stood on top of the mountain and came tumbling down.
“Nothing happened at the wrong time for me. I just maybe hit the snooze alarm more than I needed to,” Butler says. ”
Butler, 54, says for a smart person, she’s a very slow learner when it comes to what really matters. her new focus helped her, when she was out of show business, realize doing comedy was what she loved and that’s where she’s suppose to be. Realizing what she wanted to do and getting a second chance doesn’t go hand-in-hand.
At least Sheen was there to offer a hand and she’s being on her best behavior these days.
“I have shortcomings and have done things that people will never forgive me for but if I don’t learn from those things then shame on me,” Butler says. “If someone doesn’t want to forgive me, then they are stunting their own life.”
At the end of the interview, as I thank Butler, she grabs my left arm and asks me if my mother’s father was a big man. He was. Butler then tells me that my mother’s father and mother are in the room and are very proud of me. I have no psychic abilities (that I know of) but it would be nice to see if Butler’s deceased relatives were seeing any pride in the effort she seems to be making to find just a little forgiveness for the wrongs she knows she committed.