In 1985, Tracey Gold got the part of Carol Seaver on a new sitcom called Growing Pains. The family-friendly sitcom immediately became popular, making Gold a star. Though her career was a success, the pressures of the spotlight soon took a dangerous toll, and she struggled with eating disorders, her weight plunging at one point to 80 pounds. She overcame her disorder and went on to raise a family.
Actress Tracey Gold was born Tracey Claire Fisher on May 16, 1969, in New York City. Six years after her birth, her mother Bonnie Fisher married an actor named Harry Goldstein, who adopted Tracey and her younger sister, Missy. The whole family took on the new last name, Gold. The Golds went on to have three more daughters, and three of the four Gold girls eventually became actors.
Gold booked her first acting job by accident, after tagging along with her stepfather, Harry, to an audition for a Pepsi commercial when she was only 4 years old. Though Harry didn't get the part, Tracey charmed the casting director. Gold went on to book several more television commercials before landing her first serious acting role, in the 1977 Roots mini-series. (Her sister Missy was also a child actress, starring on the television show Benson from 1979 to 1986). Gold worked steadily throughout her childhood, appearing in commercials, films and television guest spots (though she told an interviewer when she was 10 years old that she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up).
She had recurring roles on two short-lived series: Shirley and Goodnight, Beantown. Then in 1985, she auditioned for a new sitcom called Growing Pains. Gold got the part of Carol Seaver, the brainy middle child of psychologist dad Jason Seaver and journalist mom Maggie Seaver. The family-friendly sitcom immediately became popular, making Gold a star before her high school graduation in 1987.
Struggle with Anorexia
Though her career was a success, the pressures of the spotlight soon took a dangerous toll on Gold. In 1988, a casting director made fun of her weight (then a very normal 133 pounds). Her bookish character was also frequently the brunt of on-air jokes about her weight. For a young woman who had already struggled with eating disorders, this proved to be a disastrous script.
Gold was first diagnosed with symptoms of anorexia when she was 12. She managed to maintain a healthy weight again after four months of therapy, but the teasing and pressure on Growing Pains retriggered her fears. She began a doctor-supervised weight loss program in 1989 to drop a few pounds, but was then unable to stop. She hid her weight loss from family and friends for two years with baggy clothing. Then, in 1991, Gold's mother, making a visit to the actress' dressing room, caught a glimpse of her daughter while changing and was horrified to realize that she had dropped to only 90 pounds.
Gold entered therapy but continued to battle anorexia, her weight plunging at one point to 80 pounds. Her condition worsened to the point where she had to leave Growing Pains in January 1992 (her character was sent to London to study rare books). The show ended that spring, and Gold continued to fight for her life. Her close-knit family rallied around her. "The Gold family has always been a role model," said Alan Thicke, who played the actress' TV father. "Harry and Bonnie Gold make the Seavers look like the Manson family."
By 1994, Gold was on the road back to health and started speaking publicly about her battle with anorexia. In October of that year, she married production assistant Roby Marshall, who proposed after arranging an on-air announcement from news anchor Diane Sawyer on Prime Time Live. The couple went on to have four sons. Gold credited pregnancy for conquering her body-image problems.
"When you have a life inside of you, it changes your focus," she said. "I've never felt the need to go back to [anorexia] again." But Gold made headlines again in 2004, after rolling her SUV down a California highway embankment with her family inside. Her youngest son suffered a broken clavicle and cuts to his head. Gold was arrested and charged with DUI. She pled guilty and received three years probation.
With a busy brood at home, Gold has taken some time off from her career to raise her family. She has continued to act—primarily in made-for-TV movies—has hosted reality programs and is planning a reality series of her own. Her favorite role these days is being a mom, she says. "I've been acting since I was 4 and have played so many different characters," she says. "I really like being me."
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