Helen Reddy, Australian Singer and Feminist Icon, Dead at 78
By Jennifer Drysdale
Rest in peace, Helen Reddy. The Australian singer died on Tuesday, her children announced on Facebook. She was 78.
Reddy, best known for her 1972 hit "I Am Woman," was diagnosed with dementia in 2015. She had been living in a Los Angeles nursing home for professional entertainers.
"It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Helen Reddy, on the afternoon of September 29th 2020 in Los Angeles," Reddy's children, Traci and Jordan, said in a statement on her official fan page. "She was a wonderful Mother, Grandmother and a truly formidable woman. Our hearts are broken. But we take comfort in the knowledge that her voice will live on forever."
Reddy's ex-husband and former manager, Jeff Wald, added on Instagram, "It is with great sadness that I must announce that my first wife of 18 years and the mother of my two eldest children, Helen Reddy, passed suddenly and peacefully at the Motion Picture and Television Home today. It took a while but we managed to become friends again after the divorce. We had many ups and downs, but more ups than downs. Life is precious and short, tell the people you love how you feel and don’t hold grudges."
Reddy, who was born in Melbourne, Australia, came to the U.S. at age 24, as a single mother of a 3-year-old. She went on to become the world's top-selling female singer in 1973 and 1974. Reddy won a GRAMMY for "I Am a Woman," and solidified her position as a feminist icon as she famously thanked God in her acceptance speech, "because she makes everything possible."
The performer had many other hits, including "Delta Dawn," "Angie Baby," "Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)" and "Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady." She also found success in film and TV. She had her own variety show, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year -- Actress for Airport 1975.
Reddy's story was told in the 2019 film, I Am Woman. In a statement to ET on Tuesday, the film's director and producer, Unjoo Moon, mourned Reddy's death.
"When I first met Helen Reddy she told me that I would be in her life for many years. What followed was an amazing 7-year friendship during which she entrusted me with telling her story in a film that celebrates her life, her talents and her amazing legacy," she said.
"I will forever be grateful to Helen for teaching me so much about being an artist, a woman and a mother. She paved the way for so many and the lyrics that she wrote for 'I Am Woman' changed my life forever like they have done for so many other people and will continue to do for generations to come. She will always be a part of me and I will miss her enormously," Moon added. "On behalf of all of us involved in making the film I Am Woman, producer Rosemary Blight and I extend our condolences to Helen’s family especially her children Traci and Jordan, her granddaughter Lily and her ex-husband Jeff."