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Miley Cyrus (no relation to the actor playing Hanna Montana, was an American circus dwarf hugely popular in the 1960s. She was part of the famous '202 ranch' traveling performance show produced by the Walt Disney Geschellschaft (not related to the American Walt Disney Corporation).
She started out as a model for baby food commercials, her parents being unable to pay the rent, but also noticing her natural acting ability from as young as the age of 1, when her mother noticed that she smiled a lot when you hugged her, fed her, and changed her diapers.
blockquote I have seen a lot of babies in my time, but none seemed so ready for the stage as little Miley. It was as though she was born with makeup on, an eager eye towards pleasing the audience and the director. We had dressing room mirror lights installed as soon as we realized she was a prodigy, and enrolled her in The New School toddler's acting program, at The Actor's Studio. James and I were able to join the NAPCA (National Association of Parents of Child Actors) after she passed her first audition, for a baby food commercial for Gerber's creamed corn. At the first meeting, people recognized us, saying 'you must be the parents of that baby in the Gerber piece... bravo. Bravo..blockquote --Harry Cyrus, Miley's mother.
Miley soon went on to star in many other TV commercials, such as one for Camel Infants, "the cool cigarette that kept baby happy". Despite an allergic reaction that inflamed her trachea and caused her fingernails to turn yellow, she managed to get through the performance. "It was great" said director Florian Henckel Von Donnersmark (not related), "she was a real trooper"
Miley went on to audition for pre-teen roles, such a Diaper commercials, cereal commercials, toy commercials, mop commercials, and so forth and so on. After countless cereal shoots, it was revealed that she had developed an addiction to count chocula, and after a brief preff conference with PreTeen E! she was admitted to rehab.
In rehab, she met pre-teen Zac Efron, and after getting out of rehab, and waiting the prescribed number of months before getting in a relationship, they announced their wedding on June 25, 1986. Eight days later, they were divorced, citing 'irreconilable differences'.
As Miley aged, she found it difficult to get good roles anymore. She was thinning out, and getting wrinkles, breasts, and growing armpit hair. Nobody wanted to hire her. This, along with he divorce, sent her back to Count Chocola, her one reliable companion, but after briefly eating a few flakes, she threw the box away, and went into a shame spiral. Desperate in the middle of the night, she called her cousin Vinnie, who said he could get her out of any jam, any jam, what was she in honey?
She traveled to New York, and found work in an off off off broadway production of "The Garrison Keillor Family", a documentary about the sordid, undeground world of National Public Radio. The role caused her to have nightmares, as she was required to do many disgusting things in the performance, like eat live bats, and beat a chicken to death. She quit acting, swearing that the industry was evil, and that she would rather be poor and miserable in an office job or as a waiter the rest of her life.
Five years later, she was poor and miserable, and had an office job, and was also a waiter, because rent in New York is like 1500 bucks a month for a one bedroom efficiency in the ghetto next to the meth dealers and the kid who thinks he is going to be a rapper some day, and maybe he will be, if he stops playing video games at 3 in the morning at full volume. She decided that she wanted to go back to acting after all, and that even though her parents were freaks, and had pushed her too hard, and that the industry was full of scum sucking lunatics and head cases, that at least she would not have to deal with customers or HR anymore.
She moved out west, to Montana, to try out in the 202 Ranch and Circus Extravaganza. She had a little known talent - she could turn her foot inside out. They said they didn't need any actors for the show, but they could use a few sideshow freaks, and so there she was. She turned her foot inside out for the people, day in, day out, 25 cents a person, which was a lot of money back then. She realized she could make the kids laugh, even while the parent were horrified, and that horrified the parents even more.
She decided, at the ripe old age of 11, to make a change in her life. She was going to be a comedic actor, and maybe sing a little. She loaded all her belongings in her 1978 Ford Pinto, and drove the 1400 miles to Los Angeles. She found an apartment, 3 great roomates, and a job at a restaurant called The Peach Pit. After a few months, she decided she would write down everything she saw, and then put it on a TV show.
By the time she was 12, she had a sitcom. She was starring as Hiley, the precocious, lovable all american girl that everyone loved. Her signature move was putting her hands on her hips, and uttering the catch phrase "Thats not my problem", which always brought the house down.
Pressure behind the set, though, was intense. Harold Libermeyer, the shows producer, was demanding more and more of the catch phrases. Production would go on 15 or 18 hour days, 6 days a week during the season. The network kept demanding more, and more. Miley was becoming exhausted, at least to her friends. Her body looked emaciated. She had huge dark circles under her eyes. Her fingernails were turning black and falling off. Her hair was falling out. One of her toes had an infection because she had to wear high heels as part of the gimmick of the show. She was at the end of her rope.
That's when Todd Barnez came into the picture. He offered her kindness, but he also offered her count chocula. She couldnt resist. There was nobody to turn to.. she had no parents, few friends, and no support network to stand by. Todd was it. She took to spending more and more time around him. Her work suffered. On sreen, she would flub lines, and she even forgot her catch phrase once. The hollywood press began to spread the rumors that were heard from studio audiences. She was strung out, she was losing it, there was something going on with her.
The series was ended, for her, in November, 1986. Harold Leibereyer had had enough. He told her that it was either the work or the count chocula. She had until the next day to make up her mind. But that night, she got into an argument with Todd, took off driving the streets of LA again, and ran through a stoplight, crashing into another car, injuring the driver. She fled the scene, fearing publicity, but was hunted down by a police car and a helicopter camera crew.
The tabloids had it all over their front pages. She was out of the spotlight, out of the heart of america, and out of work. She stumbled back to her apartment, broken, empty, and facing a blank future with nothing on it.
Waitressing was her only respite. She worked on and off a few years, crashing on friends couches, and trying to piece back her career. Her agent wouldn't return her calls, old contacts from the industry hung up on her, or pretended not to see her when she was out at the supermarket or in a coffee shop. Todd had long since dumped her for the girl that replaced her on the show, Haley Joel Osment. America had moved on to a new sweetheart, and Miley's heart was broken.
She revved up her 1965 Shelby Mustang, which she had had repainted gloss black, and drove the street of LA, her hand on her 8 year old chin, thinking about what had gone wrong in her life.
It was then that she found an ad in the paper for a small independent film. The film was called 'cool'. It had a tiny budget, and the director was an unknown graduate of the university of missouri named Tim Montgomery. Nobody could forsee it, but this was going to be the change that Miley had been looking for.
So, at the ripe old age of 18, Miley reinvented herself. The film had a smll release. It debuted at Sundance to moderately good reviews, and was popular in a few regional art house theatres. Her career was not back, but her art was. She got a few more roles in small, independent productions with budgets of a few hundred thouand dollars each. This, along with waitressing, kept her going, and she was able to afford a small apartment of her own again.
Today, Miley splits her time between her new love, the theatre, and auditioning for roles in small productions. When asked if she misses the fame of her earlier years, she says... yes. But she doesn't want it. She still feels a pang, when she sees her image, reflecting back at her in a store, a mass marketed toy, her likeness, being bought and sold. It gives her a pause, and she feels queasy. But she moves on.
In fact, she avoids big stores, and tries to stick to the small local grocerie or farmers markets. She started trying to grow tomatos, as it is one of the few positive memories of her childhood with her parents. She doesn't want to go back to 'the world', does not want Variety magazine calling her for interviews, and prefers to be on the back page of Fangoria or CineFX. She is good where she is.
In 1978 an interview came out in GQ, in which Miley claimed that one of her early directors had put her in unsafe working conditions on the set of 'Cannibal Holocaust Adventures'. The director, Gene Hanks, cousin of Tom Hanks countered in an interview with Tiger Beat where he pointed out that "she was the star of the show, I couldn't afford to let her get hurt. . . some of these stunt people and extras, you know, maybe some of them got injured, but she, I made sure she had everything she needed. Like bandaids for her knees when they got all bloody from the rotating-house set we built, where the popcorn ceiling was cutting into her, and also I gave her free penicillin after she was infected with bubonic plague in the rat-swarming scene. I gave her everything that I knew how to give. Maybe I could have done more, but I am sorry."