In the world of comedy, Brett Butler stands as an American actress, writer, and stand-up comedian. Despite facing significant challenges, she has achieved a net worth of $10 thousand. Best known for her role in the 1990s sitcom “Grace Under Fire,” where she portrayed the character of Grace Kelly, Brett Butler became one of the highest-paid actors on television during the peak of her career. However, recent years, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic, have presented financial difficulties for her. Let’s explore her inspiring journey in more detail.
Early Success and Financial Peaks
During the height of “Grace Under Fire,” Brett Butler was among the top-earning actors in the television industry. She earned an impressive $250,000 per episode, totaling around $5 million per season. Adjusted for inflation, this equates to approximately $9 million in today’s currency. Additionally, she had the potential to earn an extra $1 million if the show had been released on DVD, although this opportunity unfortunately did not materialize.
In a 2021 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Butler disclosed that she earned a staggering $25 million during her tenure on “Grace Under Fire.” This amount would be equivalent to around $45 million in today’s money. Tragically, she squandered her fortune through extravagant spending, poor investments, and generous charitable giving.
Financial Setbacks and Resilience
Following the conclusion of “Grace Under Fire,” Brett Butler encountered financial hardships. She purchased a farm in Georgia, but due to the inability to meet mortgage payments, she lost the property. In 2011, an Entertainment Tonight segment falsely claimed that she was homeless. Brett vehemently denied these allegations, asserting their inaccuracy.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated Butler’s financial struggles, leading to a complete drying up of work opportunities and income. Matters became so dire that a friend initiated a GoFundMe fundraiser to prevent her from facing eviction.
Early Career and Rise to Fame
Brett Butler was born on January 30, 1958, in Montgomery, Alabama. Her family relocated to Houston, Texas, when she was four years old, and later moved to Miami, Florida, where she grew up alongside her four younger sisters. Throughout her childhood, Butler’s family faced financial difficulties, and she battled with depression. Despite these challenges, she attended the University of Georgia, although she did not graduate, and worked as a cocktail waitress.
Launching her career as a stand-up comedian in Miami, Butler later moved to New York City in 1984 to further pursue her comedic aspirations. She made her television debut on “The Tonight Show” in 1987 and also performed on Dolly Parton’s variety series, “Dolly.” This led to a writing position on the show, but unfortunately, it was canceled after a single season due to low ratings.
The Phenomenon of “Grace Under Fire”
Brett Butler skyrocketed to stardom when she landed her own series, “Grace Under Fire,” which premiered in 1993. Created by Chuck Lorre, the show revolved around the character of Grace Kelly, a divorced single mother and recovering alcoholic. “Grace Under Fire” enjoyed widespread popularity during its five-year run. However, due to Butler’s substance abuse issues, she was eventually released from the production, and the show was canceled. Her addiction problems even led to the show being cut short, with only 14 out of the intended 25 episodes being filmed for the fifth season.
For her remarkable performance, Butler received two Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress in a Television Series, Musical, or Comedy in 1995 and 1997. She also won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Female Performer in 1994. In addition to her work on “Grace Under Fire,” she made appearances on shows like “The Drew Carey Show” and “Ellen” in 1997.
Brett Butler’s Journey Post-“Grace Under Fire”
After the conclusion of “Grace Under Fire,” Butler took a hiatus from acting, making occasional appearances in films such as “Bruno” and “Militia” in 2000. However, she largely stayed out of the public eye. In 2005, she appeared in the television film “Mrs. Harris” and the film “Vampire Bats.” The same year, she made a guest appearance on “My Name is Earl.” In 2006, she hosted the show “Moochers.”
In 2008, Butler headlined an art fundraiser and appeared as herself in “Brett Butler Presents the Southern Belles of Comedy” in 2009. Later, in 2012, she lent her voice to a character in the animated adult series “Archer.” During the same year, she secured the recurring role of Beth Hortense in “The Young and the Restless.”
Subsequently, Brett Butler experienced a career resurgence. From 2012 to 2014, she appeared in 38 episodes of “Anger Management” alongside Charlie Sheen. She credits Sheen for personally assisting her in securing the role by advocating on her behalf with the show’s producers. In addition, she resumed performing stand-up comedy at various Los Angeles comedy clubs, notably at the Downtown Comedy Club.
Between 2015 and 2017, Butler made appearances in two episodes of “The Leftovers” as the character Sandy. She also appeared in multiple episodes of “How to Get Away with Murder” in 2016. In the same year, she portrayed herself in the film “The Comedian.” In 2018, she took on the role of Tammy Rose Sutton in “The Walking Dead,” appearing in six episodes until 2019. During her time on the show, she also appeared in the film “Friday’s Child.” In 2019, she landed a recurring role on “The Morning Show,” where she portrays the mother of Reese Witherspoon’s character.
Personal Life and Overcoming Challenges
At the age of 20, in 1978, Brett Butler married her first husband, Charles Michael Wilson, whom she had only known for three months. However, due to abuse within the marriage, Butler left Wilson in 1981. Wilson later admitted to being physically violent towards her, but he also claimed that she was violent as well. Butler met her second husband, Ken Zieger, in New York City after relocating there in 1984. They married in 1987 but divorced in 1999. In 1996, Butler released a candid memoir titled “Knee Deep in Paradise,” which delves into her life before achieving fame through “Grace Under Fire.”
Butler’s battle with drug addiction persisted during her time on “Grace Under Fire.” She sought treatment while working on the show and was eventually dismissed in February 1998, leading to the series’ cancellation. Following the show’s end, she moved from Los Angeles to a farm in Rome, Georgia, where she was able to achieve sobriety.