Grace Under Fire star Brett Butler has fallen under hard times. Her situation is so dire that one of her closest friends launched a GoFundMe page to help her. Butler, 63, was making $250,000 per episode at the height of her fame, but she told The Hollywood Reporter this month she is “ashamed” of her current situation. She was close to homelessness at one point.
Lon Strickler, a blogger who writes about supernatural encounters, launched the fundraiser in July with the goal to raise $20,000. So far, the fund has raised over $26,000. “We all love and know Brett from her TV series, Grace Under Fire, as Grace Kelly, and her many TV and stage appearances. But like many others, this past year has put her in a critical situation and desperation has set in. I’m not exaggerating using those words. It is urgent,” Strickler wrote. Butler “exhausted” her resources and was under the stress of a “looming eviction,” straining her “mentally and physically,” he wrote.
It was not easy to convince Butler to go the crowdfunding route, but Strickler talked her into it. “I told him, ‘I might’ve waited too long to do this, but I am so screwed right now… I’ve been ashamed. Almost ashamed to death,'” Butler told THR. Strickler thought the GoFundMe page was “in her benefit.” They started the fund with a $15,000 goal before increasing the target to $20,000. “She still needs a little more help,” Strickler said. “She just needs one more little nudge to get back on her feet.”
The Alabama-born Butler was discovered as a stand-up comedian. In 1993, Butler was cast as Grace Kelly, a divorced single mother and recovering alcoholic, in Grace Under Fire, created by Chuck Lorre. The show ran five seasons and earned Butler two Golden Globe nominations. The pressures of the show led to a Vicodin addiction, which she admits made her difficult to work with. Her co-stars quit, forcing Grace Under Fire‘s cancellation during Season 5 with nine episodes left to film. A few years after Grace Under Fire ended, Butler moved to Georgia.
Butler made headlines in 2011 for financial struggles at that time, with an Entertainment Tonight segment even claiming she was living in a homeless shelter. Butler, who was paid to appear on ET, told THR that was not true and suggested that it was made up for ratings. In 2012, Charlie Sheen helped Butler get a small role in Anger Management as a cocktail waitress. She ended up staying on the show for two years. “If it wasn’t for Charlie, there’s no way I would have been on that show,” she told THR. “It literally saved me.”
The actress hit on bad times again during the coronavirus pandemic. Although she made about $25 million in total while making Grace Under Fire, that money is gone today. “I was a little bit too trusting with some people that worked for me, and I had a lot of things stolen,” she told THR. “hat’s just stupid on my part, not to have insurance for those things. And to loan and give a lot of money away. I really just felt so guilty for having it — I almost couldn’t get rid of it fast enough.”
Butler said she has been sober since 1998 and believes she “should not have lived” through that year. It seems unlikely that she would star in a sitcom again, but she hopes to return to stand-up. Her recent appearances on television have barely covered her cost of living expenses. She also had a bout of depression in 2019 after filming episodes of The Walking Dead and The Morning Show. “The blanket of the pandemic was something I hid behind,” she told THR. “I let it cover my own insecurities or failings. But it’s time to come out of it.”