DISHing with Donalds:  Kidstuff - not!

SCENE MAGAZINE - June 13, 2002
By Patricia Black

Anticipating publication of his autobiographical book, Father’s Touch, I dished with Donald. Never able to go to McDonald’s as a kid, Donald chose it as a fun place to be “dished.”

I asked if we could film there, but it's too much red tape! Harris Park is easier.

You were largely responsible for your mother’s and siblings’ lives, as well as trying to deal with all your own “stuff,” some of which was very heavy.  Do you feel that you can make up for your lost childhood now?

As I write in my book, “One of my childhoods was happy.” I wouldn’t say the same about my adolescence when the shit hit the fan and I was left to pick up the pieces. I was an adult child. But now I am a child-like adult. I’ve come full circle.

Your very supportive partner, Maurice, took the journey back with you to the places where your childhood nightmares took place. The way you have used this journey in the book reminds me of one of those progressive dinners where you start out at one house for the first course and go from house to house for each course, leading up to dessert. How does that analogy strike you?

Like My Dinner With Andre, except one of us knew for the most part where the story was going and the other silently listened. Oh yeah, Maurice did want to stop for some chicken . . . .

D’Haene--that’s a Belgian name. In Father’s Touch, you refer to yourself as “Thinking Donald, Feeling Donald and Other Donald.” In another way, you are Donalds plural: actor Donald, writer Donald, and cleaner Donald. How have you arrived at 41 seemingly with it “altogether,” and so positive and upbeat, given the abuse, the numerous moves and the strict Jehovah’s Witness upbringing?

There certainly is more than one Donald in terms of what fills a 24-hour day. By keeping busy with a variety of positive ventures, I have escaped my past to a great extent. This is intentional.

Some might be squeamish about reading Father’s Touch. I was gripped by it. The advance copies have received incredibly positive responses from all over the world, including Belgium. How could you write with such humour and courage?

My gift is story telling. I never focus on gruesome details. I’d rather the reader use his own imagination. Rather Hitchcockian I know - a favourite movie director of my youth.

Are the black and white movie reels you describe in the book still running in your head any or much of the time?

I’d rather talk about the commercials.

You have written that you could never cry? Can you cry now?

Are you kidding? When our beloved Siamese cat, Max, passed away a month ago, we’re talking Niagara Falls. I cry when I hear of a parent losing a child, untimely deaths, cruelty to animals, rape of women and children. I consider myself normal in this regard. On second thought, I do cry when I watch Touched By An Angel.

Since it’s very likely you are going to make money with Father’s, how will your life change?

I don’t think about that much, but cleaning a few less toilets would be nice.

Your web site ( has had about 5000 hits from every continent in the world. Donald - when can I get my hands on a copy of Father’s Touch?

Although the worldwide release won’t be until later this summer, orders may be placed at Oxford Book Store (London) or through the internet:

You have a role in London Community Players’ upcoming production. And you’re going to audition for The Wizard of Oz for the Grand Theatre 2002 season?

Moon Over Buffalo (Palace Theatre, June 20-29; 672-8800), a great farce that debuted on Broadway with Carol Burnett in the lead. No, I didn’t get her role . . . . As for The Wizard of Oz, talk about life coming full circle. I loved that movie!!! I even refer in a twisted sort of way to it in my book. Remember? Unfortunately I didn’t have to click my heels. I kept waiting for a tornado, so a house would fall on me! There was no place like home alright!!!

Thanks so much for sharing your last dish with me. Best of luck - you deserve it! And speaking of deserving, what is your favourite dessert - Belgian Waffles?