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Out Of My Mind

An Autobiography

Dynastic Hollywood Family UPI Arts& Entertainment Scott's World
by Vernon Scott © 1999...UPI Hollywood Reporter

HOLLYWOOD (UPI) - Family dynasties flourish in Hollywood as they do in other places, but the players are more visible. One of the most curious and least publicized is the generational integration of three particular Hollywood families. They are revealed in a unique book titled "Out of My Mind" by Kristin Harmon Nelson Tinker, a remarkable artist and writer who is at the center of this family nebulae.

The coffee table-style book is advertised as an autobiography. But it is much, much more. "Out of My Mind" is partly a beautiful collection of the author's art, variously called unschooled, primitive or naif. Call it what you will, Kristin's paintings illustrate her life, illuminating the depth of her feeling, disappointments, tragedies and triumphs.The book documents the perils and pleasures of living on the periphery of families, and the oddities, of being the wife of a sex symbol. Kristin is the daughter of football's legendary, Tom Harmon and Elyse Knox, the gorgeous movie leading lady of the 40's. Her brother is actor Mark Harmon.

She has been the daughter-in-law of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson and the wife of actor/ musical superstar Rick Nelson. Her twin sons from that marriage, Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, are a hit recording duet. Her daughter is TV star Tracy Nelson. Kristin was also the wife of TV producer Mark Tinker, son of TV tycoon Grant Tinker, whose former wife is Mary Tyler Moore.

To spread the web a bit further, brother Mark now stars in TV's "Chicago Hope," produced by John Tinker, Kristin's brother-in-law. Born and reared in Hollywood - actually the San Fernando Valley - Kristin is a product of her environment and time. She survived the wealth, the fame, the beautiful people, the spotlight shinning on her parents, siblings, husband and offspring. It hasn't been easy. For a time she lost her bearings with substance abuse, a problem that made headlines when her brother tried to gain custody of her youngest son.

It is all there, in "Out of My Mind," more than 30 of Kristin's paintings, her poetry, photographs and prose. She quotes famous poets and bits of literature. The mix includes excerpts from her journal, newspapers, personal letters and popular songs. There isn't another book quite like it. "Out of My Mind" might well have been titled "Out of My Heart." It is self-expression that hauntingly bears her innermost thoughts and feelings, with humor and wisdom. At lunch the other day Kristin said, "My work- comes from reality, from dreams, from the way I always felt it would be. From hopes for the future." Kristin is not blind to her shortcomings in person or on the pages of her book. She examines herself as daughter, wife and mother with a perceptive eye. She did not aspire to celebrity herself, although she appeared as a regular on the "Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" TV series for a time. "That was really fun" she said smiling. "Those were good times."

Less good were the struggles she had as a single mother rearing four young children without financial security. Clearly there were spans of her life when she did not like herself very much. There were years, too, when she was unsure of her identity, seeing herself as bits and pieces of those around her. Her mother is an accomplished painter, which inhibited Kristin when, as a teenager, she began painting secretly in her bathtub. Her spirits and career lifted when Jacquie Kennedy bought one of her paintings.

She writes of her courtship with Rick Nelson and happy times at his home with Ozzie and Harriet. She said, "Writing this book reflects my feelings in different area. I wrote the poems sometimes from disillusionment. The prose was solace. The paintings were done at my happiest. They are joyous moments of wishful thinking." "Usually I wrote the poetry first and the paintings followed. This book is my life." Kristin adored her father, a tower of strength and love through thick and thin. His death in 1990 was as traumatic for her as Rick's death in a plane crash four years earlier.

In a rehab hospital 10 years ago Kristin wrote: "Children with injuries can come out of any kind of family. Secret things are handed down, generation, after generation. The entire family suffers from an inability to communicate honestly with one another." "Our roles have been assigned in an unspoken consensus of opinion by all family members. My sister has been labeled the peacemaker, while my brother thrives in his role of rescuer." "I've been the designated problem ever since I can remember. I am the sick one, they remind me. If they fix me, then they’ll be fine."

Kristin is fixed now. And presumably her family is fine.

More importantly, her singular book is an artistic triumph, a treasure that may surpass all the accomplishments of her multi-talented family.

-Vernon Scott
-United Press International www.upi.com

"In this gift of a book, Kristin Nelson exhibits her unique and vividly entrancing paintings. From a darker palette, with unflinching candor, she weaves thoughts and fragments of her life into a mesmerizing setting for her remarkable work. This book has wings." -- Mia Farrow"

Through the striking innocence of her painting, and the vulnerable openness of her journals and memories, Kristin tenderly and bravely reveals some of the most intimate details of her life. This unique biography possesses an emotional candor that I found disarming and moving, and endowed with an honesty that very few artists ever have the courage to express." -- Dwight Yoakam

"Out Of My Mind" is a beautiful, beautiful book - visually and spiritually. With a rare and passionate delicacy, Ms Nelson reveals her journey towards art and wisdom. A gift." - Tyne Daly

"Autobiographies are usually not as personal as this. Books like this are the last ray of hope." -
Ed Ruscha..

Out Of My Mind: An Autobiography by Kristin Nelson Tinker
171 Illustrations including 136 in full color
232 pages 11x11 / ISBN 0-8109-3691-7 / Price: $35.00
ABRAMS Books - Available through your local book store.

Born in 1945 into a Hollywood family of "competition, achievement, and celebrity, "
Kristin Nelson began to paint in her distinctive American primitive style when she
was in her teens. Out of My Mind brings together more than 100 of her autobiographical
paintings to tell in words and images the story of her life. 171 illustrations, 136 in color

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