Julianna Margulies Says End of ‘Good Wife’ and Bout With Chickenpox Led to Memoir

Julianna Margulies began her recent memoir, "Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life," after wrapping the last day of her TV show "The Good Wife."

Julianna Margulies
Julianna Margulies has a new memoir out called "Sunshine Girl," which was her nickname growing up. Photo courtesy of Penguin Random House

Emmy Award-winning actress Julianna Margulies began her recent memoir, Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life, after wrapping the last day of her hit TV show The Good Wife.

“I went home and was going to pop open some Champagne with my husband, when I suddenly didn’t feel well,” she said, during an appearance this week at the Glen Ridge Country Club in Glen Ridge to promote the paperback release of her book.

Sunshine Girl

“Sunshine Girl” is out now in paperback.

She was stunned to discover that she had the chickenpox. “It was my body telling me, ‘I’m done—you can get sick now.’ ”

She was in bed for three weeks with time on her hands, so she decided to write a handbook for up-and-coming actors; she’d found over the years that many of them had never learned the etiquette of how to get along with others on set—and how to treat people that they worked with with respect. But then her agent told her that acting handbooks didn’t sell, and suggested she write a memoir instead.

So Margulies, 55, took on the challenge, and began by delving deeply into her childhood. Growing up, Margulies’ parents divorced when she was young, and her mother frequently moved her and her sisters around to locations including Spring Valley, New York, New Hampshire and London. It was a chaotic childhood.

In response, Margulies, the youngest child, always tried to be the happy one—thus, her family nickname Sunshine Girl.

“I was quiet and happy and easy. I lit up the room. I didn’t complain or cry. I always had to be that person,” she said. “I found that getting older gave me so much more power and confidence. It’s so important to know who you are at a certain age and to control the narrative.”

The ER star was warm, funny and self-deprecating in person. Petite and slender and dressed all in black, her appearance as part of the Glen Ridge Book Club was her first in-person talk on her book tour since the pandemic started. Last year, her book tour for her hardcover release was online.

It took her four years to write the memoir, which she says is not a tell-all about all the actors that she worked with or slept with (not many). Rather, it’s about being a woman and discovering yourself.

Sunshine Girl, published by Penguin Random House, is now available in paperback.

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