Ed Begley, daughter urge crowd to take action on climate change
There must be many TV viewers who sense that they grew up with actor Ed Begley Jr., who appeared in “Maude,” “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” “Room 222” and other shows before landing his best-known role alongside the likes of young Denzel Washington and Howie Mandel on “St. Elsewhere.”
But Sonoma County newcomer Amanda Begley really did grow up with him.
“He just seemed unusual and odd,” she said of her dad, affectionately. As she spoke on a couch at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, her father, distinguished in real life by his extreme — to the point of comical — devotion to living simply for the sake of the Earth, sat right next her.
Now 41, Amanda Begley recalled the day in her native Los Angeles that her dad loaded her and several of her junior-high girlfriends into his cart-like electric car for a drive to the movies. When the plug-in vehicle began to groan, Ed Begley turned to the girls and barked, “How much do you weigh?”
He had his mortified teen daughter wondering if he’d identify her heaviest friend and order her out of the clean and efficient but gutless car.
The actor, who’s now 69 and busy with the ABC sitcom “Bless This Mess,” was in Sonoma County last week for a speaking engagement at the Schulz Museum with supporters of the Center for Climate Protection. His appearance was arranged by his daughter, who has worked all her life for the environment and now is on the staff of the center dedicated to helping reverse global warming.
Glancing at the eldest of his three children, Ed Begley said, “My greatest accomplishment is right here. She puts me to shame with her activism.
“She always got it.”
Amanda Begley, who moved to Sonoma County 15 months ago and is engaged to builder Ben Vallente of Sebastopol, said she’s encouraged that today “young people get it in a way that I have never heard people my age get it.”
Her job at the Santa Rosa-based Center for Climate Protection involves working with high school students eager to help reduce humans’ reliance on fossil fuels. She finds that many young people believe, as she does, that climate cataclysm is not inevitable if people make simple changes, such as traveling more by bike or public transportation to school and switching to a more plant-based diet.
“It’s not complicated,” she said. “We know what to do. The solutions are ready to go and they will make our lives better.”
Amanda Begley was born at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai hospital in 1977 to Ingrid Taylor Begley and the then 28-year-old actor who’d starred a short time before in the made-for-TV horror film “Dead of Night.”
Even then, Ed Begley Jr. was a veteran environmentalist and pioneer composter, recycler, vegetarian, electric-car driver and shunner of modern, power-sucking conveniences.
In remarks before and during his talk to Center for Climate Protection boosters, he traced his conversion to his disgust at how bad the smog was in San Fernando Valley, where spent a chunk of his childhood with his parents, Allene Sanders and Oscar-winning actor Ed Begley Sr.
The elder Begley one day heard his son gripe about the air pollution and challenged him to do something positive about it. Begley Jr. seized the first Earth Day in 1970 as a call to change how he lived.