2. Use your senses as powers of recall
"Once you've determined your primary track, cross-connect that with your dominant sense — sight, sound, touch, taste or smell. Let's say you took that trip in 1997; what music was popular then? If you have a strong auditory sense, it's amazing how many memories start to come back once you take this ride." Others will find certain odors (of food or perfume, for example) more evocative; still others cannot make memories blossom without using tactile or visual cues. "Trying out sense memories is an ongoing process," says Henner. "Don't do it all in a weekend, but meditate on it once in a while."
Next page: More memory tips from Marilu. »
How to Be a "Sexygenarian"
I loved Marilu Henner's recent appearance as Linda, the sophisticated grandmother of Hilary Duff's character on Two and a Half Men: Ashton Kutcher's Walden Schmidt finds her so irresistible he forgets all about her vapid granddaughter.
Henner, a trim 61, makes Kutcher's memory lapse easy to believe. And he's not the only Hollywood type pursuing her these days: Henner hosts an eponymous talk show on the Genesis Communications Network; she appeared on the 13th season of Celebrity Apprentice this spring; and she'll be a strong presence on series TV this summer, with recurring roles in The Glades (A&E) and Unforgettable (CBS).
Of Henner's current projects, Unforgettable is closest to her heart — and brain: Her Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory was one inspiration for the crime drama, which she supports as both technical consultant and occasional guest star. (Henner plays Edie Tripp, the Alzheimer's-afflicted aunt of the protagonist, an NYPD detective with near-total recall.)
Though Unforgettable was canceled by executive fiat last year, it was resuscitated by popular demand. That may explain the unusual timing of its third-season debut: July 28.
"There's a lot more memory stuff this season," reports Henner. "Now that the audience has known this character [Poppy Montgomery's Carrie Wells] for a year, we can have more fun with her. You'll see her do some of the things I do: spitting information back at people, retaining details about people when I meet them. It's a lot of fun."
And yes, strangers do stop Henner in the street to test her memory. "Most people give me their birth date, and I tell them what day of the week that was. Then I'll turn that around and tell them the day of their 16th or 21st birthday. That gets them trying to figure out what they were doing that day."
Henner rises at 4 a.m. to do her radio show, then moves on to other tasks — and also finds time for family with husband Michael Brown, the former University of Chicago classmate she wed in 2006, and her two teenage sons from her second marriage. "I've never been much of a sleeper," she confesses. "Five to six hours a night is enough for me."
Juggling multiple assignments may be bred in the bone for Marilu Henner. "I grew up in a crazy family, with a lot of businesses going on under our roof," she recalls (perfectly, of course). "My mother had a dancing school in the backyard and a beauty shop in the kitchen. My uncle taught art classes upstairs. We also had the neighborhood astrologist, and ran a cat hospital on the roof."
Hmm, cats in the belfry? Somehow that explains a lot. — Stacy Jenel Smith