After breaking her neck in a life-threatening dive, actress and mom Brooke Burns talks to INBETWEEN about making her way back into the biz, being part of a blended family and how she explains those Baywatch babe days to her teen daughters.
Brooke Burns was living her dream. She had recently come off starring roles in popular TV series Baywatch and Ally McBeal and had appeared in the film Shallow Hal, alongside Gwenyth Paltrow. Her star was shining bright.
Then, on Nov. 11, 2005, she took a dive that would change the course of her life. In the backyard of her Los Angeles home, Burns dove into her swimming pool and smashed her head at the bottom of the pool, breaking her neck. Miraculously, Burns survived the incident with no signs of paralysis; however her recovery wasn’t without its challenges.
At the time she was working on the television show, Pepper Dennis, for Fox. To protect herself from others accidentally bumping into her, and setting back her recovery, Burns walked around set with a neck brace and hoola-hoop. A doctor’s note allowed her to take her neck brace off in three-minute increments, just enough time to shoot her scenes.
Despite her physical challenges, Burns says the accident also had a strong emotional impact on her daughter, Madison, who was just five years old at the time.
“I think she internalized it in the beginning and then about a year later we were hiking together and I stubbed my toe and she started crying and asked if I was going to have to go to the hospital,” says Burns. “I realized that it was still alive in her, that an injury, no matter how small, could be much larger and scarier to her.