In 2004 an Exodus of U.S citizens was reported in the media. Michele Thyne was among this number of discontented citizens. They were essentially frustrated by the political situation: the second election of George W. Bush as President;
the creeping infringement of civil liberties implied in the Patriot Act which followed the 9/11 attacks; 30 years of hard won environmental law being weakened, and a war in Iraq started under false pretenses. “It was leave, or contract high blood pressure.” She left. Her flight landed her in our area of central Italy eight years ago.
by Breon O’Farrell
The Mag: Where are you from originally?
Michele: «I am a third generation L.A. native.»
The Mag: Were you in the film business?
Michele: «Yes. I wrote for 25 years, but with very modest success, often with fingers brushing the brass ring but never latching on. The work itself, the actual process, was hugely rewarding, the pitching, the gazillion meetings, the endless re-writes not so much.»
The Mag: Would I have seen your work?
Michele: «I should hope not!! Very badly produced, or dusty scripts on studio shelves, never to be made. This is not unusual, alas, some people make a perfectly adequate living this way. My dad was a film editor and my husband was a lighting director. Both worked in television, both worked on major shows. TV is a much, much saner way of life.»
The Mag: What were some of the shows your dad and husband worked on?
Michele: «My husband was on “Happy Days” (yes with Fonzie) for many years. On “Happy Days” we used to have these weekend softball games that Henry (Winkler) organized, and I always went to the studio for taping night. We had great wrap parties and in both my husband’s and dad’s case, they worked on wonderful shows with great producers which makes for that real show biz family spirit. When my husband died of an unknown lung disease, age 39, I cannot tell you how wonderfully the show, cast, crew and producer, took care of me. That is the real showbiz.»
The Mag: It sounds like a really exciting life.
Michele: «It was actually pretty normal for where I grew up. So many kids in my high school were children of the business, as I was, or in the business themselves. After high school I went to the Art Center School in LA for a few years, thought I wanted to be a fashion illustrator, quit to go into advertising but the actuality of the work was not “It”. I drifted around Europe for several years in the late 60’s, early 70’s, was for awhile a rock singer in Germany, made leather belts in Israel and Spain. I also lived in Mexico and traveled for some time in Japan. Later, having an incomplete education without a degree and a rather spotty work record it was either become a taxi driver or a writer.»
The Mag: When you came to Italy, had you lived here before during your travels?
Michele: «No, I never had been here before. I did research for a couple of years on half a dozen countries I thought might be good for us, eventually chose Italy figuring it seemed to be a good ‘fit’. I figured if we didn’t like it, we would just move on, probably next door, to France. The furniture was in storage waiting for a direction so it was just me and the dogs and we are fairly portable.»
The Mag: Your two Border Collies are a big part of your life aren’t they?
Michele: «They are my family.»
The Mag: Now that Barack Obama has won back to back elections are you considering going back to the States?
Michele: «Yes. Although, having become accustomed to breathing, I cannot return to my beloved home city, LA, which, sadly, has the dirtiest air in the US. I will go north to the Bay Area where we of L.A. tend to migrate and I already have quite a few friends and family there. I had a wonderful time doing my house here, which was a stone barn. A great creative experience, but now it is time to go home. First and foremost, formy dogs. I want to fill my life with lots of dog parks, film and contemporary art that I do miss here. I have listed my house with a wonderful realty company, Casambiente and another friend, Jim Powrie and it is pretty much up to the gods when it will sell and I will go home. I did realize here that, above all the things that define me, a Californian is pretty much the main thing.»
The Mag: Tell us a little more about your home here.
Michele: «My architect, and now good friend, was Irma De Arascaeta in Umbertide and we had a very close communication on what was wanted. I did a great deal of the finish work myself. After writing for 25 years I got into faux finishes, on walls and furniture and tile work. I did the kitchen, fireplace and lily pond here, the walls and also the landscape design. All big fun, it was. I bought this property for the fantastic light it offered, and it is well placed, convenient to both Città di Castello, and Umbertide, as well as the E45 for travel purposes. And I don’t get snowed in!!».