Hollywood star Isabella Rossellini writes book about raising chickens on Long Island

Sandy Kenyon Image
Thursday, April 5, 2018
Hollywood star Isabella Rossellini writes book about raising chickens on Long Island
Sandy Kenyon reports on actress, model and author Isabella Rossellini.

BELLPORT, Long Island (WABC) -- She has worked as an actress, a model and an author, but now, Isabella Rossellini has taken on an entirely new challenge far away from the bright lights of Hollywood -- and it involves chickens.

Film is in her DNA, Rossellini said. Her father was neo-realist movie director Roberto Rossellini. Her mother? Ingrid Bergman, who starred in what some call the most romantic picture ever made: "Casablanca."

So it's no surprise their daughter forged her own career on screen.

Rossellini has been the picture of elegance for half a century: the face of Lancome for decades. She is the embodiment of a movie star and a critic's darling, thanks to films like "Blue Velvet."

However, Rossellini has found a second career that is not as glamorous.

Given all of the glitz and glamour, what is Rossellini doing raising chickens on Long Island?

"If somebody would have to ask me what is it that motivates you, it's curiosity," she said.

A decade ago, the star found her career winding down and her kids out of the house and living on their own.

"So I went back to university to study animal behavior and conservation," she said.

This, in turn, led to her starting a farm, buying property adjacent to her Long Island home and filling it with crops and animals.

Rossellini found her farm in Bellport complimented her studies in Manhattan at Hunter College and her work with the Central Park Conservancy. She decided to branch out into chickens and started raising different breeds.

"I thought all the chickens were yellow like you see in Easter," she said. "Instead, they are different colors, different shapes. I didn't know that they recognize people."

The chickens most of us eat are called "broilers" and are simply too fat to fly!

They are bred that way, but the chickens roaming Rossellini's property come in many colors and sizes. Some can even take wing and fly short distances.

She introduces us to her friends in a charming new book, "My Chickens and I," which is most assuredly about chickens but also so much more.

She argues there is a need for biodiversity, which she achieves by raising those different breeds.

This volume is also an argument in favor of second or even third acts in American lives.

As Rossellini put it, "My life as an older person is incredibly interesting, thanks to the farm."

She joked that her kids and her friends thought she might be a bit crazy when she started raising chickens, but after the publication of her book, nobody can doubt the value of this endeavor.

And, it's in keeping in the tradition of her mother: Ingrid Bergman was known one of the most down-to-earth stars of Hollywood's Golden Age.


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