“I thought I’d done a good job being anonymous,” said former LA Anchor Bree Walker, who turns 61 on Wednesday, and has been largely out of the public eye for years. “You can choose to be invisible … though apparently I can’t.”
Walker spoke to the LA Times after her arrest of drunk driving charges.
“I am nervous about coverage these days,” said Walker, a high-profile television news anchor in Los Angeles from 1988 to 1994 who was arrested last week on suspicion of driving under the influence. “I didn’t expect this story would have traction. I feel like I have been in shock and don’t trust the decisions that I am making even though I am trying to be lucid.”
Over the course of a two-hour conversation, she seemed entirely lucid, particularly in light of the unfortunate personal situation that had suddenly thrust her into the headlines.
Last Tuesday, Walker said, she had been in San Diego, where her son, Aaron, lives. While driving home on Interstate 5 with her 5-year-old pit bull, Petey, she missed the turnoff for the 405 Freeway. Trying to make her way to the 405, she ended up on surface streets in Anaheim.
It was just after midnight on Wednesday when police there pulled her over for a red-light violation. They said she seemed disheveled and noticed an empty vodka bottle in her car. She failed a field sobriety test, but would not submit to a Breathalyzer, said police, who handcuffed her and took her into custody.
She spent the night in jail; Petey went to the animal shelter. Her Fiat 500c -- the “Peteymobile”-- was impounded.
Walker had no idea that her arrest, and her mugshot, were about to blow up. Nor did it occur to her to try to spin the news.
“When they offered me a phone call, I couldn’t even make one. There was no one I wanted to see me in my shame,” she said, sitting at a desk in her living room. Her desk was covered in circulars – pitches from pizza joints and DUI attorneys.
“I’m embarrassed and humiliated and ashamed of myself,” she said, holding up a flier from a well-known DUI attorney proclaiming, “Friends don’t let friends plead guilty.”
She said she had been afraid to look at her mugshot.
“Is it that bad?” she asked. An ex-boyfriend, she said, had called her to inform her that “in the world of mugshots, you are up there with Gary Busey.”
Her response: “That’s why you’re an ex-boyfriend.”
(Not that it matters, but I think he probably meant Nick Nolte, whose infamous arrest photo is the gold standard for bad mugshots.)
She screwed up the courage to look at the photo, which shows a very taut face, and full lips that many have speculated are surgically enhanced, which she denies. (“So look at my baby pictures,” she said. “They’re online. My lips are full. I think they look fuller because I am thin.”)
She stared at the photo.
“That looks like me, unhappy,” she said. And then, not entirely incorrectly, she added, “I look like Steven Tyler.”
Walker, who says she is an alcoholic, got sober in 2007. At the time, she announced she was voluntarily entering rehab. She told me she spent 30 days at a Promises facility in Venice. Last week’s apparent relapse, combined with the unflattering mugshot, made her personal lapse into a national news story. Walker said she was stunned by the attention, which she called “an aberrant explosion.” She has also been heartened by the number of old friends who have called to offer support.