Release date2nd November, 1997 (USA)
26th October, 1997 (Canada) NetworkAmerican Broadcasting Company NominationsGolden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television CastOprah Winfrey (Zora Williams), Ellen Barkin (Glory Marie Jackson), Julia Stiles (Phoebe Jackson), Tina Majorino (Avocet Abigail Bird Jackson), John Savage Similar moviesEllen Barkin appears in Before Women Had Wings and Terrible Joe Moran
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A black woman (Oprah Winfrey) helps a white girl (Tina Majorino) cope with her fathers suicide and escape her alcoholic mothers (Ellen Barkin) abuse.
Before Women Had Wings is a 1997 television film, based on the story by Connie May Fowler about a mother whose abusive husband commits suicide. She then starts to violently abuse her two daughters. It is only then that a kindly black woman becomes good friends with her youngest daughter and helps the daughter escape her tortured life. The film stars Ellen Barkin, Oprah Winfrey, Tina Majorino, and Julia Stiles. Barkin won an Emmy for her role.
Life is hard for Avocet Abigale Bird Jackson (Tina Majorino) and her sister Phoebe (Julia Stiles), constantly putting up with their parents arguments. Their father, Billy (John Savage) is always beating their mother Glory Marie (Ellen Barkin) and every time things seem to go right between Glory Marie and Billy, yet another argument begins. Unable to put up with it any longer Glory Marie tells Billy shes taking the girls and leaving him. He punches her and knocks her teeth out, then drives off in the car. Later that evening a policeman (David Hart) shows up at the door to tell them that Billy has killed himself.
Set on starting a new life, Glory Marie takes her daughters and moves to a motel in Florida, where she gets a job as a bookkeeper in the motel office run by Louis Ippolito (Burt Young). They move into an old trailer because there are no rooms. Bird becomes friends with a kind black woman named Zora Williams (Oprah Winfrey) whom Glory Marie warns her to stay away from. Glory Marie begins to drink heavily, and beats Phoebe with a brush for staying out late with Louis son L.J (Louis Crugnali). She later hits Bird on the head with a mug for asking for a bike for Christmas. Glory Maries estranged son Hank (William Lee Scott) comes to visit for Christmas, as he left home because of his parents and there is still some friction between them. Bird spends more and more time with Zora, behind Glory Maries back, and realizes there can be a better life for her. Phoebe finally stands up to Glory Marie when she calls Phoebe a tramp for the way shes dressed and slaps her, Phoebe slaps her back.
Glory Marie eventually discovers that Bird has been visiting Zora and violently beats her with a belt and leaves. Phoebe takes her to Zora. When Glory Marie returns the next morning she barges into Zoras and demands her daughters come back with her, but Zora has a word with her and tells her she understands. When her husband died she ignored her daughter, but she never hit her, and she is going to see her daughter again, but she is not going anywhere until she knows Glory Maries daughters are safe. Glory Marie makes the hardest decision of her life when she decides to send her daughters away with Zora. On their last day together, Glory Marie makes them dinner, washes folds, and packs all their clothes and she brushes Birds hair, with the same brush she used to beat Phoebe. When the girls leave with Zora, Bird is unsure if she will ever see her mother again.
Ellen Barkin appears in Before Women Had Wings and Terrible Joe Moran. Oprah Winfrey appears in Before Women Had Wings and produced Oprah Winfrey Presents: Mitch Alboms For One More Day. Forgotten Sins (1996). Between Two Women (1986). Intimate Strangers (1977).
Ellen Barkin as Glory Marie Jackson Oprah Winfrey as Zora Williams Tina Majorino as Avocet Abigale Bird Jackson Julia Stiles as Phoebe Jackson John Savage as Billy Jackson Burt Young as Louis Ippolito William Lee Scott as Hank Jackson Louis Crugnali as L.J. Ippolito David Hart as The Sheriff