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"I Am Woman" Singer Helen Reddy Dies at 78

The beloved performer was reportedly suffering from dementia.

Helen Reddy
(© Tristan Fuge)

Australian-American singer Helen Reddy has died at the age of 78. The feminist icon, performer of the legendary hit "I Am Woman," was reportedly suffering from dementia.

Born in Melbourne to a show-business family, Reddy's first real hit on the American record charts was a cover of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar. Her stardom was confirmed with the arrival of "I Am Woman," which reached the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1972. The song became an anthem for the feminist movement, and Reddy became the first Australian singer to top American record charts and earned a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Over the course of her career, Reddy had more than a dozen hits on the Top 40, including "Delta Dawn" and "Angie Baby," both of which went to No. 1. She earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1974 and was a regular headliner in Las Vegas.

In the 1980s, Reddy entered the world of musical-theater. Her stage roles across the United States included Reno in Anything Goes, Mrs. Sally Adams in Call Me Madam, Drood in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and four productions of the solo show Shirley Valentine. She made her Broadway debut as Mrs. Johnstone in Blood Brothers in 1995, eventually joining the West End company, as well.

Eventually, Reddy retired from the entertainment industry, earning a degree in Clinical Hypnotherapy and practicing the craft her native Australia. "I practice more of a form of spiritual hypnotherapy," she told TheaterMania in 2012, "specifically, past life regressions, reuniting people with loved ones who have passed over. I deal with the other side a lot." She came out of retirement around that time and began performing concerts once again.

A biopic about Reddy's life, titled I Am Woman, was released this month. Survivors include her children, Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers, as well as her Tony-nominated nephew, actor Tony Sheldon.

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