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Delta Burke Reveals She Used Crystal Meth to Try and Lose Weight

Photo Credit: Jason LaVeris / FilmMagic / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Jason LaVeris / FilmMagic / Getty Images

Delta Burke, now 67, recently joined the Glamorous Trash podcast, where she discussed some of the struggles she has been through as an actress. One of the biggest revelations came during her discussion about the scrutiny she faced about her weight. To try and combat her weight, she took some questionable substances, including crystal meth.

Delta Burke struggled with weight from early on in her career

Headshot of Delta Burke.
Delta Burke explains she was concerned about her weight even prior to joining the cast of ‘Designing Women’. (Photo Credit: CBS / Getty Images)

Delta Burke has been struggling with her weight for a long time. She explained that while she was attending acting school in London, England, she had been prescribed and was taking weight-loss pills. However, she also explained that when she returned to the US afterward, she discovered that her prescription was actually illegal in this country.

In one of her earliest acting credits, a sitcom called Filthy Rich that only ran for two seasons from 1982 to 1983, she said that someone helped her acquire a similar pill to the ones she was taking before while on set. She called these pills “Black Beauties” and said that she would “take them in the morning so you won’t eat.” She explained, “They were like medicine to me.”

She tried crystal meth

The cast of 'Designing Women'
The cast of ‘Designing Women’, including Annie Potts, Dixie Carter, Jean Smart, and Delta Burke. (Photo Credit: CBS / Getty Images)

Over time, Burke said she eventually grew a tolerance for the “Black Beauties” and wanted to look for something else to help her with her weight. It was then that someone had suggested to her to try methamphetamine to combat her weight. “Nobody knew about crystal meth at the time,” she said. “[They told me,] ‘You chop it up. You snort.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to snort it.’ So I put it in cranberry juice and [drank] it… and wouldn’t eat for five days.”

However, despite her all of her efforts, including taking crystal meth, she still couldn’t escape the scrutiny of others about her weight. “They were still saying, ‘Your butt’s too big. Your legs are too big,'” she said. “And I now look back at those pictures and go, ‘I was a freaking goddess.'” Unfortunately, this kind of criticism would follow her to her breakout role as Suzanne Sugarbaker in Designing Women, a series she was part of from 1986 to 1991.

Fame was difficult for her

Headshot of Delta Burke.
Fame wasn’t what Delta Burke thought it would be. (Photo Credit: Paul Archuleta / FilmMagic / Getty Images)

Burke’s departure from the show was actually, in part, due to her continued focus on her weight. She said that she was “emotionally too fragile” at the time, unable to deal with the “incredibly ugly” narratives that were being said about her weight. “I thought I was stronger. I tried very hard to defend myself against lies and all the ugliness that was there and I wasn’t gonna win. I’m just an actress, you know. I don’t have any power,” she explained.

The scrutiny had a physical effect on Burke, as she recalled one time “on the set when it got to be really bad, and I wasn’t handling it well with a smiling face, my whole body language changed. I would kind of hunch over… I just tried to disappear.” It didn’t take long for her to realize that fame came with a cost, one she wasn’t necessarily ready for.

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“Hollywood will mess your head up. And I had always thought, ‘I want to be a famous actress.’ I thought that meant that you would be a famous and well-respected actress, but that’s not what it meant. And the moment I became famous, it was like, ‘Oh no, no, no. This is not what I had in mind at all. I don’t think I want to be this anymore.’ But then it’s too late.”

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Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!