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'iCarly' actor Jennette McCurdy alleges physical, emotional abuse by late mother

The former Nickelodeon star alleges that her mother was obsessed with making her a celebrity.
/ Source: TODAY

Jennette McCurdy, best known for starring on Nickelodeon’s “iCarly," says she suffered years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her late mother, Debbie McCurdy.

“My earliest memories of childhood were of heaviness, and chaos,” McCurdy, 29, told People. “My mom’s emotions were so erratic that it was like walking a tightrope every day. The mood fluctuations were daily.”

McCurdy recalled being taken to auditions by Debbie when she was 6 years old and “cripplingly shy.”

Nickelodeon TV series with Jennette McCurdy at left and Miranda Cosgrove in 2007.Alamy

“My mom had always dreamt of being a famous actor and she became obsessed with making me a star,” McCurdy revealed. “I felt like my job was to keep the peace. And I wanted to keep my mom happy.”

McCurdy alleges that she was 10 when Debbie began bleaching her hair and whitening her teeth. A year later, she says, her mother introduced her to calorie counting. By the time McCurdy was cast in “iCarly” at 14, she was battling an eating disorder.

In the People interview, McCurdy claims that Debbie gave her vaginal and breast exams and never let her shower alone. Debbie McCurdy died of cancer in 2013. McCurdy's father, Mark McCurdy, did not respond to a request from TODAY Parents for comment.

Jennette McCurdy, right, posed for a photo with her mother, Debbie McCurdy, in 2009.
Jennette McCurdy, right, posed for a photo with her mother, Debbie McCurdy, in 2009.

Shortly after her mother's death, McCurdy says she began having sex and developed a dependency on alcohol. She also continued to struggle with bulimia.

“I know if my mom were alive, I’d still have an eating disorder,” McCurdy told People. “It was only distance from her that allowed me to get healthy.”

McCurdy has been in recovery since 2018.

"It's a risk to change your life, but I made it my mission," McCurdy said.

The show "iCarly" ran on Nickelodeon from 2007 to 2012. McCurdy reprised her role as tough girl Sam Puckett in the spinoff “Sam & Cat,” which co-starred Ariana Grande and only lasted a season. McCurdy began writing and directing her own projects in 2017, and recently wrapped her one-woman comedy show “I’m Glad My Mom Died.”

McCurdy chose not to appear in the “iCarly” reboot last summer.

Earlier this year, while speaking on her podcast, “Empty Inside,” McCurdy explained her decision to retire from acting.

“With (my mom’s) death kind of died a lot of her ideas for my life,” McCurdy said. “And that was its own journey, and a difficult one for sure.”