I was a little disappointed, but Joanne Woodward was superb.” That movie critique of The Three Faces of Eve comes from a Fairfax, Va. housewife named Chris Costner Sizemore, who saw the 1957 film for the first time two years ago. But Chris Sizemore is more than just a casual moviegoer. She is, in fact, “Eve,” and the film was written from her doctors’ book describing Sizemore’s own troublesome multipersonalities.
In the film, three different personalities struggle for dominance in one woman. There is “Eve White,” a mousy Southern housewife; “Eve Black,” a brazen, hot-tempered flirt, and “Jane,” a poised, attractive young lady. At the end, Jane” takes control, marries and lives happily ever after. But for Chris Sizemore, not everything turned out Hollywood style.
“Jane” was in reality No. 12 in a parade of 22 separate personalities who lived as “strangers” in Sizemore’s body. Her alter egos had exotic names and bizarre habits. They ranged in age from 21 to 58. Some lasted a few weeks, others for years. They caused Chris and her family embarrassment, financial hardship and despair. Four times she tried to kill herself.
It wasn’t until 1974 that she began to free herself from her demons. In 1975 she started writing the just published I’m Eve with her cousin Elen Sain Pittillo. The book was undertaken for therapy and documentation. “During the writing we went back to my early childhood,” says Chris. “We cried as much as we wrote.” As the book tells it, Sizemore was born to a family of poor tenant farmers and witnessed two violent deaths before she was 3. The multiple personalities came on as an escape mechanism—in psychiatric terms, a “dissociative reaction.”
As she grew older, the personalities could change with dizzying speed. One might dance and drink the night away, and another would suffer the hangover. A headache usually signaled a change. There were, for instance, the “Purple Lady” (58 years old and obsessed with all things purple), the “Banana Split Lady” (who ate only banana splits, wore bright wigs and acted as if she were 5) and the “Virgin” (who wore no makeup and refused to let her husband touch her). Says Chris today, “It seemed like I was forever changing clothes, putting on makeup, taking it off or combing my hair.”
The other true survivor is her husband, Don, an electrical engineer, who for 23 years has lived through her ordeal. “It’s pleasant to see Don laugh and just relax,” says Chris, now 50. “We’re really enjoying each other’s company.”
She also enjoys painting and writing poetry, as did many of her other personalities. But she no longer fears that any new strangers will move in. “It was a coping mechanism,” she explains. “So long as I can cope differently with my problems, I think my life will be different.” She has lost 40 pounds in the last year. (“With four people eating in one body, it’s understandable that weight would go on.”) She received only $7,000 for permitting The Three Faces of Eve movie, and she would like to make money from I’m Eve. But for now, she’s happy being just Chris Size-more. Which, for her, is no small accomplishment.