When Shannon Tweed-Simmons came back to Newfoundland this week, she had her family on her mind.
With her husband, KISS frontman Gene Simmons, daughter Sophie — who had never before visited the province where her mom was born — and sister Sara by her side, Tweed-Simmons visited the Anglican cemetery in St. John's in the pouring rain, looking to find her father’s grave.
Donald Keith Tweed, a mink rancher, died in the province just a little more than 30 years ago, when Tweed-Simmons was 24. By this time, she, Sara and their siblings had been calling Saskatoon home, having moved there with their mother more than a decade prior.
At the cemetery, Tweed-Simmons said, the grave was nowhere to be found.
“We made a few calls and no one knew; they said it didn’t exist, and there weren’t any Tweeds there. I was like, “Uh, I’m pretty sure I was at the funeral, so it’s got to be there,” she told The Telegram. “Isn’t that weird? I was there (at the funeral), so I know. We’re going to have to look in the archives and find it.”
Tweed-Simmons, an actress and former Playboy Playmate, and Sophie accompanied Simmons while KISS played two gigs at Mile One Centre in St. John’s last weekend, and stuck around for a week afterwards. It’s the second time in two years she’s made it back to Newfoundland: the last time was in the summer of 2011, when KISS played the Salmon Festival in Grand Falls-Windsor and she filmed a cameo on CBC TV’s “Republic of Doyle.”
At the time, she told The Telegram she has family and friends here, but hadn’t been back to the province since 1982; she admitted this week that wasn’t quite true.
“Before (2011) I was back, but I didn’t have fanfare and nobody knew I was here,” she said, laughing. This visit was going to be a little family reunion, she added, but none of her siblings, apart from Sara, could get away.
The family did some sightseeing around town and visited friends in Dildo, where Sophie, 21, was Screeched-in while out in a boat. She loved Newfoundland, Tweed-Simmons said of her daughter.
“She’s more of the outdoorsy type,” she explained. “My son hardly ever gets outdoors, but Sophie likes it in Whistler a lot and she likes that whole feel. She was surprised, actually, at how young the city is. She said, ‘it looks old, but the people are young; I think it was because of the Regatta and the festival and all that.’ I said, ‘Well, it is a city, people grow up here and they have children here,’ but I think she figured it might be a little older.
While in town, the two women spent time on the set of “Republic of Doyle,” which is currently in production on its fifth season. Tweed-Simmons is reprising her role as villain Frances Dormond, this time with a young sidekick — Sophie.
Although Sophie spent eight years appearing on the A&E reality TV program “Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels” with the rest of her family and has acted in some small, independent productions, “Republic of Doyle” is her biggest part to date, and she seemed excited.
“She enjoyed it, and the director thought she was pretty good, so he’s going to recommend her for some other things,” Tweed-Simmons said. “She’s primarily a singer-songwriter, but we never put all our eggs in one basket now, do we?”
“Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels” was cancelled last year, after a special filmed for Simmons’ and Tweed-Simmons’ wedding. The couple had lived together common-law for more than 25 years, and days before the final season of the show, Tweed told interviewers her relationship with Simmons had “unravelled.” The pair were public with their relationship issues, which stemmed from Simmons’ cheating, and viewers of the reality show watched the couple attend therapy, together and separately, to address their problems.
In a Telegram interview at the time, Tweed-Simmons addressed viewers who messaged her on Twitter, accusing the couple of acting as a publicity stunt, by saying, “It’s hard — it’s not an act. I really haven’t got the time or patience to defend myself to people. I really can’t be bothered. You try and keep someone interested for 28 years and see how you’d do, all you (expletive) complainers.”
About a month after the interview, the couple got engaged; a couple months after that, they were married.
“He smartened up, didn’t he?,” Tweed-Simmons said this week, chuckling. “I gave him an ultimatum. You have to put your foot down at some point if you want something, and make it happen. It’s been good, very good, and I think he surprised himself how he thought marriage would be. He didn’t want to lose me, so he had to put out. He’s really happy. He said, ‘I’m way more productive now.’ I said, Yeah, OK ... that stands to reason.”
Tweed commented on KISS concert photos in The Telegram which showed Simmons on stage, in full costume and makeup, wearing his wedding ring.
“I love it. He doesn’t take it off, and the other guys all do,” she said. “He said he’s not taking it off, ever. It’s very sweet. It’s so cute.”
Simmons left town a little early to continue touring with KISS, and Tweed-Simmons and Sophie left Friday for home. In a few weeks they’ll head to Japan on tour. Tweed-Simmons and her daughter are hoping to get back into regular TV work, and have put together a promo reel for a new reality show for Force Four Entertainment and Corus Entertainment, which would feature the pair primarily, though the rest of the family would make appear occasionally, she said.
“It’s not like the last show — it’s more like following Sophie and her escapades, her career, her dating life. She’s pretty used to it now, so it’s not a big deal for her. She’s 21 and life’s a little more exciting than it was on our show,” she explained. “We’ll see what happens.”
Tweed-Simmons isn’t ruling out coming back to St. John’s in the near future, either, saying she and Sarah did some preliminary house-hunting while in town.
“My sister wants to come back here and live in the summer,” she said. “I don’t know, we’ll see.”
Do you have information that might help Shannon Tweed-Simmons track down the grave of her father, Donald Keith Tweed? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article has been corrected