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10 Famous Stage Mothers

The Quick 10: 10 Famous Stage Mothers

   by Stacy Conradt – May 6, 2010 – 5:44 PM

With Mother’s Day coming up in a few days, I thought we’d take some time to recognize a very particular breed of mom: the stage mom. Not all stage moms are bad, of course – some are just looking out for the welfare and well-being of their children. But others… not so much. Here are 10 Hollywood moms who were (or are) quite entrenched in their children’s careers, either for the better or the worse.

1. Jaid Barrymore. An aspiring actress herself, Jaid had Drew auditioning for commercials before she was even a year old. She landed her first gig at 11 months (a dog food commercial) and made her film debut in 1980 at the age of five. By the time she should have been in junior high, Jaid was out partying and drinking with her tween-age daughter. She later appeared in Playboy just eight months after her daughter.

2. Gertrude Temple had Shirley primed for Hollywood from the womb. It’s said that she desperately wanted her daughter to be in the industry and did everything from the pretty standard (having her listen to music in the womb) to the kind of weird (making her memorize the words to popular songs). And don’t think those famous ringlets happened by accident – every morning, Gertrude carefully styled Shirley’s hair to look like that of a young Mary Pickford, setting it in exactly 56 curls in a lengthy process that took hours.

3. Sara Taylor. Before Elizabeth’s violet eyes took the world by storm, her mother, Sara Viola Warmbrodt Taylor, was attempting to do the same. After having children, Sara never performed again and focused instead on Elizabeth’s career. “I knew there would come a time when she would want to follow in my footsteps,” Sara once said. “I could still hear the applause of that wonderful night when The Fool opened in London at the Apollo Theater and I had stood alone in the middle of the stage and taken a dozen curtain calls while a reputedly staid British audience called, ‘Bravo, bravo, bravo!’”

4. Minnie Marx was probably one of the original “momagers” and went by the name Minnie Palmer so others wouldn’t know her boys’ agent was actually one of their parents. She sounds like she was a pretty good one, though – her family thought very highly of her. Groucho once wrote, “She never got over the habit of working with [her sons], and they never got over the habit of going to her with their troubles, their problems and their joys.”

5. Teri Shields was a notorious stage mom back when Brooke was just coming on to the scene. A September, 1977 New York magazine cover story basically said Teri had sold Brooke into Hollywood slavery, forcing her to do intimate scenes at a young age and spouting off in interviews about Brooke’s breasts and her first period. And you thought your mother was embarrassing!

6. Ruby Dandridge was an aspiring entertainer as well. She devised an act for her two daughters, Dorothy and Vivian, calling them “The Wonder Children.” They toured the U.S. instead of attending school.

7. Carol Connors starred in a couple of dozen porns from 1971 until 1981, which is when she became pregnant with her daughter Thora Birch. She was in the notorious Deep Throat and also appeared on The Gong Show as the “hostess” who introduced host Chuck Barris at the beginning of every show. Carol and her husband, who was also in the adult entertainment business, had Thora audition for commercials from a young age. She appeared in a couple of commercials for Vlasic pickles and Quaker Oats before getting her first steady job at the age of six.

8. Rose Hovick was Gypsy Rose Lee’s mom and practically invented the term “stage mom.” In fact, her antics became quite well known when the musical Gypsy came out and exposed her as the type of woman who would practically slit throats to get her daughters agead in the business.

9. Dina Lohan. I probably don’t need to say much about Dina, really. You probably hear enough about her as it is. But I’m not sure a list of stage moms would be complete without her

10. Ethel Gumm was of the Ruby Dandridge school of thought – if she could get her daughters to be in a successful stage act, it was almost the same as being famous herself. Ethel, a vaudevillian, created a show that involved the whole family, including the Gumm Sisters. One of these sisters was introduced to the act at the age of two and a half; she would later become better known as Judy Garland.

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May 8, 2011 Posted by | Child Exploitation, Child Labor, Employment, Fame, Greed, human rights | 2 Comments

DIVORCE and Reality TV: 22 families and counting

22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

By Tracie Egan Morrissey, May 2, 2011 05:15 PM

22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

There have been seven divorces that have occurred on The Real Housewives franchise in the five years since its premiere. The most recent casualty of this “divorce curse,” Vicki Gunvalson, blames reality TV for her marital troubles telling CNN recently, “We didn’t have 90 percent of the problems that we have now and I truly believe it is the show.” But can a television show really be at fault, or does it merely shine a spotlight on the cracks that were already present in the foundation of a marriage? Whatever the case, divorce and reality TV have gone hand-in-hand since the very first show in the genre in 1973, when PBS’ An American Family, which featured the breakup of the Loud family.

22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Bill & Pat Loud
It’s ironic that something as intellectually highbrow as PBS and expensive reels of 16mm film birthed what’s considered by many to be the dregs of our beer-bottle culture: Reality TV. Producer Craig Gilbert’s vision of conducting an anthropological “experiment” is something that’s still debated when discussing the genre today. With the invasion of cameras into people’s lives, are we seeing the worst of humanity or are we seeing how things really are? When the Louds were first approached about the project, they were made to believe that they were chosen because they were the “perfect” American family, which seemed to set the reasoning behind agreeing to being filmed for all reality TV families to come—an inflated sense of self and conceit in their own camera-readiness. But when filming commenced for the Louds, a mirror was held up to their lives without even seeing a single frame of their show. Perhaps it was the meddling of producers or the pointed questions they asked that helped illuminate the problems that the Louds realized they could no longer pretend did not exist. In the middle of the project, Pat filed for divorce and the drama that Gilbert had been hoping to capture on film became, well, a reality. The Louds blamed much of their problems on the series and its editing after the fact (perhaps the only people in history who could rightfully say that they didn’t know what they were signing up for with such a project). The behind-the-scenes story of the Louds’ experience with the project was dramatized for the recent HBO film Cinema Verite, at the end of which the audience learned that Pat and Bill have reconciled and at 84 and 90, respectively, are once again a couple.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey
Perhaps because of the cautionary tale that the Louds provided in the early ’70s, reality TV took a break from families for a while to focus on partying twentysomethings (The Real World) and competition-based series (Survivor, Big Brother), but eventually returned its focus on the institution of marriage with MTV’s Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica in 2003. Unlike the Louds, who were vilified, Simpson and Lachey were celebrated way more than they had been in their original careers as pop singers. But after three years of marriage, the couple announced they were divorcing in 2005, just months after the last episode of their show had aired. Simpson doesn’t blame reality TV for their breakup, telling Vanity Fair, “In all honesty, I believe it did not affect our marriage because we enjoyed watching those episodes.” Lachey, however, sees it differently, telling David Letterman, “It was just so invasive that it became a problem.”


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Carmen Electra & Dave Navarro
Riding on the coattails of Newlyweds success, MTV aired ‘Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen and Dave, a one-season reality show about the famous couple’s preparations for their wedding. Although they broke up less than three years after they were married, the couple agreed on one thing—reality TV was not to blame. Navarro didn’t even consider the show very realistic “because you’re not gonna be real with an eight-man crew in your house,” adding that “It’s the most realistic portrayal of…life with eight guys with cameras around.”


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Shanna Moakler & Travis Barker
Desperate for more married couples, MTV recruited Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker and former beauty queen Shanna Moakler. The two seasons of their show Meet the Barkers chronicled their wedding and the birth of their second child. Barker filed for divorce just months after the final episode of their show had aired. But even though Meet the Barkers was no longer on the air, their relationship was still very much a show. Moakler infamously hosted a divorce party, featuring a tiered cake with a murdered, mohawked groom. The couple were then very publicly off-again-on-again for a few years until they finally divorced for good in 2008.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Whitney Houston & Bobby Brown
When America’s sweetheart first married R&B’s bad boy many thought it would never work. But oddly, it did—for the 14 years before they decided to open up their lives to Bravo cameras for Being Bobby Brown in 2005. In just 11 short episodes, viewers were given a very rare look into the private lives of the famous couple, and most were shocked at what they saw. Rumors had swirled about Houston’s drug addiction for years, particularly after her infamous 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer, but the reality show highlighted the couple’s loving, yet erratic behavior. Just months after the series finale, Houston checked herself into rehab and reportedly stayed separated from Brown until she had a divorce fast-tracked one year later.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Linda Thompson & David Foster
Years before they were ever on The Hills, Brody Jenner and Spencer Pratt starred in the Fox reality show The Princes of Malibu, which followed the lives of Jenner and his brother as the spoiled sons of former beauty queen Linda Thompson. The premise of the show was that Thompson’s babying of her sons caused tension in her marriage to songwriter David Foster. That tension must have been very real because Thompson filed for divorce the same month that the show premiered, causing Fox to cancel the series after airing only two episodes.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Kathy Griffin & Matt Moline
Griffin and Moline’s marriage seemed strong on My Life on the D List, but evidently, there were problems bubbling beneath the surface that caused the couple to break up after the first season of her reality show. However, they reconciled briefly and Moline was filmed for the show’s second season, but the couple divorced in May 2006, several months before Moline’s last episode aired.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Danny & Gretchen Bonaduce
If there was ever a reality show “train wreck” it was VH1’s Breaking Bonaduce. During filming, Danny fell off the wagon and began openly drinking and taking steroids. He and his wife Gretchen allowed cameras to film their couples counseling. The first episode of the second season shows Danny traveling to Mexico to promote the show, where he sees for the first time an episode featuring Gretchen getting a lap dance from a male stripper and he subsequently loses his temper. Gretchen then kicked him out of the house. The couple divorced a year later.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Linda & Hulk Hogan
The Hogans had something very rare among entertainment-industry families—a solid marriage that spanned nearly a quarter of a century. They opened up their lives for the VH1 show Hogan Knows Best in 2005 and in just two short years their 17-year-old son Nick was indicted as an adult on four criminal charges and sentenced to eight months in jail, a story surfaced in The National Enquirer in which a woman claimed to have had an affair with Hulk while he was filming his show, and Linda filed for divorce (just one month after the final episode of Hulk Knows Best aired). Hulk found out about the filing when a local newspaper called him for a comment.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Missy & Bam Margera
In 2007, Bam Margera threw caution to the wind and featured the planning and ceremony of his marriage to Missy Rothstein on Bam’s Unholy Union, despite MTV’s dismal track record with the relationships of the couples featured on its reality TV programming. In 2009, Bam was hospitalized after a four day drinking binge, which he said was sparked by his marital problems. In 2010, Bam told Howard Stern that, although they are not officially divorced, he and Missy live in separate cities and she is aware of his various girlfriends.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Jenni Pulos & Chris Elwood
Bravo’s Flipping Out is about decorator/house-flipper Jeff Lewis and his staff, who must put up with Lewis’ demanding personality due to his OCD. Two of his assistants—Pulos and Elwood—were married before they began working for Lewis. During the show’s second season, Lewis fired Elwood after a surveillance video revealed that he was shirking his responsibilities and not doing his job properly. Pulos divorced Elwood shortly after, citing the tape as “a factor in their breakup.”


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Katie Price & Peter Andre
The marriage of glamor model Katie Price (aka Jordan) and pop singer Peter Andre was a match made in reality TV heaven when they met while filming I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! in 2004. Audiences watched live as the couple fell in love. It was only natural for them that they continue their relationship on television, where they had a kid, got married, and had another kid while filming several one-off reality specials and eventually a series titled Katie & Peter. After three and a half years of marriage, the couple divorced, and while their breakup was not chronicled for television, the aftermath of it was with Price’s new show What Katie Did Next.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Kate & Jon Gosselin
The breakup of the Gosselins’ marriage dominated tabloid covers for a solid year, beginning in April 2009 when it was first reported that Jon was having an affair with a local woman. Perhaps the public was so consumed by the story because, unlike most reality TV couples, Jon and Kate were not famous before their show Jon & Kate Plus 8, a relatively mundane family show which featured the Gosselins raising their children—a set of twins and a set of sextuplets. The Gosselins’ brand, success, and entire reason for being (on television) was because of their family. Watching Jon’s misbehavior—the Ed Hardy shirts, the cigarettes, the late nights, the young women, the bikini parties in Vegas, the purchase of a two-seater car when he has eight children—play out in real-life was fascinating and completely antithetical to what TLC purported him to be. Jon blamed the media for “exploiting” his children in some kind of weird power play to get more money to appear on the reality show. Ultimately, he was kicked off the show and it was renamed Kate Plus 8. For her part, Kate never blamed reality television for any of their problems, but rather Jon, for being a selfish person.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Susie & Corey Feldman
Susie and Corey were married (by officiant MC Hammer) on the season finale of The Surreal Life in 2002. The returned to reality TV in 2007 for The Two Coreys, an A&E show which was originally intended to be a light-hearted account of Corey Haim moving in with the Feldmans, but spiraled into something completely different by the show’s second season, with Haim’s drug problem overt and out of control. Many scenes showed Haim lashing out at Susie Feldman. Corey Feldman refused to continue the project unless Haim got sober. (Sadly, Haim died of a drug overdose in March 2010.) In October 2009, Susie filed for divorce.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Jeana & Matt Keough
The Keoughs have the unfortunate privilege of being the first breakup in The Real Housewives franchise after they legally separated during the third season of The O.C. version of the show. Matt, a former major league baseball player, never liked the cameras and didn’t participate very much on the show. In interview segments, Jeana shared that Matt had a bad head injury that affected this personality, and later admitted that he struggled with alcoholism. In the summer of 2009, Matt was arrested for DUI and was later sentenced to eight months in jail. After the Keoughs’ money problems became public knowledge through the show, Jeana pulled out of the series.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

The Count & Countess de Lesseps
The next Housewives couple to split were the de Lesseps, from the New York City cast, which came as a shock to viewers as there were no signs of marital problems. In fact, the Count was barely featured on the show due to the amount he had to travel for work. It turns out that the couple had been living separately for years—he in Europe and she in New York—and that he had been carrying on with an Ethiopian princess, for whom he eventually left his wife.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Tamra & Simon Barney
Although theirs was the third divorce to occur in The Real Housewives universe, the demise of Tamra and Simon’s marriage was the first to actually play out fully on the show. We watched as they suffered from financial trouble, forcing them into a short sale of their home. We watched as Simon became more controlling. We saw Tamra attempt a last-ditch effort to save their relationship by unwisely having his name tattooed on her finger. Eventually, Simon filed for divorce and (along with his children) no longer participates on the show. However, the couple’s drama is still very much playing out in the public eye, as they release statements and contact the press about their alleged bad behavior.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Cat & Charles Ommanney
As part of the ill-fated D.C. cast of The Real Housewives (the first in the franchise to not be picked up for a second season) Cat’s husband had a very impressive job as the award-winning White House photographer for Newsweek. Admittedly, Charles’ job involves a lot of political skill, so it impacted his career negatively when his new wife signed on to a tawdry reality show. Before the first episode even aired, the couple split; Cat’s involvement with the show and association with the Salahis, the infamous White House crashers, negatively impacted Charles’ career. In an interview with The New York Times, Charles blamed the show for the dissolution of his marriage saying, “In a way, I was naïve and foolish to sign off on doing this. But, at the end of the day, it was innocent. I wanted happiness for someone I was in love with. I put all my reservations aside and said: ‘Go for it. Do it if it makes you happy.’ Then I regretted it. I lost touch with everyone, and mix that with my marriage falling apart and the show taking over, it was very sad.”


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

NeNe & Gregg Leakes
Much of season three of The Real Housewives of Atlanta focused on NeNe’s marital problems that were evidently sparked by her husband’s finances. The split seemed final, though, later in the season when NeNe learned that Gregg had given a radio interview in which he blamed his financial troubles on the amount of money that he had to spend to make NeNe appear wealthy in order to secure her a position on the show. She filed for divorce in June 2010, yet told Essence in December that she and Gregg were still legally together and living under the same roof, but hinted at the fact that they would, in fact, divorce, leading many to believe she was saving the drama for season four of the show.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Camille & Kelsey Grammer
It’s odd to think that Kelsey Grammer, a successful actor, would need or want to be involved with a reality show—particularly one that would expose his marriage, which had reportedly been sexless for many years. It’s also odd that while the show was filming, he would move to a different city and embark on an affair with a younger woman, for whom he eventually left his wife and married. But according to Camille, Kelsey had already emotionally checked out of the marriage, and pushed her into getting involved with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills as a distraction, saying, “He thought it would be good for me to do something that was separate from us being a couple.”


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Vicki & Donn Gunvalson
As the last remaining original cast member of the original incarnation of The Real Housewives, Vicki Gunvalson shocked viewers after she filed for divorce in October 2010. The news came after season five of her show, which showed Vicki and Donn’s relationship healthier than ever after the renewed their wedding vows for their 15th anniversary. Vicki blames the show for her marital problems.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Jennifer & Eric Williams
The problems that plagued the marriage of Jennifer and (former NBA player) Eric Williams—namely Eric’s infidelity and a possible love child—were broadcast on the first two seasons of VH1’s Basketball Wives. After endless talks between the couple of saving their marriage, Jennifer confirmed to Life & Style in February that she was filing for divorce, the drama of which can be expected to play out on the third season of the show, premiering later this month.


22 Families Affected By The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Leah Messer & Corey Simms
Messer and Simms have had a crazy two years. They became pregnant with twins after only dating for about six weeks, tried to make it work, but then broke up shortly after the birth of their daughters (one of whom is a special-needs child), all of which was chronicled on their episode of 16 & Pregnant. They reunited on Teen Mom 2, and got married in a camo-themed wedding on the season finale. However, just six months after getting married (and only three weeks after the wedding episode aired on MTV) Messer filed for divorce, making them the youngest reality show couple to break up, as well as being the shortest-lived reality show marriage.

May 2, 2011 Posted by | Advertising, Cheating, Child Exploitation, Child Labor, Couples, Danny Bonaduce, Dating, Divorce, Fame, Gosselin, Gossip, Greed, Housewives, Humor?, Pop Culture, Real Housewives of New Jersey, Real Housewives of NY, Reality TV, Reality TV Suicides, Rehab, RHNJ, RHNY, TLC, Workplace | Comments Off on DIVORCE and Reality TV: 22 families and counting

RIP Greg Giraldo, Tweets from his friends

I was very sad to hear of the passing of Greg Giraldo at age 44. I remember his short-lived sitcom and his appearances on Colin Quinn’s “Tough Crowd” before he became known as one of the Roast Comedians (along with Jeff Ross and Nick Dipolo).

Many of the people I follow on twitter are his friends. I had just happen to go to TMZ even before Harvey tweeted about the death.

denisleary Greg Giraldo: massively talented. Good guy. Heartbreaking.

TheDailyShowFan Moment of Zen – Our Moment of Greg Giraldo: The comedy world loses a good man and a great comic. http://bit.ly/bpQydM

RobRiggle RIP Greg Giraldo…. I’m so bummed out right now. You brought the funny man….

Joan_Rivers Greg Giraldo-what can I say? I’m very angry. What a waste of comedic talent. I liked him so much and am sorry for his children and family.

aishatyler HOLY CRAP. This is sudden and truly tragic, esp after the epic summer he had. http://on.mtv.com/9FrTQ1 #ripgreggiraldo

joelmchale RT @jimmykimmel: Greg Giraldo was a great and funny man http://vimeo.com/11839308

tiffanyrinehart So sad. Just saw him @ the last comic standing finale w/ kg RT @PopEater: Mourning the great comic talent Greg Giraldo http://bit.ly/bCV1FU

alexcharak RIP Greg Giraldo

pattonoswalt Just went way out of my way not to drive past Laugh Factory. If I see Giraldo’s name on that marquee, gonna lose it.

louisck Greg giraldo was a good guy. The kind of you’re always glad to see. Also a funny comic and person. He died today. Goodbye friend.

thebrianposehn Very sad to hear one of my favorite comics, Greg Giraldo didn’t pull through. Nothing but nice things to say about that guy. I’ll miss him.

bobsaget Greg Giraldo. Love and peace. So fucking funny.

pattonoswalt Really, Universe? Greg Giraldo? Fuck off.

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Greg Giraldo's last picture taken Sept. 24th

TMZ reports:

TMZ has learned … the comedy club where Greg Giraldo was scheduled to perform this weekend is now putting together plans for a memorial instead, featuring a tribute to the late comedian’s life.

The manager at Governor’s Comedy Club in Levittown, NY tells TMZ, the memorial is scheduled for Friday at 10:30 PM … exactly when Greg was supposed to take the stage.

We’re told the club will be playing Greg’s DVDs on the televisions — there won’t be any admission fee … and all donations will go to Greg’s family.

The manager tells us, “We just want to commemorate his life.” As we previously reported, Greg passed away yesterday … five days after he was hospitalized for an overdose.

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Aisha Tyler, Comedy Central, Denis Leary, Fame, Greg Giraldo, Jimmy Kimmel, Louis CK, Sitcoms | Comments Off on RIP Greg Giraldo, Tweets from his friends

Kathy Griffin managed to get herself in the headlines TWICE last week!!

Way to go Kathy!

Ok. I forgive you for your temporary attachment to Kate Gosselin and I assume your stand-up proves that you were kissing-up for material. Mean, Kathy, so mean. Kate Gosselin is a single mother of 8, count ’em, 8 children. You have to know when she laughed at your spoof she was burning up inside. You had lunch with Kate and “the bodyguard she’s banging” and, I imagine that Kate didn’t think that was funny one bit.
You are forgiven, as if you care.

Kathy used Levi Johnston for a publicity stunt. She first took him to the Teen Choice awards (after all, he’s still a teenager) and he was on her show this season. Now that Levi and Bristol are re-united, Kathy gets the chance to show her heartbreak. Poor Kathy.

In other Griffiin news, Kathy said that Scott Brown’s daughters, you know, the ones that he tried to pimp out at his victory speech, were prostitutes. So, the man is “speaking out” and making it a bigger deal than he had to. Now Kathy tweeted this last night:

haha,Scott Brown is the Spencer Pratt of the US Senate.THIS is a great time 2 come c me live. OF COURSE I’m lovin all the publicity LOVIN IT

. . . . . oh how I wish I could see her live.

Today on the View Elisabeth Hasselbeck is blowing a gasket. She called Kathy “Scum.” Smart move, Hasselbeck. Smart move. I don’t think you can have a battle of wits with Kathy. Good luck with that.



July 19, 2010 Posted by | Fame, Humor?, Kathy Griffin, Marriage, Politics, Reality TV | Comments Off on Kathy Griffin managed to get herself in the headlines TWICE last week!!

EXCLUSIVE: GFTG reveals the big secret!!

Money Can’t Buy You Class … But Did It Buy You A Sex Change Operation?


Dear Countess – oops, I mean LuAnn de Lesseps: I know that money can buy YOU hair extensions, a reality show on Bravo, and even a new badly sung dance single, but I’ve had a realization about something else that you may have bought.

After watching your video I realized that you look and, more importantly, sound like the world’s most believable drag queen. I mean, it is just eerie how I never put it together until now.

Click here for more of GFTG hysterical investigation:

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Divorce, Fame, Housewives | Comments Off on EXCLUSIVE: GFTG reveals the big secret!!

The High Price of Fame: Why seek it out???

Our Opinion: The high price of fame


THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER
Posted Jun 30, 2009 @ 12:06 AM

IN 1977, it was Elvis Presley. Thirty years later, Anna Nicole Smith.We don’t know yet if Michael Jackson had a similarly enabling cadre of hangers-on who helped hasten his death last week at age 50, but there’s a common thread regardless. From Elvis to Anna Nicole, from Britney Spears to Jon and Kate Gosselin, we’ve seen countless times the power of fame to destroy lives.

EVEN IF JACKSON’S death turns out to be natural, his life was anything but. Though he was preparing for an amazing series of sold-out concerts in London that could have restored his show business credentials to a new generation, Michael Jackson was best known to those born after the mid-’80s for his freakish behavior and legal travails. If they knew his music at all, their introduction is as likely to have come from a “Weird Al” Yankovic song parody than from the Michael Jackson original.

Yet Jackson’s fame seemed to grow as his musical presence receded.

Unlike Elvis, whose death in August 1977 came as a sudden shock, Jackson’s bizarre decline had been painstakingly documented for years.

HE WAS A tabloid favorite — his chimpanzee, his Peter Pan fixation, his ever-changing appearance, his marriages and child molestation charges — whose descent into weirdness came just as we received the ability to follow every step of it. Many others have followed.

From the ever-more-aggressive corps of paparazzi to Web sites like tmz.com to tabloid TV shows and instant news tools like Twitter, the new media have taken stardom to both new heights and new lows. The famous now can be more widely known than ever, enjoying more adulation than the stars of previous generations. They also can never hide, and examples of the wreckage caused by the ever-present spotlight litter the pop culture landscape.

On the reality show “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” America got to watch a marriage disintegrate as six 5-year-olds and twin 9-year-olds figured as bit players. The show scored its highest rating, drawing 10.6 million viewers, in the episode last week announcing Jon and Kate Gosselin’s separation. While damning the Gosselins for exploiting their situation for a paycheck, America couldn’t help but tune in. (Anna Nicole Smith, too, opened up the train wreck of her celebrity life on a reality series from 2002-04.)

IT’S HARD to advocate sympathy for those whose troubles derive from the kind of riches and public adoration none of us will ever know.

It’s even harder in Jackson’s case because of the child molestation allegations that hardly faded after his acquittal in court.

But there was something genuinely sad in the contrast between clips of the ebullient little boy belting out “ABC” and those of the freakish, pale, fragile figure we saw over and over last week. We may never know if Jackson’s untimely death was the price of his fame. If so, there is one question only Michael Jackson himself could ever answer: Was it worth it?

http://www.sj-r.com/editorials/x488818051/Our-Opinion-The-high-price-of-fame

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Two Kings: Was Michael Jackson the Elvis for a new generation?

by The Associated Press

Friday June 26, 2009, 7:19 AM

The Associated Press

HILLEL ITALIE
The Associated Press

(AP) — NEW YORK – Michael Jackson didn’t want to be just a superstar. Like the Beatles, he wanted to be the biggest, the king. He wanted to topple the reigning man with the crown, Elvis.

In life and in death, there was Elvis.

“It’s just so weird. He even married Elvis’ daughter,” said author-music critic Greil Marcus, who wrote at length about Presley in his acclaimed cultural history, “Mystery Train.”

Elvis Presley overdosed-in his bathroom-on prescription drugs in 1977 at 42, his bloated, glazed middle age a cautionary tale to rock stars and other celebrities. Jackson died Thursday at 50, rushed from his Los Angeles home and pronounced dead at the UCLA Medical Center.

The death shocked more than surprised. While endless fame seemed to inflate Elvis like helium, Jackson’s fame seemed to scrub the flesh and wear into his bones until you could almost see him shiver.

Like Elvis, Jackson was once beautiful, outrageous, a revolutionary without politics who shook down the walls between black and white. He had the hits, the style, the ego, the talent. He was the King of Pop and he needed only to fill in the life: He married Elvis’ daughter. He bought the rights to some of Elvis’ songs. Elvis owned Graceland, its name a symbol for a deliverance the singer prayed for until the end of his life. Jackson had Neverland, a fantasy for a child-man for whom money meant the chance to live in a world of his own.

He did, and did not, want to be like Elvis.

In “Moon Walk,” a memoir published in 1988, Jackson insisted Elvis was not important to him growing up and that he was unhappy to learn a song he recorded with his brothers, “Heartbreak Hotel,” shared the name of Presley’s first national hit.

“I swear that was a phrase that came out of my head and I wasn’t thinking of any other song when I wrote it,” he wrote. “The record company printed it on the cover as ‘This Place Hotel,’ because of the Elvis Presley connection. As important as he was to music, black as well as white, he just wasn’t an influence on me. I guess he was too early for me. Maybe it was timing more than anything else.

“By the time our song had come out, people thought that if I kept living in seclusion the way I was, I might die the way he did. The parallels aren’t there as far as I’m concerned and I was never much for scare tactics. Still, the way Elvis destroyed himself interests me, because I don’t ever want to walk those grounds myself.”

http://www.masslive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2009/06/two_kings_was_michael_jackson.html

June 30, 2009 Posted by | Death, Fame, Gosselin, Gossip, Greed, Reality TV | , , , | Comments Off on The High Price of Fame: Why seek it out???