Not all celebrities boast happy family lives. In fact, some of the rich-and-famous definitely drew the short end of the stick when it came to parental units. Whether they were abusive, exploitative, or just plain tactless, these parents give their celebrity children good reasons to avoid family gatherings.
Adorable child star turned indie darling Macaulay Culkin and his seven siblings were groomed for stardom by their father. As little Macaulay’s manager, father Kit Culkin became one of the most notorious “stage dads” in the biz. Kit hand-picked Macaulay’s movie roles (without any input from Macaulay), signing his little boy up for an increasingly stressful amount of work. Kit refused to allow Macaulay to defend his friend Michael Jackson when Jackson faced serious child molestation charges, though Macaulay himself had spent many nights at the Neverland ranch unharmed. As Macaulay rose to stardom, Kit’s demands on the studios became more and more outrageous, endangering Macaulay’s career. Although his abrasive nature did land Macaulay’s role in The Good Son, he was a power-hungry man with disregard for anything resembling family values. Kit drank excessively, and his relationship with Macaulay’s mom crumbled. A vicious custody battle ensued over the mealtickets (Macaulay and his siblings); Kit spent so much on lawyers that his famous children lived in near poverty. Macaulay, still a teenager, took both his parents to court to gain control of his earnings. He paid off his mother’s debt, then cut off contact with his father.
The hard-partying lead singer of Hole and wife of the late, great Kurt Cobain was criminally neglected as a child (no surprise there). Courtney Love’s mother was Linda Carroll, an heiress and therapist who raised Love among the communes and counter-culture of Oregon in the late 60’s and early 70’s. As a girl, Love was called “Pee Girl”, ” by her schoolmates because nobody ever washed her clothes. As an adult, Love is called “Pee Girl” by the media because nobody ever washed her raging drug addiction and rapidly growing mental health problems. Meanwhile, her mother Carroll married, divorced and remarried three times. Carroll sent Love away to boarding schools and even left the country for several years, abandoning Love to the care of first a family friend, then an ex-stepfather. At the age of 12, Love landed in a juvenile correction facility before spending her early teenaged years between boarding and reform schools. Her relationship with her birth father Hank Harrison was equally awful, consisting mostly of Harrison giving his underaged daughter drugs. At 16, Love gained legal emancipation from her negligent mother. The name of Hole’s most recent album, “Nobody’s Daughter,” pretty much says it all.
The daughter of Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand, Angelina Jolie came from good Hollywood stock. Jolie saw her parents divorce while she was still a baby amidst accusations that her father was mentally abusive and sexually unfaithful. Jolie’s various estrangements and reconciliations with her father have often made tabloids, and one reconciliation found Voight and Jolie appearing together in one of the Tomb Raider films. However, Voight seems to have difficulty keeping his mouth shut when it comes to publicly expressing opinions on his daughter’s life, and when Voight informed Access Hollywood that he felt his daughter had “serious mental problems” Jolie cut off contact with him for years. Voight continued to try to send his uber-famous daughter messages from the red carpet, once famously showing just how much he cared by accidentally referring to Jolie’s daughter Zahara as “Shakira” on film. Of late, father and daughter appear to have tentatively buried the hatchet, and Voight was recently photographed hanging with the Jolie-Pitt clan in Italy.
The late Gary Coleman, child-star of “Diff’rent Strokes” fame, earned $100,000 per episode at the height of his career. Unfortunately, his blue-collar adoptive parents, Edmonia Sue and W.G. Coleman, pocketed most of it. In 1989, Gary Coleman embarked on a 5-year-long lawsuit against his parents and former business adviser over misappropriation of his $3.8 million trust fund. He won a $1,280,000 judgment in 1993.
Despite having worked steadily for most of his young life, Coleman’s adulthood was spent trying to eke out a living doing guest appearances on television and working as a security guard. Coleman remained estranged from his parents until his death in 2010.
“One Day at a Time” star Mackenzie Phillips is the daughter of singer John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas and his first wife, Susan Adams. According to Mackenzie’s tell-all memoir, High On Arrival, she first tried cocaine at age 11 with her father. John Phillips apparently fed her drugs throughout her teenage years. She also claims to have had an incestuous relationship with her father, which began at age 19 when she awoke from a drug-induced stupor to find him doing the deed on top of her and apparently just went along with it. Phillips claims the relationship lasted 10 years, until she found herself pregnant and her father paid for the abortion. Her father denied the accusations up until his death, and the rest of the family divided on who they believed. Though Mackenzie often defends her father, insisting that he was “damaged” and he meant her no harm, she also admits to having a touch of “Stolkholm Syndrome” when it comes to her dad.
Michael and Dina Lohan were vile parents long before little Lindsay became a superstar. Michael did jail time for insider trading, was arrested for assault and a DUI, and may have fathered another woman’s child. Michael and Dina separated and reunited twice during Lindsay’s lifetime before finally divorcing in 2007. As a child, Lindsay had to listen to their private mudslinging, but when she became famous they took to maligning each other publicly. To top it off, Michael and Dina shamelessly leapt onto Lindsay’s famous coattails; each parent separately lobbied for their own reality show! And not because they were particularly interesting — everything each of of them does is in an attempt to make more money off of their daughter’s success. Dina played the enabler by accompanying her alcoholic and drug-addicted daughter to the hottest nightclubs, while attention-hungry Michael went so low as to tape record his private conversations with Lindsay so he could sell them to the press. Lindsay finally cut off contact with her “ex-father” in 2009 but he continues to worm his way into her life.
At the height of her fame, 80’s poptart Tiffany found herself fighting for control of her career and money against her own mother, Janie Williams. Williams divorced Tiffany’s father when Tiffany was very young, and Williams’ second marriage ended when teenaged Tiffany accused her stepfather of “peeping” at her. Tiffany was only 16 when her song “I Think We’re Alone Now” went to number one. Her mother, as legal guardian, regretted the deal she’d signed with Tiffany’s manager, which she felt exploited her daughter. On Mar. 8, 1988, Tiffany left home for a recording session and didn’t return. Tiffany’s mother filed a missing person report. She did not know that Tiffany was off doing some filing of her own — with Los Angeles Juvenile Court for legal emancipation. Williams refused to budge, and the suit was eventually dropped. Tiffany moved in with her grandmother.
La Toya Jackson
Despite his being the daddy of all stage fathers, most of Joe Jackson’s kids have been unbelievably forgiving. However, daughter La Toya called father Joe out in her autobiography La Toya: Growing Up in the Jackson Family. In the book, La Toya revealed that yes, their father was abusive and a womanizer. She inferred that there may have been some sexual abuse. She also had harsh words for her mother’s parenting style, claiming that Katherine was controlling and a racist against Jews. She recounted how their strict Jehovah’s Witness upbringing kept them isolated. Though La Toya’s sisters, Janet and Reba, publicly denied any abuse, brother Michael confirmed her reports. La Toya grew up to marry an abusive husband and was estranged from her family for years. Eventually, La Toya left her husband, and in 2003 she announced that Joe had apologized to her for her harsh upbringing and all was forgiven.
Rapper Eminem, born Marshall Mathers III, was abandoned by his father at just 18 months old. In 2002, his mother Debbie Nelson filed a 7 million dollar lawsuit against Eminiem, claiming defamation from his song lyrics. She then wrote a tell-all book repudiating her son’s claims that she was an alcoholic and drug addict and that they lived in poverty when Eminem was a boy. Debbie tried to turn the tables by painting a picture of Eminem as a bratty, spoiled child. However, while on her “deathbed” from breast cancer in 2009, Nelson publicly begged for reconciliation and Eminem paid off her medical bills.
In the early 90’s sitcom-star and funny lady Roseanne Barr began to claim that she, as well as her sisters and brother, had been physically and sexually abused by parents Helen and Jerome Barr. Barr’s first memoir mentioned none of this; she claims to have repressed the memories until later in her life. Remix! Barr penned a second memoir (a do-over) which exposed the abuse and its effect on her life, including what she says is multiple personality disorder. Barr’s siblings and parents denied the charges, hired a high-profile lawyer, and publicly called Barr a psychopathic liar. Lie detector tests used on Roseanne’s parents came back with negative results. Even so, Roseanne Barr remained estranged from her family for the next 10 years.
Now one of the richest women in America, Oprah Winfrey came from a dirt-poor background. Born to unwed teenager Vernita Lee and a soldier, Vernon Winfrey, Oprah spent her babyhood in the care of her grandmother. From ages six to 13, Oprah stayed with her mother and younger siblings. Her mother often worked and paid little attention to her daughter. Oprah claims she was molested by a cousin who was babysitting her when she was nine, again by a male friend of her mother’s, and yet again by an uncle. When Oprah began acting out, her mother sent her to live with her strict father and stepmother. Oprah got pregnant at 14 and gave birth to a stillborn boy. According to celebrity biographer Kitty Kelley, Oprah’s stories of her dirt-poor upbringing are falsehoods. Kelley also claims that Vernon is not Oprah’s real father. Vernon’s own plans to write a book about his daughter were nipped in the bud when Oprah found out through a reporter. Luckily for him, Vernon found an outlet for his opinions on Oprah’s life in Ms. Kelley’s book, where he expressed his disgust with Oprah’s relationship to girlfriend Gayle King and boyfriend Steadman Graham, and lamented that Oprah doesn’t give her family much money.
Child star and daughter of actor Ryan O’Neal and actress Joanna Cook Moore, Tatum O’Neal dealt with some seriously bad parenting according to her autobiography A Paper Life. After her parents divorced, Tatum and her younger brother lived in squalor and neglect with their alcoholic, drug-addicted mother. Tatum claims to have been molested by one of her mother’s male “friends” at the age of six, and again by her father’s drug dealer as a 12-year-old. As a young girl, Tatum moved to Malibu to live with her famous father, who she alleges was physically and emotionally abusive. She claims Ryan “slugged” her the night she was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Paper Moon, and neither parent attended the ceremony when she won. When Tatum was a teenager, her father took her to clubs where they drank and did drugs. On vacation in Europe, she caught her dad having sex with her best friend at the time, Melanie Griffith. The incident prompted Tatum to attempt suicide. Naturally, Ryan publicly and vehemently denied his daughter’s allegations.
Self-proclaimed former “supermodel” and reality television trainwreck Janice Dickinson says her father, Ray Dickinson, was a pedophile. Though she claims to have escaped the sexual abuse which was centered on her older sister, she says she was a victim of her father’s physical and emotional abuse and her mother’s refusal to stop him. In her hilariously titled autobiography, No Lifeguard on Duty, she claimed that she might be responsible for her father’s death because she purposefully threw away his heart medication while he was having the heart attack that killed him. Oops!
Actress Jennifer Aniston is the daughter of actors John Aniston and Nancy Dow. Money issues were at the heart of the family’s early problems, but when John finally found work as a soap star, he walked out on the family to be with another woman. Jennifer’s relationship with her narcissistic mother Nancy crumbled when Nancy gossiped about Jennifer on a talk show, prompting Jennifer to cut off contact. Nancy further alienated Jennifer by publishing a book titled From Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir which exploited her estranged relationship with Jennifer. Though Jennifer and her mother have somewhat reconciled, the truce seems to be an uneasy one.
Actress Drew Barrymore, daughter of John and Jaid Barrymore, was a famous child star who spent her wonder years inappropriately clubbing at Studio 54 and Limelight. By the age of the 12 she was a full-blown alcoholic and drug addict who had to be admitted into rehab. Her hard-drinking father left before Drew was born, and he was largely absent in her life, except to occasionally call and ask her for money. As for Drew’s mother Jaid, she was ridiculously permissive and mostly used little Drew to get into hot clubs. After yet another stint in rehab, Drew filed for and was granted legal emancipation from her parents at the age of 15. Still, Jaid tried to ride her famous daughter’s coattails. Jaid’s post-emacipation stunts include posing naked in Playboy only a few issues after Drew did the same, and selling a bunch of Drew’s childhood mementos on Ebay.