8 horrid Hollywood parents
Constance Droganes, entertainment writer, CTV.ca
Published Wednesday, November 7, 2007 1:44PM EST
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 6:58PM EDT
If Hollywood bestowed an Oscar for good parenting, maybe today's second-rate celeb procreators would work at rearing their kids the way they bust a gut to burn a Big Mac off at the gym.
Thanks to her recent troubles, it's not likely Britney Spears will top today's list of admirable nominees. But she is not alone. Hollywood has been dotted with deplorable dads and crummy mummies as long as gossip rags have rattled the press engines.
From Bing Crosby to Ryan O'Neal, shoddy celebrity parenting has lurked beneath those glossy magazines showcasing perfect stars and their seemingly blissful homes. Yes, what's real and unreal back at the Hollywood homestead isn't always so easy to discern.
Welcome to Hollywood.
Ironically, it's in Hollywood movies that troubled parents like Spears can find some exceptional role models: Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962) for one. In 2003 the American Film Institute voted this stalwart, devoted but quietly loving dad the #1 greatest hero of American film. Trifle with this dedicated dad's kids and he'd run to their defence faster than he'd slap a criminal behind bars.
There are caring, middle-class marvels like "Mrs. Miniver" (1946) and her husband Clem (Greer Garson and Walter Pigeon) and poor but honest parents like Ezra and Orry Baxter (Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman) in "The Yearling" (1946).
There are whiny but well-meaning dads like Stanley Banks in "Father of the Bride" (portrayed by Spencer Tracy (1950) and Steve Martin (1991), or Ray Barone (aka Ray Romano) in "Everybody Loves Raymond."
There are selfless film moms like Meryl Streep in "One True Thing" (1998), Susan Sarandon in "Stepmom" (1998) or Julia Roberts in "Erin Brockovich" (2000) who, in the face of death or poverty, still know enough to do the right thing.
If Britney's troubles continue, transforming her from a sweet, messed-up, pop star mom to a booze-comforted Mrs. Robinson, only time will tell. Maybe Spears' parents failed her, being so blinded by her money that they neglected to pass along some solid life basics? Maybe their conduct was exemplary and Spears' antics are all a result of addiction?
As in any good Hollywood cliff-hanger, no one really knows the whole story until the last frame finishes. Let's hope this Hollywood roundup of faulty fathers and miserable moms will help Britney -- and us -- get the right parenting picture.
The offence: alleged years of bizarre, discipline-crazy child abuse.
The nasty details: Mommy dearest...not! As readers discovered in Christina Crawford's book "Mommie Dearest" (1978), this Hollywood legend had some serious mothering issues. In this expos� -- one that spawned the 1981 Faye Dunaway flick -- audiences get the real dirt on Joan Crawford's mothering M.O. She lavished daughter Christina with birthday gifts, then forced her to donate all but one to an orphanage as a studio press op. She hacked off the girl's hair for using makeup and went "Dog Day Afternoon" on Christina's clothes with a wire coat hanger.
Crummy mummy legacy: Crawford's bizarre, often-times enraged disciplinary antics morphed into pop culture gold. They inspired a song by Blue Oyster Cult, jabs in MAD Magazine and even the video game "Destroy all Humans," in which a woman's scanned mind screams out, "Damn you Crawford! You're not my Mommie Dearest! Why don't you love me like the aliens do?" Yes, Joan, you're still Hollywood's biggest, baddest mother of them all.
The offence: alleged years of physical and emotional child abuse.
The nasty details: Bing Crosby seemed the ultimate good guy in all those jaunty, carefree "On the Road" movies with Bob Hope. Eldest son Gary Crosby would not agree. In 1983 Bing's disgruntled offspring released the sensational tell-all "Going My Way," a book that turned the charismatic crooner into "Daddy Dearest" faster than Bing could swing one of his beloved golf clubs.
Faulty father fame: From smacking around his first brood of sons (Bing was married twice), to inspiring bouts of depression in sons Lindsay and Dennis (both of whom shot themselves in the head in 1989 and 1991, respectively), Gary Crosby let the dirty family laundry rip in this tell-all. Daddy Bing may have been the Justin Timberlake of the '20s. For his late son Gary, crooner Bing was the king of faulty fathers.
The offence: showing her daughter Drew how to party.
The nasty details: Drew Barrymore's Playboy-posing mom certainly showed her daughter how to have a good time. Incredible though it may seem to parents who accompany their kids to daycare, the park or an occasional ride on a merry-go-round, Jaid dragged this kid to Studio 54 and ChinaClub before she'd barely ditched her diapers. With this party girl for inspiration, Tinseltown's golden tot was drinking by age nine, smoking marijuana at 10 and snorting cocaine at 13.
Crummy mummy legacy: Estranged from her daughter when Drew won emancipation at age 15, the "tortured" pair reconciled after the shooting of "Riding in Cars with Boys" (2001). Actress Drew suddenly saw her mom as a working single woman abandoned by an abusive, alcoholic drug addict (aka John Drew Barrymore). True though that may be, Jaid can't be beat for partying like it was 1999 -- and showing Drew all the wrong moves.
The offence: marrying his one-time stepdaughter.
The nasty details: If Plato were putting pen to paper today, don't you think he'd see that marrying your own stepchild spells big trouble? That worry didn't stop Woody Allen in 1992. The jig was up between the famed director and stepdaughter Soon Yi-Previn when Woody's ex-wife Mia Farrow discovered nude photos of her new "competition" in Allen's apartment. Ouch!
Faulty father fame: If Bill Clinton had a stepdaughter and dumped Madame Hillary for Missy X, would it have enraged the world the way Woody did Mia wrong? Who can say? Then 57, Allen declared he'd found true love with 22-year-old Soon Yi and it whipped the world's media into a frenzy. Love may conquer all, and film buffs may love this man's talent. But cherry-picking a new bedmate from the proverbial playpen takes this father figure thing too far.
The offence: shooting heroin while she was pregnant.
The nasty details: In 1992, Vanity Fair reported that Courtney Love was using heroin while she was carrying her daughter Francis Bean. Whaaaa?
Crummy mummy legacy: The troubled Love denied this 1992 story, claiming that she went cold turkey before conceiving her baby girl. Poor, poor, drug-addled Courtney. Sad though it has been to watch this train wreck of a celeb come undone, knowingly frying your brain while you are pregnant gives new meaning to the expression "dumb blonde."
The offence: a litany of child abuse that could make him Hollywood's worst father.
The nasty details: Ryan O'Neal may have seemed the picture of loving kindness in the 1970 film "Love Story." Not so to children Griffin and Tatum. O'Neal's fathering skills, or lack thereof, are as legendary in Hollywood as this aging hunk's temper. In February of 2007 O'Neal was held on suspicion of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon - one the 65-year-old reportedly fired at his son Griffin, 42. Get the picture?
Among his many parental offences, O'Neal bashed his son's teeth out when the boy was 14. When Tatum became the youngest Oscar winner in history, this "Daddy Dearest" invited her to share his bed (though nothing sexual transpired) and made her his companion on Hollywood's party circuit. After being assaulted by one of O'Neal's drug dealers, good old dad accused the teen of leading him on. But wait! When Tatum tried to slit her wrists, this deplorable dad told her she cut the wrong way.
The faulty father legacy: Two messed-up kids. A police record that keeps on giving -- trouble, that is. Priceless Ryan. Just plain priceless.
Gloria Morgan (mother of heiress Gloria Vanderbilt)
The offence: treating her luggage with more love than little Gloria.
The Nasty details: While Gloria Morgan wasn't a Hollywood actress, she and her deplorable mothering skills fueled gossip columns in the '30s the way Jennifer Aniston's butt bounces from sandy beaches to tabloid covers today.
Known for preferring the Euro-trash high-life to caring for her daughter, in the early 1930's, Morgan became the world's most notorious mom. Tired of caring for a kid that got in the way of prowling Paris' nightlife, Morgan dumped her child anywhere she could. When the press ranted that little Gloria could become the next child, after the Lindbergh baby, to be kidnapped, this "Mommie Dearest" was as comforting to this poor little rich girl Gloria as a shot of peroxide on an open wound.
Crummy mummy legacy: This broad's daughter deserves some serious props. She, unlike Morgan, took parenting more seriously. She's Anderson Cooper's mom. Need we say more?
The offence: abandoning daughter Carrie Fisher when she was three and scarring her for life.
The Nasty details: Singer Eddie Fisher may have been the hottest thing to hit the airwaves in the early '50s. But parenting wasn't a high note for this dud of a dad. He married America's sweetheart, Debbie Reynolds, then unceremoniously dumped her and baby daughter Carrie for luscious Liz Taylor. According the Carrie, this guy was about as inspiring a dad as a Hun at a MacHappy birthday party.
The faulty father legacy: A daughter who turned to drugs for the highs, this louse of a father could never provide.
Worst movie moms:
- Mrs. Bates, the notorious dead mother of crazed lunatic Norman Bates in "Psycho" (1960). Movie mom M.O.: Humiliating her son so continuously that he needs her corpse close by to keep the mommy magic from fading
- Lilly Dillon, the cold-blooded con artist (aka Anjelica Houston) audiences loved to hate in "The Grifters" (1990). Movie mom M.O.: Shoves a glass in son's face and slashes his jugular vein.
- Beth Jarrett, the emotionally frigid mom Mary Tyler Moore plays in "Ordinary People" (1980). Movie mom M.O.: Absolutely no physical contact with her son, blaming him for surviving the brother she preferred and the grinding yelps she spits at him for bleeding onto her nice bathroom floor
- Deirdre Burroughs, the needy, emotionally impaired poet Annette Bening portrays in "Running with Scissors" (2002). Movie mom M.O.: Get your kid to applaud your lousy, unpublished poems and then push him aside the second he asks you to fend for him
Worst movie dads:
- Jack Torrence, the crazed, axe-wielding dad who made "The Shining" (1980) and Jack Nicholson pop culture classics. Movie dad M.O.: Grab the sharpest blade available, terrorize wife and son before hunting them down and banish them to the afterlife
- Bull Meechum, the emotionally repressed military man in "The Great Santini" (1979). Thanks to Robert Duvall's portrayal, Bull's macho parental skills could surely inspire patricide. Movie dad M.O.: Treat your kids like they're army recruits and hate their guts because they might, God forbid, beat you at basketball
- Anthony Cooper, the ruthless con man (actor Kevin Tighe) on "Lost." TV dad M.O.: Push your son out an 8th floor window, paralyze the poor bastard and then show up on the island wanting to abscond with his kidney
- Darth Vader, the worst dad in the cosmos as every "Star Wars" flick proves. Movie dad M.O.: Seek out Luke Skywalker, zap his son's life force and then crush him into submission.
Any other bad showbiz parenting offenders we've overlooked?