Corey Feldman seems to have led multiple lives. One common thread, however, has been Feldman’s insistence that he was a victim of a Hollywood group that preyed on young actors like himself. There are believers and those who say he’s made the whole thing up.
It’s high time we dig into these Feldman facts and decide for ourselves.
Corey Feldman was born on July 16, 1971, in Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley. His dad was Bob Feldman, who was a record producer and his mom was a cocktail waitress at a Playboy Club. Sheila Feldman had Corey at a very young age, and her husband left her mostly alone with the baby.
Mr. Feldman was busy getting his career together—but there was something suspicious about the way he did it.
Feldman’s father was in a band called Strangeloves. Weirdly enough, they told everyone they were from Australia—which was a flat-out lie. Not only was he supposed to be Australian, but he was also supposed to be a rich sheep farmer. Despite these falsehoods, the band wasn’t completely unsuccessful.
They were the writers and the original performers of what went on to become the Bow Wow Wow hit “I Want Candy”. His father was doing okay, but his mother wanted more...and Feldman would prove to be her golden ticket.
Feldman’s mom was home alone a lot with baby Corey, and this led her to some strange ideas. She looked down at her adorable, young child and suddenly saw what she had on her hands: a money-making machine. By the time Feldman was three, she was already sending him out on auditions.
However, his mother thought he could use some improvements.
Corey Feldman’s mother saw a future for her son in show business. But she also thought he needed a makeover—that he needed to be blonde. For this reason, she bleached his hair. She also thought that her son was a little pudgy, so she did something even worse: She gave him diet pills.
According to Feldman, the diet pills were full of caffeine and he remembers perspiring a lot and feeling really nervous. Well, nerves or not, the aspiring child began landing roles.
Corey's first on-camera experience was an ad for McDonald’s, and from then on, his career snowballed. He ended up starring in over 100 commercials—all before becoming an adult. But it wasn’t just TV commercials, Feldman was soon getting cast in TV shows and even some movies.
You’d think that growing up in front of the cameras would have been loads of fun. Sadly, it was the opposite: it was a nightmare.
Feldman’s mom wanted her son to do more and more work—and this desire made her treat her son badly. The diet pills apparently weren’t working, so Mom took to calling Feldman names like “fat” or “ugly”. There was, however, a stunning secret as to why the diet pills weren’t working: Feldman was selling them off to other kids for pocket money.
When Feldman became a teenager, his mother's behavior became even worse. At night, she’d sneak into her son’s room and rub Clearasil all over his face. Apparently, he’d gotten a few pimples. A little acne, however, was the least of Feldman’s worries.
Feldman later said that there was more to his mother's bad behavior. He also alleged that she struck him. When asked what he’d done to deserve the punishment, she told him it was for “general principles”. Years later, when she’d changed her name to Sheila Kenner, she said that none of the things Feldman said about the beatings were true.
This was becoming a strange parental version of “he said she said”. One thing we do know for sure, however, is that Feldman worked—he worked a lot.
Even if the beatings weren’t real—and I’m not saying they weren’t—Feldman had something more to say about his rotten childhood: His parents treated him like a slave.
The way Feldman sees it, he was a child working almost non-stop and none of it was his choice. In any other profession—outside of show business—people would see this as slavery. Just because he was raking in the big bucks, everyone thought it was okay. And it wasn’t just that he was working too much. It was also that he was appearing in the kinds of movies that he was too young to even watch.
In spite of his horrible home life, Feldman’s career flourished. One film that put his face front and center was the very kid-unfriendly Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. Even though Feldman was barely a teenager, he had an incredible amount of acting experience. For this reason, Feldman sometimes came across as…well… a huge pain to work with.
One person who wouldn’t put up with Feldman’s antics was Ted White: the man playing the horrifying masked villain, Jason. Feldman was about to learn that this was the wrong man to get on the wrong side of.
The truth was that White didn’t like Feldman at all, and he saved up his animosity for a critical moment. In a very suspenseful scene, White—as the terrifying Jason—is supposed to put his hand through a window and drag a horrified Tommy (Feldman) out of the cabin.
When the cameras rolled, Feldman was waiting for White to grab him through the window. When White didn’t grab him, Feldman thought it was a cut. Boy, was he wrong.
It turned out that White was waiting a little longer just to freak Feldman out. When White did eventually grab Feldman through the window, the young actor was truly terrified. Feldman screamed in horror—don’t forget he was just 13 years old—and it made the scene much more authentic.
Doesn’t it seem, though, that Feldman was a little young to be having on-set feuds with much older—and potentially dangerous—actors? You bet he was.
While filming Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Feldman was having trouble with not only his co-star White but also the director. Director Joseph Zito had already let one of his stars get hypothermia while filming a lake scene. For this, and other reasons, Feldman didn’t like the director one bit—and he had a way to get his revenge.
Near the end of the movie, Feldman’s character gets to attack Jason with a machete. To shoot the scene, Jason was just a pile of sandbags. To Feldman the actor, however, it was 100 percent Zito. I guess this was Feldman’s version of method acting. Feldman was growing up fast, and it was going to lead to all kinds of trouble.
Corey Feldman’s father saw that his son was growing up too fast and came up with a solution. He thought his son needed a personal assistant. Suddenly, a man named Jon Grissom was everywhere that Corey went. Feldman later wrote that Grissom seemed to always know the right thing to say to make him laugh.
When he thought about it later, Feldman felt that maybe Grissom had purposefully studied him and was copying his every move. Which sounds a little creepy to me. We’ll soon see that Grisson was the worst person for Feldman to be in close proximity to.
Feldman's father certainly blew it by hiring a guy like Grissom to hang out with his son. For this reason, and probably many others, Feldman decided what he needed for his own protection: a divorce. Feldman wanted nothing to do with either of his parents, so he applied for emancipation from both his mom and dad.
Feldman was finally an independent entity, and he would be able to choose the roles he wanted and spend his hard-earned money any way he wanted. Sadly, that’s not what happened.
When Feldman applied for emancipation from his parents, he said his net worth was about $1 million. He’d already made seven feature films and had more than a dozen TV appearances under his belt. When the court finally allowed the divorce, Feldman said there was only $40,000 left in his account.
His parents had ripped him off. The reality of his life slowly dawned on Feldman: He wasn’t about to get a break from his grueling schedule. He had to keep on working just to survive. Luckily, some big roles were coming his way.
Steven Spielberg was looking for a whole bunch of child actors for his upcoming film, ET. Feldman was on Spielberg’s radar as a competent child actor, and he wanted Feldman to play the main character's best friend. If you’re having trouble remembering Feldman in ET don’t worry: he wasn’t in it.
Sadly, the writers had to cut his character from the film in a rewrite of the script. Feldman had missed the chance of a lifetime to work with the hottest director in Hollywood. Luckily, Spielberg ended up being an anomaly: a Hollywood nice guy.
It turned out that Spielberg really had a heart. He felt bad for cutting Feldman out of ET, so he offered a role in his next film: Gremlins. Speilberg was the producer of this film, but Joe Dante, the director of Gremlins, got along well with Feldman. In fact, he had this to say about Feldman: He said that he was one of the “best child actors in Hollywood”.
Feldman had everything going for him. So when did it go oh so wrong?
Following Gremlins, Feldman made two films back to back. He reprised his role as Tommy in the next Friday the 13th film called A New Beginning and also made a much more iconic film: The Goonies. The most important thing about this film happened before they even filmed it.
While auditioning for his role as Mouth, Feldman met another young actor also named Corey. You guessed it: It was Corey Haim. Feldman beat out Haim for the role, but a friendship started here that would end up being the rollercoaster ride of the decade.
While The Goonies was great for Corey Feldman’s career, it stopped him from getting a franchise series. Friday the 13th producers had an idea that would turn Feldman’s character into the villain. The problem was that The Goonies was filmed at the same time. Feldman desperately wanted to do both, but while he was busy with Spielberg's film, the Friday the 13th producers changed their minds.
Feldman didn’t need to worry about missing out on playing the villain in a teen horror film, though. His career-defining role was just around the corner.
Gremlins and The Goonies are certainly films that we remember—but Feldman’s next film became one of the “most influential movies of the 1980s”. Stand By Me is not a horror movie but it is based on a terrifying Stephen King story.
In it, Feldman plays Teddy, a boy embarrassed by his “loony” father. Feldman later said that this character was the closest to his personality and his real life at the time—which doesn’t say much for his father. So maybe he was looking for a father replacement? Sadly, he looked in the wrong place.
When he was still around 13, Feldman started hanging around with a much older friend: pop star Michael Jackson. Feldman spent some time at Jackson's Neverland ranch. Back then, people weren’t quite as suspicious of Jackson and his youthful friends. Feldman later said that his memories of his time with Jackson were of fairly innocent times...except for one devastating incident.
It turns out that Corey Feldman had found a sort of father figure in Michael Jackson. Feldman remembers that one day Jackson did a very fatherly thing and read Feldman a picture book. The book, however, was not your typical bedtime story. It was about venereal disease and had a lot of inappropriate pictures.
At the time Feldman hadn’t felt weird about it but years later, he thought it was hugely inappropriate. It was time Feldman started hanging out with someone his own age.
Corey Feldman had met Corey Haim back at the audition for The Goonies and since then they’d been in the same orbit. In The Lost Boys, they finally had the chance to act together. While filming this much-praised vampire flick, Feldman bonded with Haim—mostly for a strange reason.
They were both too young to go partying with the other cast members. It didn’t matter. Feldman and Haim hung out, watched movies, and went to the arcade. These were probably the most normal things these two Hollywood kids got a chance to do. Feldman’s unorthodox real life, however, was about to cost him his job.
One day Feldman showed up for work on The Lost Boys and director Joel Schumacher noticed the young star snoozing on the job and acting strange. Schumacher recognized Feldman’s behavior for what it was: He was coming down from a drug binge.
Yes, the 16-year-old actor was already partying like an adult. Schumacher wanted nothing to do with a hot mess like Feldman, and he fired him on the spot. Feldman begged for his job back with a promise to straighten up. The director took pity on Feldman and welcomed him back to the movie. The big question was: Would Feldman hang on to his job?
Feldman managed to stay straight until The Lost Boys was in the can. His next feature would also be with his friend Corey Haim. While The Lost Boys was their first film together, License to Drive would be the first film where the media started calling Feldman and Haim "The Two Coreys”.
From the outside, it must have seemed like the two actors had everything. As we’ll soon see, behind the scenes, there were some very dark things going on.
A few years before they made License to Drive, The Two Coreys started attending a regular party called Alphy’s Soda Pop Club. This was a party for kids under 16 years of age who worked in TV and film. In addition to Feldman, stars like Who’s The Boss’ Alyssa Milano and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Alfonso Ribeiro attended the bash.
The idea was to have a safe booze-free place for teens to hang out. That was the idea. The reality, however, was completely different.
The guy running Alphy’s Soda Pop Club was Alphy Hoffman—son of Bobby Hoffman who was a casting director for TV. At first, Feldman felt honored when Hoffman personally invited him to these parties. He felt even better when Hoffman offered to pick him up and take him to the party.
Feldman enjoyed the parties for the first few years. He later went on to tell the truth: There was something sinister lurking at Alphy’s Soda Pop Club.
One thing missing from Alphy’s Soda Pop Club was parental supervision. Feldman alleges that this was the reason Hoffman picked a lot of the kids up at their homes. This way, the parents wouldn’t feel obliged to attend. Feldman said that the reason Hoffman didn’t want parents around was because there was a group of guys that hung out at the parties and they were there to meet underage actors.
Years later, Feldman announced on The Dr Oz Show that Hoffman himself had abused him. Drug use, inappropriate party hosts, what more was in store for young Feldman and how would he cope with it?
Feldman’s substance problem continued, but so did his career. In 1989, he made The Burbs, which also starred Tom Hanks. During the filming, Feldman faced some pretty tough issues. In his despair, he turned to one of his co-stars for advice. This was Star Wars’ Carrie Fisher, who’d faced some demons of her own.
The two bonded over how hard it was to be young and a Hollywood star. Fisher did her best, but Feldman was on a collision course and it wasn’t letting up any time soon.
Feldman’s next film was Dream a Little Dream—again with Haim. Feldman, much like his co-star Haim, struggled with addiction, and it had grown to include opiates. But that wasn't all. Feldman also began doing spontaneous Michael Jackson impressions on set. Sure it was weird, but the director just decided to make the impressions part of Feldman’s character.
Feldman was emulating the King of Pop. What Feldman didn't know, however, was that he was a king as well.
By the end of the 1980s, one thing was clear: It had been a wild ride for Feldman. At one point during the decade, Feldman and his buddy Haim were at the top of the heap as far as salaries for teenage stars in Hollywood went. Some people called them the “kings of the teen box office”. Well, the 1980s were soon coming to an end, and Feldman’s luck was about to run out.
The 1990s brought Feldman’s addiction problems front and center in the media. Newspapers blared a shocking headline. Authorities had charged Feldman with possession. Suddenly the cute kid from The Goonies was an adult in serious trouble. Feldman quickly checked himself into rehab, where he spent 10 whole months.
Once out, he started to do work with youth who were in trouble. He also worked on making the move from teen actor to having a career as an adult. Well, you can be the judge of how that worked out. His next film was Tales From The Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood. Not exactly classy fair.
Hmmm…maybe he’d have better luck on stage.
Corey Feldman did take some artistic risks in the early 2000s. He went off-Broadway and starred in a show called Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy. This was a satire of the hit 1987 Glenn Close film and of all things 80s, including Feldman himself. Feldman appeared as the Michael Douglas character and one critic called him “a great sport”. Sounds like a back-handed compliment to me.
So, perhaps the stage wasn’t the right thing for Feldman. How about reality TV?
Feldman recognized that his career, as well as Corey Haim's, was on the decline. That’s when they decided to team up and put their sad lives on the small screen. Feldman and Haim moved in together and the cameras started rolling on The Surreal Life.
While filming The Surreal Life, Feldman met Susie Sprague at a nightclub and then asked her to marry him. To boost ratings of his flailing show, he married Sprague right on the air. The marriage, while starting off as a publicity stunt, actually lasted seven years and produced one child: Zen Scott Feldman.
It seemed crazy that little Corey Feldman was now a father. Maybe it was time for him to share his wisdom.
After all that Feldman had been through, it seemed time to get it all down on paper. In his 2013 memoir, Coreyography, Feldman talked about a lot of disturbing things that went down during his childhood career. Feldman mentioned a man named Ron Crimson who enabled his trouble with illicit substances. This was when Feldman was still a teenager.
And if that doesn’t sound bad enough, the full story about Crimson was actually much worse.
In his book, Feldman retold the horrific story that this man called Ron Crimson provided him with illicit substances—and then went a step further. Feldman says that when he was high, Crimson would take advantage of him. Feldman called it what it was: assault. But who was this Ron Crimson? No one seemed to know who he was or where to find him.
Years later, Feldman was ready to admit that he had used a false name when talking about Ron Crimson, the man who had assaulted him. In his memoir, Feldman couldn’t use his real name because his publisher wouldn’t let him.
It was on The Dr Oz Show that Feldman revealed that it was none other than Jon Grissom—the guy that Feldman’s own father had hired as his personal assistant. Dr Oz then did some digging and found out the truth about Grissom—and it was a shocker.
Dr Oz found out that the man hired to be Feldman’s assistant had served prison time in 2003. And what was he in prison for? Committing obscene acts with a minor. What’s worse was that, after leaving prison, Grissom neglected to check in with authorities, which the judge had told him he must do.
Grissom was actually a fugitive from the law. Wherever Feldman turned, there seemed to be more and more heartache.
In 2013, Feldman’s friend Michael Jackson was facing accusations of the mistreatment of children at his ranch. Of course, Feldman had been one of the children who had spent time with Jackson, so everyone wanted to know what Feldman had to say.
To many people’s surprise, Feldman defended Jackson and said that nothing had ever happened between Jackson and him. He later added that the media was framing Jackson in order to pull attention away from the real men who had genuinely hurt him.
When the documentary about Michael Jackson’s treatment of boys came out, Feldman again came to his defense. He said that Leaving Neverland was a one-sided account and repeated that he’d been at the ranch with Jackson and nothing untoward had occurred. Two days later, however, Feldman made a shocking announcement.
He said he would no longer defend Jackson. This reversal of opinion made some people think that Feldman was a little flakey. What happened next confirmed it.
Feldman had still been holding back on naming the big names of people preying on younger stars in Hollywood. In 2017, he said he was ready to name names, but he needed something first: $10 million. Feldman said he wanted to make a feature film in order to name the names that everyone wanted to know.
When he went head-to-head with the now-canceled NBC journalist Matt Lauer, things got heated.
Lauer wanted to know why Feldman didn’t just name the perpetrators. Why did Feldman need $10 million? Feldman said that back when he was writing his memoir, his publisher wouldn’t let him use the actual names for legal reasons. He said that this time he was doing it alone without a publisher, so he needed financial support.
Lauer pushed harder and wanted Feldman to name names—or at least talk to authorities. Feldman had an answer ready—but it didn’t help him one bit.
Feldman’s answer to Lauer was that he had already told authorities everything way back in 1993 when it was all happening. Conservative commentator Megyn Kelly then took over the interview and got Feldman into a pot of his own hot water. She got him to admit that he was looking for an “upside”.
He said that neither he nor Corey Haim had an opportunity to get “an upside for our victimization”. This admission certainly didn’t win Feldman any new fans. In the end, he never got the money he was after, so he started a career in music, which had infuriating results.
Feldman’s shot at being a musician was a band he called Corey’s Angels. In 2016, the band appeared on NBC’s Today in 2016—with horrific results. Apparently the performance of Feldman’s song “Go 4 It” didn’t please many viewers and they soon took to social media to tell Feldman what they thought of him and his song.
Let’s just say, the words the posters used were not very flattering.
Feldman actually took the time to read some of the online responses and found the heartless criticism quite horrifying. He later spoke to People magazine and while talking about it, started to cry. He later said that the comments so terrified him and band member Courtney Anne, that they were too afraid to go out in public.
Later, when comments of support started to come in, Feldman thanked everyone. He then did something bizarre: He thanked the people who’d written the nasty comments. Maybe Feldman was so affected by the comments because he knew in his heart that Corey’s Angels was trying to do something good.
Feldman’s band Corey’s Angels also had a benevolent side to it. Feldman announced that Corey’s Angels helped “girls who were kind of lost and needed help to find their way”. While his use of the word “girls” and the rather imprecise mission statement may have raised suspicion, Feldman was serious.
He called the endeavor a “360 management development and production entity”. If this all sounds a little odd, you’re on to something.
Feldman may have been trying to help the members of Corey’s Angels, but there was something else going on. Several of the angels eventually stepped forward with complaints about Feldman’s behavior with them. This didn’t look good, especially since Feldman had joined a SAG-AFTRA committee that fights against harassment in show business.
With the complaints from the angels stacking up, Feldman had to step away from the committee.
Feldman never got his $10 million, but he did make his documentary. So, he was finally ready to name the names of the men preying on boys. There was a live audience ready to watch, and there were viewers at home who’d spent $20 to watch the film on their screens.
There were several delays and then Feldman made his startling announcement: Hackers were trying to silence him. In fact, they’d sabotaged the online viewers’ access to the movie. Feldman had to make a decision: cancel the screening or disappoint the viewers at home?
Feldman made the decision to go ahead with the live screening, but he offered no refunds to those who’d paid to watch at home. The public was getting sick and tired of Feldman and his antics.
When Feldman’s documentary finally came out, the public expected jaw-dropping bombshells. The big name that Feldman announced was Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen. Reportedly, Sheen had forced himself on Haim while filming Lucas in 1986.
Sheen, who was no stranger to controversy, quickly denied the accusation, but then another denial came from a surprising source. Haim’s mother, Judy Haim, said that Feldman’s story was completely “made up”. Feldman in turn, called her the "queen" of the "Wolfpack," which he said was the group trying to keep Feldman from telling the truth.
But what about the other names Corey Feldman had promised? Feldman named the man he’d used a pseudonym for in his memoir. But he’d already announced that name to Dr Oz. He also mentioned Marty Weiss, his former manager, Alphy Hoffman, and actor Dominick Brascia. The problem was: all of these people had already been named.
Even the story about Sheen had already been out there in the media. There was almost no new information and, of the accused, only Sheen was a known star. Were there still more names that Feldman was too afraid to mention? Or was the whole thing a way to get media attention? Likely, we’ll never know.
Feldman survived the debacle that was his documentary and no members of the alleged Wolfpack hunted him down. He is currently on to his third wife: Courtney Anne Mitchell, who was one of Corey’s Angels. Also, he’s still making movies. Most of the work seems to be low-budget and a lot of it is horror.
In 2022, Feldman offered his voice acting skills to Tank Standing Buffalo, a Canadian animator who’d had his own share of troubles as a young person. Perhaps it’s Feldman’s chance to help out a fellow sufferer. With Feldman, however, it’s sometimes hard to tell.
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