While these Hollywood stars and famous musicians were born to take the stage, they certainly didn't seem cut out for parenthood. From horrific neglect to absolute abandonment, these celebrity parents are sure to leave a sour taste in your mouth. Behind closed doors, there are no red carpets and dazzling smiles—only secrets, betrayal, and resentment.
Loretta Young and Clark Gable met on the set of Call of the Wild, and the consequences of their meeting led to a secret child and some of the most questionable parenting imaginable. In fact, their entire relationship was a horrifying mess. According to Young, Gable forced himself on her without her consent while aboard an overnight train back to Hollywood. The consequences?
A child that neither of them ever planned on having...
When Loretta Young discovered that she was pregnant with Clark Gable’s child, she was devastated. They'd only been together one time, but the damage was done. Afraid to tell her production company for fear that they'd want her to have an abortion, Young made a drastic decision. She decided to keep the pregnancy and the baby a secret.
Abortion, after all, was a mortal sin in her books, and she was determined to do the “right thing.” And so, Young set out to fool them all.
Young gave birth to her daughter and named her Judy after St. Jude—the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. According to rumors, an anonymous sender sent Clark Gable a telegram notifying him of his daughter’s birth. His reaction was chilling. He allegedly tore the notice up, letting the pieces fall to the ground. He wanted nothing to do with her.
Young, on the other hand, now had a living, breathing child to consider and a difficult choice to make.
In order to ensure that nobody found out about Judy's true parentage, Loretta Young did the unthinkable. She placed her daughter in an orphanage, and then 19 months later, went back and adopted her biological child. She craftily manipulated the system and reunited with her daughter without causing a public scandal. This was the lie that Young worked hard to conceal for the rest of her life.
However, if Young thought that Gable would eventually step up and provide for his daughter, she was sorely mistaken...
Loretta Young invited Clark Gable over to see his daughter, but she could only recall him visiting Judy once. She even opened up a bank account to allow Gable to discreetly provide for his daughter, but he never deposited a single dollar. Despite her efforts to allow some father-daughter connection, her main goal remained the same—nobody could ever discover that Gable was Judy’s real father.
And as Judy grew older, this feat became harder and harder.
With mounting unease, Young watched as Judy grew into a spitting image of her father, with his high cheekbones, large ears, and a mischievous grin. To hide Judy’s tell-tale ears, she made sure to always dress her in frilly bonnets. But soon, certain features became too obvious to conceal, and within Hollywood circles, dangerous rumors began to circulate.
When Judy turned seven, Young took her to a plastic surgeon to pin back her ears. After all, they were Gable’s ears, and this procedure was a fix-all. Then, the lies became deeper and more elaborate. Years later, Young deception came around to haunt her. When Judy finally discovered the truth about her father, their relationship was never the same again.
Secrecy defined Loretta Young's relationship with her daughter, however, these next Hollywood stars allowed poor parenting to define their legacies...
Ryan O’Neal and Joanna Moore were some of Hollywood's worst parents. Their two children, Tatum and Griffin, grew up in Hollywood—the land of excess—but O’Neal and Moore spent more time drinking and doing drugs than they did with their own children. But their problems went beyond neglect...There was something much more sinister happening at the O’Neal household.
O’Neal and Moore’s partying spun out of control. It didn’t help that Moore tried to patch up her failing career with even more booze and drugs. Everything about their marriage fell into a downward spiral. There were also shocking allegations against O’Neal claiming he battered his wife. Life at the O’Neal residence became overwhelmingly toxic and Moore finally got the courage to pack up the kids and leave. But after leaving their father, the children faced an even darker nightmare.
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When O’Neal and Moore split, it left Moore—struggling with addiction and now, depression—alone with the kids. Tatum O’Neal has some harsh memories of having little food and using the floor as a bathroom. But her worst memory of all?...Her mother’s teenage boyfriend beat her frequently. Finally, it became clear that Moore was unfit to care for her two children.
It was time for Ryan O'Neal to step up to the plate, but as a father, he was a massive disappointment.
Ryan O'Neal and his daughter starred together in Paper Moon—but their relationship took a sour turn when the Academy nominated Tatum and not Ryan. Although Tatum went on to win Best Supporting Actress award, her parents still managed to ruin her special night. When she took to the podium and looked across the sea of adoring peers, she couldn’t help but notice a glaring omission.
Neither of her parents attended the ceremony. Still, that was only the tip of the iceberg. After his daughter won the Academy Award, O’Neal used her as arm candy at celebrity events. He took Tatum out on the Hollywood circuit, exposing her to a party lifestyle she wasn’t prepared to deal with and which left lasting scars. O’Neal even took his daughter to the bastion of overindulgence—Hugh Hefner’s mansion.
From then on, their unconventional relationship became even more questionable...
The O’Neal household overflowed with all sorts of bad influences for children. O’Neal’s drug habit meant that sketchy dealers frequently visited the home. On one occasion, a dealer came upon Tatum unsupervised. That’s when something terrible happened...The drug dealer molested Tatum. Devastated and distraught, she mustered up the courage to tell her father the terrible truth.
When Tatum told her father about her horrific run-in with the dealer, O’Neal blamed his daughter, insisting that she must have led him on. And then O’Neal made matters worse—much worse...He kept the accused drug dealer on the payroll. In O’Neal’s mind, daughters were a dime a dozen, but a good dealer was hard to find. But believe it or not, this wasn't even the worst part.
O’Neal's parenting advice wasn’t just abhorrent, it was downright dangerous. When teenage Tatum O’Neal started to put on a few extra pounds, O’Neal swooped in with some fatherly advice. Since there were so many contraband drugs lying around the house, he suggested she snort some of them for weight loss. Her father’s poor judgment led Tatum down a dark and dangerous path.
O’Neal’s daughter struggled with many things—her crazy father, her addiction to drugs, and her unstable home life. In a moment of despair, she made a life-threatening decision: To take her own life by slitting her wrists. Luckily, her attempt proved unsuccessful. To add to devastation, O’Neal failed to offer Tatum a single shred of empathy. Instead, O’Neal criticized her attempt, saying, “You cut the wrong way.”
Sadly, O’Neal’s daughter wasn’t the only victim of his neglect...He also had it in for his son.
O'Neal liked to play pool with his son, Griffin, but he didn’t like to lose. Griffin recalled that whenever his father lost a pool game, he'd beat him up. At one point, it got so bad that O’Neal punched his son’s teeth out. Griffin didn’t hold back when describing life with his father—"He was violent all the way through my upbringing. He was a very abusive, narcissistic psychopath.”
But O'Neal was more than a bully, he was also an enabler.
O’Neal didn’t learn much from his abysmal shortcomings. Griffin O’Neal maintains that when he was 11-years-old, his father offered him substances. O’Neal absolutely denies this, claiming he’d never share his expensive gear with anyone, let alone Griffin. But whether the claim is true or not, O’Neal’s track record speaks for itself. For O’Neal, his children were never the main concern and unfortunately, they always paid the price.
Even though O’Neal and his daughter Tatum have tried to reconcile, O’Neal realizes that he just wasn’t father material—"I don't know why. I don't think I was supposed to be a father. Just look around at my work—they're either in jail or they should be." O’Neal was spot on with this comment as his terrible parenting produced a legacy of heartbreak.
And when it comes to heartbreaking legacies, this next celebrity couple is absolutely unforgettable.
Marlon Brando's marriage to Anna Kashfi was a full-blown mess, and before long, their son Christian found himself caught in their volatile crossfire. The brutal custody battle that ensued was not won overnight, and by the time Brando finally came out on top, his son was already 13 years old. Of course, as Brando soon learned, being a father was much harder than he ever expected.
Brando's determination to protect his son may have had something to do with the terrible hatred he had for his own father. In fact, Brando fiercely proclaimed this sentiment: "I didn’t want my father to get near Christian. The day he was born I said to myself with tears in my eyes, 'My father is never going to come near that child because of the damage he has done to me.'"
But no matter his good intent, Brando's career always took him far away from Christian...And sometimes, he just couldn't protect him.
By the time Brando had full custody, his son's dysfunctional upbringing had already severely affected him. It didn't help that Brando was almost never around, and instead, hired nannies to raise Christian. In 1972, while he was away filming in France, Brando's ex-wife took his absence as the perfect opportunity to get her son back...
Anna Kashfi took it upon herself to take Christian from school and shuttle him over the Mexican border. In a deal gone wrong, her friends hid the boy away where nobody could find him. When Brando caught wind of his ex-wife's scheming and missing son, he hired a slew of private investigators to bring him home. Caught in every father's worst nightmare, Brando could only sit and wait and hope.
To Brando's relief, the private investigators finally found Christian. But this experience had definitely taken a toll on the young boy. He'd been found living in a tent, wracked with pneumonia and clearly terrified. However, despite Brando's trying time with his first child, it didn't stop him from going forth and procreating willy nilly.
Now, while Brando didn't quite have a handle on fatherhood, our next mother found herself caught in a scandal so outrageous—it dealt her daughter an awful hand.
1958 bore witness to one of the biggest scandals ever to rock Old Hollywood. Johnny Stompanato, known gangster and infamous boyfriend of renowned actress Lana Turner, was found stabbed to death in Turner’s home. Turner’s daughter, 14-year old Cheryl Crane, confessed to the act after he had attacked her mother in the midst of a vicious argument.
Cheryl's actions were ruled to have been justified, proving once again that being in the Mafia doesn’t pay off in a court of law. But even though it seem like an open-and-shut case, dark and disturbing rumors began to circulate.
As shocking as it was that Cheryl Crane had murdered Johnny Stompanato, a few rumors persisted that things had gone down differently than was claimed by those involved. The most common of which was that Lana Turner had actually been the one to off her boyfriend, and her daughter only took the fall because the court would look more favorably on murder if it was a minor who did it. But that wasn't all.
A more twisted rumor claimed that Turner hadn’t actually been threatened by Stompanato; she’d actually caught him in bed with her daughter. In her rage, she’d run Stompanato through and forced Crane to take the fall. Frankly, we’re doubtful that this version is true, and we really hope that it isn’t.
Now, just as Lana turner helped move Old Hollywood's rumor mill, this next infamous father/daughter duo continues to rule today's gossip columns.
Angelina Jolie's life turned upside down after her father brutally threw her under the bus. Jon Voight decided to betray Jolie by talking about her personal life with Access Hollywood. He openly shared his thoughts on her recent marriage to Billy Bob Thornton and how he knew it was doomed from the very beginning. But that was only the tip of the iceberg.
Voight also went on to say how Jolie had "serious mental problems." These comments enraged Angelina Jolie and made her fear for her newfound claim to motherhood. She had only reason adopted her first child, and later said, "The most difficult thing, in him doing that, is that it could have affected my relationship with my child. They could have decided: 'He's right, she's crazy, let's remove that child from her custody.' And that's unforgivable."
But as horrible as this situation was, Angelina Jolie and Jon Voight's feud had actually started years ago—and their story is utterly heartbreaking.
Right from the get-go, Jolie's knowledge of her father's infidelity, as well as his decision to abandon his family, poisoned their relationship. However, in 2001, the two of them saw a brief reconciliation after starring alongside one another in Tomb Raider. It was Jolie herself who sought to mend old wounds and reached out to him with the part.
She thought the invitation was a great way to reconnect, and that because it was about an absent father, the story would resonate with both of them. Before long, Jolie and Voight had embarked on a healing and emotional journey...They had no idea that it would end in disaster.
In one of Tomb Raider's most touching scenes, Jolie and her father got to write their very own lines. Onscreen, Jolie utters the words she'd always wanted to say to her father, "You let me down," while Voight responds with, "I did what I thought was right." But even as they flaunted their newfound love and appreciation in promotional interviews for the film, it was never meant to last.
After filming on Tomb Raider, the glow of Jolie and Voight's joyous time together began to fade. Voight was always extremely critical of his daughter, and it wasn't long before he opened up his mouth and ruined things all over again. He was especially unhappy with Jolie's UN trips because he worried for her safety. Unfortunately, he took the role of overprotective dad to a whole new and despicable level...
Right before Jolie was about to set off on a UN mission to Cambodia, her father decided to destroy everything they'd worked so hard to build. He gave her a letter and said, "This is my truth, this is unchanging." Daddy dearest was being a little dramatic, but Jolie didn't have any negative suspicions about the letter. Considering what happened next, Jolie's response was absolutely devastating.
After taking her father's letter, Jolie locked eyes with her father and said, "That's wonderful, I love you, see you later." But when she opened the letter, her world practically imploded: Her father's words viciously criticized her character, and she later said, "He'd written that I was a bad person." This was the nail in the coffin. In the end, Jolie thought the best way forward was to cut ties with her toxic father—and in more ways than one.
Even though Jolie didn't want anything to do with her father, it certainly took him a long time to take a hint. When they accidentally crossed paths at an LA party, Voight tried to embrace her, but to no avail. One of her representatives immediately stepped in, barring his way, and sternly saying, "Get back. She doesn't want to see you."
But did this discourage Voight? Absolutely not.
Jolie's father tried to corner her every chance he got, even showing up at her London hotel. The second Jolie spotted him, she grabbed her son Maddox and made a mad dash for the nearest cab. In her hurry to escape Voight, she even left her luggage behind. Their relationship was a mess, and it was only about to get worse.
By the time Voight slandered her name on Access Hollywood, Jolie was at her wit's end.
Jolie no longer considered Voight her father and took action to remove "Voight" from her name. But although her relationship with her father was at an end, Jolie had a greater concern on her mind—raising her son Maddox. As rocky as other parts of her life were, becoming a mother saved Jolie from spiraling into a dark place.
She later said, "I knew once I committed to Maddox, I would never be self-destructive again." While Jolie overcame her demons and devoted herself to motherhood, this next diva struggled to leave her past behind her.
In March of 1993, Whitney Houston gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, who she named Bobbi Kristina Brown. Both Houston and Bobbi Brown had yearned to start their own family, and they’d finally done it. But whether these two eager stars were cut out for parenthood was another question entirely. Plagued by scores of her own demons, Houston wasn't ready to sacrifice her vices for the sake of her daughter.
Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina was a witness to some of her mother’s worst years of substance use, sometimes helping to take care of her mother during a time when her mother should have been taking care of her. An anonymous family remembers recalls visiting the Houstons and Bobby and having a preteen Bobbi Kristina answer the door, advising that Bobby Brown had to put Whitney to bed.
The room was covered in dirty clothes and dishes, and the family source could only describe it as “the bedroom of a junkie.” Still, the heartbreaking consequences of Bobbi's upbringing became even more magnified after Houston's tragic passing...
Following the loss of her mother, Bobbi Kristina frequently made tabloid headlines for all the same reasons Houston had—substance use, unstable relationships, and dramatic weight loss. There was also a dispute about her relationship with a man named Nick Gordon, who she’d grown up with and had, according to rumors, married. Tragically, the eerie similarities to her mother’s troubles didn’t end there.
On January 31, 2015, Bobbi Kristina’s friend and rumored partner Nick Gordon found her floating face down in a bathtub in her home. They called an ambulance and performed CPR, but the damage was done. She spent the next six months in and out of a coma before ultimately passing away at the age of 22 on July 26, 2015.
Addiction plagued the Houstons and brought about their tragic ends. Quite similarly, this next mother fell prey to an entertainment industry that destroyed her from the inside out.
Nowadays, Judy Garland’s dysfunction—including her addiction to pills and her erratic behaviors on set—is Hollywood legend. But for her daughter Liza Minelli, it was a nightmare she woke up to every day. As a child, Liza even had to empty out her mother’s pills and replace the contents with sugar, just to curb the legend’s habit. It was a harsh way to grow up, and it would only get more tragic.
According to Liza, one of her earliest memories was that when Garland was upset, she would constantly announce that she was going to overdose in the family bathroom, then lock herself in. One day, Garland had been in there so long that the girl cut through the screen window with a pair of scissors to check on her mother. That’s when she made an incredibly adult discovery.
Luckily, Garland was still alive, and Minnelli found that her mother had simply dumped the bottle of aspirin she was planning on using down the toilet. However, instead of viewing this as a cry for help, the immature girl only treated it as a game, believing this somehow meant, “All she wanted was attention!” No wonder she got so screwed up...
Liza’s entire childhood was filled to the brim with show business. She spent more time on the road or running around MGM studios with her mother than she did anywhere else—especially after her parents divorced in 1951. Indeed, her itinerant little life was actually the inspiration behind the children’s character Eloise, who famously lives in a hotel. If that sounds like a fairy tale for a child, it was more of a horror story.
During her romps around on tour with her mother, Garland expected Liza to be little more than an assistant to her. Later, Liza recalled how Judy would travel around with dozens of luggage bags, while Liza herself was always responsible for her mother’s “personal ice bucket” because Garland hated hotel amenities. Even so, Judy always knew how to keep reeling her daughter in.
By the time she was three years old, Liza had already appeared in her mother’s film In the Good Old Summertime, and she grew ravenous for more. Her mother’s reaction was disturbing. When Liza announced her intention to follow in her footsteps, Garland’s first response was, “Now don’t get upset because of the way they may compare you to me.” Um, thanks mom. But then this got weirder.
When Liza was 18, the coltish teenager was finally ready for the full force of the spotlight, and she convinced her mother to let her go on stage with her during Garland’s performance at the Palladium in London. She wasn't an instant hit: When Garland purred, “And now, Miss Liza Minnelli,” the crown gave only polite applause. Little did they know, Minnelli was about to blow their minds.
Liza may have gotten her foot in the door because of her family connections, but her incredible voice was all her own. She gave the performance of a lifetime at the Palladium that day, winning over the audience by the end of her song. Afterward, the crowd erupted in thunderous clapping for the new star. Only, instead of being happy for her daughter, Garland’s dark side came out.
It seems that Judy Garland was just as surprised as anyone that Liza had that kind of star power in her. One friend describes how taken aback the veteran performer was after watching her daughter—and how uncomfortable. Reportedly, Garland yanked Minnelli right off stage after the curtain call and pushed her into the wings, a “big, steely smile” on her face all the while.
Suddenly, Liza looked like competition. The consequences? Absolutely heartbreaking.
Minnelli has often declined to discuss her true relationship with her mother Judy Garland, and we have only found out some of their highs and lows in dribs and drabs. Even so, perhaps no incident illustrates their dysfunction more than Garland’s actions on Minnelli’s first major opening night, when she was performing in the off-Broadway show Best Foot Forward.
The first uncomfortable detail? Garland didn’t even show up, something the newspapers caught wind of immediately and criticized. But the worst of it went on in Minnelli’s dressing room that night.
Minnelli had been so certain her mother would show up that when she didn’t see her face in the audience, she took her first opportunity to track her down. At intermission, Minnelli called her mother’s hotel. She then listened as the legend picked up the phone from her room. When Minnelli asked Garland why she bailed when she clearly didn't have anywhere else to be, things got complicated fast.
According to Minnelli, her mother explained that she had thought that opening night was the next night, as if that was an excuse for missing your daughter’s big day. Still, the saddest part happened next. In remembering this call, Minnelli insists that her mother did this all on purpose. According to her, Garland didn’t want to take away her daughter’s thunder on the first day. Although Garland did indeed show up the next night, we may never know her true motives.
This next star also ushered his daughter into the acting world—but few know his darker history.
Henry Fonda was one of Hollywood's greatest stars, and with his piercing blue eyes and formidable acting chops, he captured the hearts of many. However, after he returned from the horrors of WWII, he hadn’t so much changed as crystallized into a hardened, distant man. His family got it worst of all. Firstly, Fonda had extreme difficulty expressing his emotions.
Whenever he felt his wife or children were demanding feelings from him, he would have terrifying “outbursts of anger” that reverberated through the house. And that wasn’t all.
Fonda did a number on both his children in incredibly awful ways. While Peter Fonda claimed his father never said “I love you” or heard it back until Henry was elderly, Jane admitted that her father instilled in her the idea that, “Unless you look perfect, you're not going to be loved.” But believe it or not, this wasn't Fonda's worst transgression. It was about to get worse...much worse.
When his wife Frances Seymour took her own life, Fonda’s children Jane and Peter were only 12 and 10 years old. Thinking he was protecting them, Fonda told them a horrific lie. Instead of admitting the true circumstances of their mother’s passing, Fonda claimed that she succumbed to heart failure. Maybe that’s forgivable, but his next actions sure weren’t.
Fonda was a man who did nothing by halves, and he took his dishonesty about Frances to the next level. Likely afraid of any “unnecessary” outpourings of emotion, Fonda didn’t even let his own children go to their mother’s funeral, instead putting on a hasty affair with just himself and his mother-in-law in attendance. Oh, but that wasn’t all.
Fonda’s final turn of the screw was a doozy. In order to completely hide the truth from his children, he canceled all newspaper and magazine subscriptions to their house, lest they stumble across a story about it. Despite Fonda's efforts, he couldn't hide the truth. Young Jane found out about her own mother’s tragic end while thumbing through a magazine in a study hall.
However, despite Henry Fonda's poor choices, his daughter Jane was willing to give him a second chance...
As Fonda became elderly, his daughter Jane bought the film rights to Ernest Thompson’s play On Golden Pond. The reason behind this move was heartbreaking. Jane thought the play, which outlines the relationship between an emotionally distant father to his daughter, was the perfect way for her and her father to work out some of their own issues. One heartbreaking moment on set proved her right.
During a scene where Jane's character tells Henry's character that she wants to be friends, one tiny detail nearly made the notoriously stoic Henry Fonda break down. In the take that appears in the film, Jane Fonda decided to grab her father's hand. Her gesture was so emotional that Fonda turned away in an attempt to hide his tears. See? Underneath his cold exterior, Henry Fonda did have a heart...unlike this next diabolical mother.
When the 24-year-old Brigitte Bardot found out she was pregnant, her world turned upside down...and not in a good way. At the time, she had absolutely no desire to become a mother, and it was only at the urging of her partner, actor Jacques Charrier, that she kept the baby and agreed to marry him. But from there on out, their relationship turned sour.
Before long, it became painfully clear that, for her marriage, motherhood was the beginning of the end.
Already overwhelmed by fame, Bardot had no idea how to properly raise a child. And so when Nicolas was born, she felt completely lost at sea. This was not the life she'd signed up for. But that wasn't all. The press began to take stabs at her, ruthlessly attacking her maternal deficiencies. And just when Bardot thought it couldn't get any worse...it did.
With her marriage already on the rocks, Bardot couldn't afford for her tenuous relationship to take another hit. Unfortunately, everything came crashing down when her husband Charrier was shipped off to Nice for a two-year stint in the army. His absence only fueled her resentment and her growing unhappiness. Consequently, it was never meant to last.
Bardot and Charrier divorced in 1962. But a husband wasn't the only thing she lost. In the end, Charrier gained custody of her son Nicolas...Brigitte Bardot was finally free. But even with the weight of motherhood off her shoulders, happiness seemed far out of reach. Unfortunately, abandonment wasn't the only betrayal she dealt her son.
Years later, when Brigitte Bardot decided to publish an autobiography, she didn't really give a second thought to the consequences of her actions. She wrote with passion, gusto, and a whole lot of spite. The things she wrote about her husband Jacques Charrier and son Nicolas were so slanderous—it completely destroyed her relationship with them forever.
Bardot unleashed damaging vitriol on her ex-husband, condemning Charrier as a "vulgar, dictatorial and uncontrolled macho, a gigolo and despicable alcoholic." But perhaps even more disturbing were her hateful comments about motherhood. In fact, Bardot made it painfully clear that she never wanted Nicolas in the first place.
When writing about her pregnancy, Bardot referred to her baby as a "tumor." She also wrote, "I looked at my flat, slender belly in the mirror like a dear friend upon whom I was about to close a coffin lid." But the most disturbing part of all was her heartbreaking attempts to abort her child. She remembers pounding on her stomach and trying to secure a prescription for morphine.
Enraged by his ex-wife's book, Charrier felt he had no choice but to seek revenge.
Charrier sued Bardot for the 80 pages of her autobiography wherein she tore down his reputation and scorned their son. But although he claimed over £1 million in damages, in the end, Bardot and her publisher only had to pay £28,000. Her lawyers argued that the superstar had every right to speak openly about her life and that the only privacy in danger was her own.
Like Bardot, this next star thought that a husband and a baby would lead to happiness. But, of course, she was wrong.
There’s a reason people called Nina Simone “The High Priestess of Soul”—her talent was almost other-worldly. Yet for every demon Simone exorcised on stage, there was always another lurking around the next bend. When Simone fell in love with New York detective Andrew Stroud, she thought she'd found the man of her dreams...
In 1961, Simone tied the knot with Stroud, and before long, he became her manager and then the father of her child, Lisa Simone Kelly. But this was no fairy tale. Not only was Stroud a horrible husband, but Simone was woefully unprepared to take on motherhood.
In the 70s, Nina Simone's poor parenting reached an all-time low. As a result of her jet-setting ways, her life became incredibly unstable. Simone was all over the place, moving from Barbados over to Liberia—but all the while, she was hiding a dark secret. During this time, she all but abandoned her young daughter, Lisa, foisting her off onto friends or her father while she went off adventuring.
And when Lisa decided to visit her mother in Liberia, it only got worse.
Although Lisa once believed her mother was her “comfort” in the face of her aggressive father, the tables quickly turned. As Lisa confessed, “Now she was the person that was doing the beating, and she was beating me.” The situation was so dire, the girl even considered taking her own life before fleeing back home. In fighting her own demons, Simone bestowed some of them unto her own daughter.
And as far as absent parents go, this next legendary actor was a bona fide disappearing act.
Christopher Plummer's legacy is carried on by his daughter, the actress Amanda Plummer. But the actor's start as a father wasn’t a great one. In fact, it couldn't have been worse. He actually ditched the birthing room when his wife, and Amanda's mother, was in the middle of labor. And the reason he left was awful too: He wanted to go out on a bender.
Unfortunately, his disappointing parenting didn't end there.
Plummer admits he was a lousy husband and an even worse father. He barely saw his lovely daughter Amanda after the birth. Once she grew up and embarked on her own acting career, many filmgoers were slow to realize that Pulp Fiction’s Amanda Plummer and Christopher were related. One thing is for sure, though: She definitely inherited her father's acting chops.
Luckily for Plummer, his daughter made a name for herself despite his many shortcomings—but the same can't be said for this next heartbreaking story.
Edith Piaf will always be one of the greatest, and most celebrated, French entertainers. But while her soaring vocals captured her audiences, her mothering abilities were a whole other story...When Piaf found out she was pregnant, she reluctantly made a necessary sacrifice. She sadly conceded to her partner, Louis Dupont, and gave up singing to make wreaths in a factory throughout the course of her pregnancy. Was she bitter about it? 100 percent.
Finally, in February 1933, 17-year-old Piaf gave birth to a beautiful baby girl—Marcelle. But the young mother was in for a rude awakening: Motherhood wasn’t everything she hoped it would be.
Still a child in her own right, Piaf had no idea how to rear a child, nor was she much interested in doing so. Singing proved far more interesting than a baby and she couldn’t wait to be back on the streets. Dupont detested Piaf’s selfishness and apathy toward Marcelle. During a heated quarrel over her irresponsible behavior, Piaf made a rash decision.
She left him. She and her roommate Momone took the child and moved out. But Dupont wasn’t about to let her get away with it.
Piaf and Momone frequented the red-light district of Paris—Pigalle, and it was there that she found a job singing at a lesbian club called Lulu’s. Her audience of struggling delinquents reminded her of the family she had growing up. These were her people and they related to her repertoire of songs that spoke to their common struggles—her chansons réalistes.
These supposed lowlifes had far more in common with her than the baby girl waiting for her at home.
Piaf’s and Momone’s new lodging was at the Hôtel Au Clair de Lune, where her neglectful attitude toward Marcelle continued. Distressingly, she often left the infant alone in the apartment for most of the day whilst she and Momone went out to perform. Finally, Dupont came to his daughter’s rescue and whisked her away. He beseeched Piaf to come home and made a chilling ultimatum.
He told her that if she didn’t come with him, she would never see her daughter again.
Just as her own mother had abandoned her, Edith Piaf also left her daughter behind. Although she kept up with her childcare expenses, she ultimately chose her own needs over her daughter’s. But the sad story doesn’t end there. Shortly after, Marcelle passed from meningitis. She was only two years old.
Edith Piaf was never meant to be a mother and never really paid for her negligence, unlike these next rockstar parents who were caught up in a scandal so damaging—it led to fatal consequences.
In 1992, a Vanity Fair article came out about Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, the contents of which were utterly scandalous. The article claimed that while Love was pregnant with their daughter Frances Bean, she and Cobain had indulged in drug use. It caused a media firestorm as this famous couple was exposed for their unfit parenting. But the disastrous fallout didn't end there.
Due to these extreme allegations, the authorities were forced to take Frances Bean from the custody of her parents for a time—but the article may have had far worse consequences. Love believes the piece had a huge, negative impact on her marriage, and may have even helped drive Cobain to his tragic end. Through it all, she still asserts that she quit using as soon as she found out she was pregnant.
This next Hollywood actor wishes he could deny his bad parenting—but unfortunately there's some overwhelming evidence working against him.
Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger’s custody woes came to a head in 2011, when TMZ released an angry voicemail from Baldwin to his then-11-year-old-daughter, Ireland. In the message, Baldwin can be heard calling Ireland a “rude, thoughtless, little pig.” Baldwin has since commented on his mental state in the fallout: "I spoke to a lot of professionals, who helped me. If I committed suicide, [ex-wife Kim Basinger's side] would have considered that a victory. Destroying me was their avowed goal.”
Baldwin's slip-up was a huge embarrassment, but luckily his parenting never reached the horrifying heights of this next terrifying father.
On stage, The Jackson 5 were cheery and dynamic, but behind the scenes, nothing could be further from the truth. Joe Jackson was a strict disciplinarian whose methods bordered on the extreme. In an interview with Oprah, he admitted to using a belt strap to beat his children. That's already horrific, but just wait, because it got worse.
According to Joe, he wasn't even sorry about abusing his own children because, in his view, it kept them out of trouble and away from the gangs of their neighborhood. Um, cool story, doesn't excuse whipping your kids, bro. And of course, the nightmare didn't end there.
When Michael Jackson finally revealed his experience of Joe's violent side, he exposed his father's truly low depths. Michael alleged that Joe would often beat and berate him during the band's rehearsals. Michael later revealed that Joe would sit in a chair as the boys rehearsed, holding a belt and waiting for the moment when one of them would make a mistake. And that's not all.
Joe allegedly forced the boys to practice to the point of physical exhaustion for five grueling hours every single day after school. He also controlled every aspect of their lives, not allowing them to have friends or according to some reports, even to play outside. And somehow, that's still not the saddest part.
In their first year with Motown, The Jackson 5 released five No. 1 hits and set a world record for selling ten million records in ten months. But let's not forget the horrendous cost of that success: Joe Jackson was merciless. When Joe discovered that Michael felt self-conscious about the size of his nose, he gave his son a cruel nickname: Big Nose.
Years of teasing led Michael to develop a habit of covering his nose and, as many have speculated, likely led to the many surgeries he had to make it smaller.
Oh, and Joe wasn't the only weird parent in the mix. The Jackson clan's matriarch Katherine was consumed with the thought of cleanliness, often taking out her obsession on her children. She scrubbed her kids with rubbing alcohol in an effort to purify them and would smear Vaseline on their faces to make them shine. Good god, this family...
And so, at the end of the day, what caused the Jackson family's seemingly endless misery? The answer might be simpler than you think. Joe Jackson treated his children like show ponies, made fun of their insecurities, and more, but his cruelest act was eventually revealed by Jermaine. He said none of the kids can remember their father being affectionate with them or even once telling them that he loved them.
Cruel acts that played out behind the curtain? This next Hollywood Starlet may have been one of the most manipulative mothers of them all.
In 1940, Joan Crawford decided to become a mother...The only problem was, Crawford wasn't exactly mother material. Oh, the year started out well enough: Acting on years of yearning, she adopted a daughter through a Las Vegas agency. Sure, she originally named her “Joan” on a narcissistic impulse, and then quickly renamed her “Christina,” but that’s not a red flag…right? Wrong.
Over the course of her lifetime, Crawford made a convincing show of being a loving and doting mother—but this was a horrible facade. Later, when her daughter Christina decided to try her hand as an actress, Joan went ahead and dealt her own child a vicious blow. Due to a ruptured ovarian tumor, Christina had to bow out of her role in the soap opera The Secret Storm.
Ever the considerate mom, Crawford contacted the producers and offered herself as a replacement. Even worse, they agreed. But this was only the beginning.
When Crawford passed, her adopted brood of children seemed heartbroken—until the contents of her will revealed the dark truth. Though she left Cindy and Cathy a small sum of money, she notoriously shut out her two other children entirely from an inheritance. As she wrote, "It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son, Christopher, or my daughter, Christina, for reasons which are well known to them." Those dark reasons soon came out.
In 1978, while Crawford was still warm in her grave, her daughter Christina got a long-awaited revenge. The young woman released her infamous tell-all book Mommie Dearest, letting all Crawford’s secrets loose in the process. Although many contest the claims, the book alleges that Crawford emotionally and physically mistreated Christina and her brother Christopher—and the details weren’t pretty.
According to Christina, Crawford’s viciousness combined with her cleanliness obsession to make one unholy mix. Most famously, Crawford hated wire hangers and any kind of mess, and she would wake her children up in the middle of the night if they hung anything up on an ordinary hanger or left a crumb on the floor or a book out of order.
One of Mommie Dearest’s most chilling accusations targets Joan Crawford’s picture-perfect image. Christina claimed that during Christmas, Crawford would lavish her children with gifts for photo ops, but then force them to choose only one while the cameras stopped rolling, giving the rest away to charity. But when it came to infamous allegations, Christina saved the best for last.
In the aftermath of Mommie Dearest, Christina added a new sin to Joan's reputation: Murder. According to Christina, Joan’s fourth husband Alfred Steele didn’t pass from a heart attack. The family found him at the bottom of a flight of stairs, and there was apparently no autopsy. Without explicitly calling Joan out, Christina said, “I didn’t believe it was an accident…I know what Mommie was capable of in a state of rage."
Now, when it came to vicious celebrity tell-alls, Hollywood has it all.
After Bing Crosby's passing, Gary Crosby, one of his sons from his first marriage, dealt Crosby the ultimate betrayal. He wrote a book about his relationship with his father titled Going My Own Way. It was a real scorched-earth account of his life with Bing. Gary Crosby alleged that his father was cruel, distant, and abusive in every sense of the word.
These details tarnished Bing's reputation and were utterly shocking...
In one passage from the book, Gary Crosby alleges that Bing was critical of his weight, and would hit him with a metal-studded belt if he failed to live up to his father’s expectations after a weekly weigh-in. However, this wounding tell-all didn't sit well with everyone in the family...Gary’s brother Phillip Crosby quickly jumped to their father’s defense.
Philip had some fighting words for his brother and called Gary a “whining, [redacted] crybaby, walking around with a two-by-four on his shoulder and just daring people to nudge it off." Yikes. While Phillip denied Gary’s claims, he did admit that Bing Crosby did believe in corporal punishment, but only when warranted. Still, Phillip's ridicule didn't end there.
As harsh as Gary was toward his father Bing, Phillip was even harsher toward Gary. He called him a liar, ugly, talentless, greedy, and money-grubbing. The cherry on top? He also said, “To my dying day, I'll hate Gary for dragging Dad's name through the mud.” Ouch. One would hope that, despite their infighting, Crosby’s sons from his first marriage would find some measure of happiness in their lives, but tragically, that was not the case.
Within two years of each other, both Lindsay and Dennis Crosby took their own lives. Gary Crosby succumbed to lung cancer a few years later, followed by Phillip in 2004. In a sad twist, Phillip suffered a fatal heart attack, just like the father he so tirelessly defended. But while Bing had at least one son in his corner, this next actress had only one child—one that despised her enough to also write a damning tell-all.
In 1956, Shirley MacLaine experienced a life-changing event. She became a mom. She may not have believed in commitment or a relationship that tied her down, but perhaps a baby girl would change all that. The couple named the child Stephanie Sachiko Parker and appeared over the moon at her arrival. Sadly, their euphoria wouldn't last long.
Having a child at home is a full-time responsibility—one MacLaine wasn't prepared for. So, she made a shocking decision. When Sachi was only six, MacLaine and Parker moved to Japan. The reason? Pretty dramatic: A drunken nanny incident and some kidnapping threats. But that wasn't all. MacLaine didn't think Hollywood was a safe place to raise a child.
But as good as her intentions were, her parenting plan had some serious flaws.
MacLaine insists she was a very hands-on parent for the time that she lived in Japan. Eventually, she faced a difficult choice. She couldn’t stay in Japan if she wanted to continue working. Putting her work first, MacLaine left Sachi with her dad and flew back to Hollywood. Tragically, she only got to see her daughter during Christmas and other holidays.
This decision resulted in an unbridgeable divide between mother and daughter.
Of course, being so busy professionally can take a toll on one’s personal life. MacLaine reached the peak of her career but it was at a devastating cost. Her daughter, Sachi Parker, paid for it by being alone; she longed for a mother whom she could only see on screen. Sachi moved to the US in 1981, hoping to reconnect with her mom and pursue acting as well. Unfortunately, she was in for a nasty surprise.
If you thought MacLaine would love having her daughter so close by after so long—you’d be wrong. In a tell-all autobiography titled, Lucky Me: My Life With—And Without—My Mom, Shirley MacLaine, Sachi made a full disclosure about her non-existent relationship with her mom. Once, while Sachi attended high school in Europe, both MacLaine and Parker forgot about her at Christmas. But there were other shocking revelations too.
Apart from being negligent and largely absent from her daughter’s life, MacLaine had never helped her financially either. Sachi had to fend for herself, working several jobs as a skiing instructor, a waitress, and an au pair. She also claimed that MacLaine actively sabotaged her acting career. Perhaps she hoped to guilt-trip her mom through her autobiography...In the end, MacLaine’s response was startling.
MacLaine had no time for Sachi’s grievances. She said the book was a “dishonest, opportunistic effort” from the child she had only wanted the best for, and whom she had always loved. Ouch. Obviously, MacLaine had no problem marching to the beat of her own drum. Similarly, this last wretched parent did whatever she desired...even if her desires were absolutely demented.
Gloria Grahame had an utterly scandalous life, but her most infamous moment was truly jaw-dropping and it had everything to do with her teenage stepson. Although she went through a vicious divorce with her second husband Nicholas Ray, most people don’t know the real, awful reason behind their split. The actress and her husband-director didn’t get along, but it really all unraveled when Ray made a whopping, deal-breaker of a discovery.
You’re going to want to sit down for this.
Until the end of his life, Nicholas Ray claimed that one day, he came home and found his wife Gloria Grahame in bed with his 13-year-old son, Anthony. Yeah, I wasn’t kidding about the “deal-breaker” part—Grahame got with her teenage stepson. And if you think that’s the end of that, read on. Somehow, this freaky Mrs. Robinson situation gets a whole lot weirder.
Today, Grahame’s biographer claims she never slept with the young Anthony Ray, and that Nicholas Ray just made up the accusation to…make himself look good, I guess? But then more damning evidence emerged. In 1958, eight years after Nicholas supposedly caught them red-handed, Grahame and Anthony got back in, er, “touch” and started up a full-blown adult relationship. Double ew. How could this get worse? Um...
Two years after reconnecting, the dubious lovebirds made it official, tying the knot in a wedding ceremony in Tijuana, Mexico—a well-known destination for highly respectable, pre-planned unions. By this point, even Gloria and Anthony knew they were doing something risky, and they actually kept the ceremony a secret for years. Until, that is, the bottom dropped out.
Grahame and Anthony kept their forbidden love under wraps for as long as they possibly could, but the secret leaked in 1962. The revelation (obviously) ignited a blaze of tabloid speculation and scandal-mongering, with widespread denouncements of the union. Almost overnight, Grahame’s fading Hollywood star turned into total box office poison. The most biting blow, however, came from closer to home.
Grahame’s Tijuana wedding wasn’t just tabloid fodder; it also united a bevy of her bitter ex-husbands against her. Cy Howard, her third husband, was so incensed and disturbed that he charged her with being an unfit mother and tried to win sole custody of their daughter Marianna. Likewise, Nicholas Ray also entered into a long, protracted legal battle with the star over the custody rights of their son Timothy. It was all too much for Grahame to handle.
She suffered a massive nervous breakdown, and as a result, Grahame never fully recovered, either professionally or personally.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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