Child stars are hardly a new thing. Look at Shirley Temple being one of the first. She was born in 1928, her film career beginning in 1932 at the tender age of 4. (Some thought it was possible that she may have been younger) Her natural talents immediately shone through. Her first feature film was in 1935..after that there was no stopping her, being labelled as “America’s young sweetheart” . unfortunately after a successful early career it diminished in 1950. This is not the best example as she is one of the very few child stars who have not turned to drugs and alcohol.
Frances Ethel Gumm, best known as Judy Garland, a slightly earlier star was not so lucky and was labelled as “one of the most tragic stars during Hollywood’s golden era. ” Her mother first saw her potential at the age of just 2 when she sang “Jingle bells” and when she was taken off the stage began kicking and screaming. She joined her 2 sisters Mary Jane Gumm and Virginia Gumm, becoming a famous trio performing in bars and theaters across America. Behind closed doors things were quite the opposite family life was not a happy one due to her mothers over enthusiastic drive for them to perform and her Fathers closeted homosexuality. In September 1935 the family got their first ‘big break’ when Gumm was signed to “Louis B. Mayer” . After he heard her sing she was quickly signed to the label, her name being changed to “Judy Garland” as it was thought that it sounded better. The first tragedy struck the family when her father died from what is though to be meningitis in 1935 and there was a large threat that Judy Garland may lose her job. Another problem was her weight fluctuation, but she was soon given amphetamines in order to give her the desired figure. This proved to be the downward spiral that resulted in her life-long drug addiction. In 1939 she played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz…this is when her career blossomed and she continued playing roles between.1936-1963 .By the age of 41 she had been married and divorced 4 times and finally she took a 5th husband. In 1969 she took an overdose of barbiturates which proved to be fatal, she was just 47.
Michael Jackson was one of 5 children and later became known as one of the most bizarre celebrities in the media. Many rumors were heard about his childhood. Some said that the intense hours that he worked as a child meant that he never actually had a childhood. He had a successful solo career his fist number one being “Thriller” back in 1983. He was first accused of child molestation 1993 case settled in court, no further charges on that case made. Further cases he was charged of in 2005 but the jury ruled him to be not guilty after sexual abuse allegations. He suffered from constant media attacks and the media attention had him trapped in later life. He received media attention surrounding his marriage and the birth of his 2nd child. In an interview with Martin Bashir he showed to be immature, almost like a man trapped in a child’s body.
Macaulay Culkin showed himself to be going off the rails when he was 18 marrying a girl he’d just met. was desperate to shed child actors skin he did this by estranging his parents. He became addicted to marijuana and prescription pills as a young adult. Around the time of the ‘Home Alone’ film Culkin became close friends with pop singer Michael Jackson appearing in his “Black or White” video. During the trial against Michael Jackson, Culkin stated that he had slept in Jackson’s bed many times but that Jackson had never sexually molested him. He attended Jackson’s funeral in September 2009. On September 17th 2004 he was arrested for the possession of 17.3g of marijuana and two controlled substances. He was jailed but then released on a $4,000 bond. After being tried in court he pleaded not guilty but then reversed to be pleading guilty. He received 3 one year suspended prison terms and was forced to enroll into a probationary drug treatment receiving a $540 fine
Britney Spears started acting on American sitcoms from a very young age. He father suffered from alcohol problems which badly affected her home life. Her mum was her manager. Her first single was at the age of 16 “Baby one more time” She released her debut album and shot to fame in 1999 selling over 100 million albums worldwide and Britney became a tabloid obsession. Cracks started to show in 2004 when she was 23. However her breaking point was her marriage to Kevin Federline in 2005. Her self-esteem seemed to crumble as her relationship showed ‘holes’ Britney is known for her crazy antics : drugs, alcohol and extreme behavior. She caused a stir when she shaved off all her hair off in 2007. Photographers at the scene revealed that she was crying. When she was asked by a media source why she took such an extreme move she stated “Because of you” she was reported to have spent time in rehab. In the same year she temporarily lost custody of her children due to her drug abuse. She seems to have pieced her life back together and released new singles this year.
Looking back at Lindsay Lohan’s career who’d have though that the innocent star who appeared in “The Parent Trap” in 1998 at the age of 12 could become so troubled. Her mum Dina worked as her manager, Lohan’s working relationship with her mother is known to be somewhat of a disaster, being criticized for the way that she works with her eldest daughter. She often spoke publicly about Lohan without her permission. Lohan has suffered from drug and alcohol problems stating that she used them to ‘mask all her troubles’ She has been admitted to rehab 3 times and was jailed after being caught with cocaine in her purse..pardon the pun but I believe it was the media that called her to ‘Crack’ She sought help for her addiction after she woke up lying on her bathroom floor having collapsed, surrounded by flowing water as the bath had overflowed. In January 2007 she had an incident with Ambien which lead to her checking herself into the Wonderland Centre clinic in LA for 30 days to try to aid her recovery. That same year she was caught drink driving and was to serve 120 days in jail. In January 2011 she stole a necklace from a film set worth $2,500. Her wild behaviour seems to worsen with age. I can’t help but feel that the media are to blame.
Hayley Joel Osment starred in a range of roles including The Sixth Sense in 1999 and A.I alongside Jude Law in 2001. Sadly as an 18-year-old he was charged with drunk driving and marijuana possession. In 2006 he crashed his car whilst returning from a concert suffering minor injuries. Luckily no-one else was hurt. Osment was given 3 years probation, 60 hours in alcohol rehabilitation, a fine of $1,500 and 26 Alcohol Anonymous meetings which he had to attend over a 6 month period.
The sickly sweet High School Musical star Vanessa Hugens proved to too good be true and her “squeaky clean image” was soon tarnished after inappropriate naked pictures of her appeared online which she supposedly sent to her then boyfriend co-star Zac Effron. She told the media that she was embarrassed over the situation and regretted taking the photographs in the first place…This case was just unlucky.
The last star was born on September 14th 1983. Throughout her troubled life Amy Winehouse seemed to be constantly battling issues including eating disorders, drug and alcohol addictions and a complicated love life. One of her first songs was titled “Rehab” her record company claimed that rehab was where she belonged..the song was her denial against the accusations. It was not long before the media realised that the did in fact have a problem. During a performance onstage she would appear to be in a drunken state, once she exited the stage to vomit. Winehouse was hospitalised due to drug and drinking binges became more frequent. A video leaked onto the internet which was supposedly her snorting cocaine causing a tabloid sensation and the police were forced to investigate the matter, charges were not brought against her.
Amy Winehouse was very open about her issues admitting that she struggled with eating disorders, self harming and depression. Her body appeared to be fragile and it was validated by her father to the media that she had been suffering with bulimia. During an interview for “Spin magazine” she began carving the name of her then boyfriend (Blake Fielder-Civil) into her stomach with a piece of glass. Not long after the couple were married there were claims that they had been fighting after they were pictured arm in arm both of them bloodied and bruised. Winehouse defended her husband saying that the injuries were self-inflicted.
In 2008 her mother Janis was interviewed and stated “I’ve known for a long time that my daughter has problems. But seeing it on-screen rammed it home. I realise my daughter could be dead within the year. We’re watching her kill herself, slowly.”
During a performance in June in 2011 she was booed of the stage and critics labelled the performance as ‘shambolic’ as once again she seemed to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol. In 2011 she was found dead in her London flat after a suspected drug overdose. When paramedics arrived she was ‘beyond help’ and pronounced dead at the scene being yet another young star to meet a tragic end. Later evidence has shown that there were no traces of drugs in her system and the actual cause of death is still uncertain.
In conclusion I would say that the media is partly to blame for the downfall of child stars however, not all self destruct through their wreck less behavior. Many young people have issues. The difference is children who are celebrities have their lives constantly followed and portrayed in the media being judged by many people. I cannot help but feel that the general public are to blame, after all we are the ones who buy the magazines!