Stars' children pay the high price of fame

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Indy Lifestyle Online
PITY Sir John Hall, the reluctant returning chairman at Newcastle United, back on the board at St James' Park after the Toongate scandal toppled his son Douglas. Douglas Hall and Freddie Shepherd finally jumped from their posts as chairman and vice-chairman before they were pushed by several thousand irate Geordies following allegations of cocaine exploits with Spanish prostitutes and boasts of ripping off fans.

Sir John is not the only famous daddy to be experiencing a reverse of the old adage "the sins of the father will be visited on the son". As actor Dustin Hoffman partied at the Oscars in Los Angeles this week, his 32-year-old step-daughter Karina faced imprisonment in a British prison for stealing cheques worth pounds 5,358 from the Cambridgeshire company where she worked. In mitigation the court was told Karina had always felt intimidated by her father's wealth and fame.

The list of self-destructive off-spring of celebrities is a long one. From the death by heroin overdose of Olivia Channon, daughter of the former Tory minister Paul, to the suicide of actor Paul Newman's son Allan, life as the child of a superstar would appear to be a curse rather than a blessing.

Professor Petruska Clarkson, a consultant psychologist and author specialising in the study of fame, says children of celebrities often have a rough deal. "They are constantly on display and never really seen for who they are," she said. "Other children will say: 'you're so and so's child', and from that moment they cannot take any of their human relationships for granted. The child will find it very difficult to know whether people really like them or if they are just trying to get some reflected glory and get close to the famous parent."

Too often children respond to their parent's fame by rebelling. The ultimate example is the Brando family. In 1990 Marlon Brando's son Christian was sentenced to 10 years for killing the lover of his half- sister, Cheyenne, who was pregnant at the time. Cheyenne's baby was born a drug addict and she never recovered from the trauma, committing suicide three years later.

Professor Clarkson says the high instances of suicide and the numbers of drug and alcohol addicts among celebrity off-spring are a result of the child's inability to deal with their parent's fame: "They can't be bothered to engage anymore so they give up or become drug addicts." Among the many to have gone down this route is Victoria Sellers, daughter of Peter and Britt Ekland.

When the children of celebrities do err, the world is quick to find out about it. "I would ask that people be gentle with them, because everyone has made mistakes," says Professor Clarkson.