So who is the biggest diva of them all?

Jennifer Lopez has a thing about sheets. Barbra Streisand is known as Ms Strident. And now Mariah Carey has topped even her own ludicrous demands
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Jennifer Lopez has a thing about sheets. Barbra Streisand is known as Ms Strident. And now Mariah Carey has topped even her own ludicrous demands

Mariah Carey

In London this week to promote her new album The Emancipation of Mimi, the 34-year-old Canadian demanded that the Knightsbridge hotel where she was staying put out a red carpet lined with 2ft-high white candles. Nothing wrong with that, except it was 2.30am. Carey also arrived more than an hour late at the Capital FM awards - where she was receiving a gong for her outstanding contribution to music - after breaking a nail. It is not the first time she has hit the headlines for her diva-ish ways. In January, she paid £1,500 to fly her Jack Russell terrier first-class from New York to Los Angeles because she was lonely.

She wants what? During the making of the film The Bachelor, Carey is said to have demanded eight cars and two bungalows. Her backstage "riders" have included a tea service for eight ("must use Poland Springs Water"), 12 fluffy bath towels and - no sniggering now - one large vanity mirror.

Who's in tow? Eleven minders have been accompanying her in London.

Can she flounce? She refused to descend a staircase at an awards ceremony, telling organisers "I don't do stairs".

What's her excuse? "I grew up in a shack, so I like a bit of comfort," she says.

Is she worth it? Have you ever met anyone who bought a Mariah Carey album?

Jennifer Lopez

After being ridiculed for her pre-nuptial agreement (which allegedly imposed financial penalties if Ben Affleck strayed), her $700 (£375) tubs of La Mer face cream and insistence on 250-thread cotton sheets, Lopez has spent the past year telling anyone who'll listen how down to earth she is.

She wants what? When playing an Aids benefit, she once insisted on a "white room, white flowers, white table and/or tablecloth, white drapes, white candles".

Who's in tow? A recent guest appearance on the sitcom Will and Grace required 75 aides. Staff include a specialist eyebrow assistant and coat-handler.

Can she flounce? She once said of Gwyneth Paltrow: "Tell me what she's been in. I swear to God, I don't remember anything she was in."

What's her excuse? "I have the 'stardom glow'. See, I grew up watching real movie stars - Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe."

Is she worth it? She was when she played opposite George Clooney in Out of Sight. Now she wants David Beckham to appear in her new video. Oh dear.

Bette Davis

When the queen of mean arrived in Hollywood, the studio worker sent to meet her failed to pick her out in the crowd: "Nobody who looked like an actress got off that train," he complained. By the time she died in 1989, her sharp tongue had helped turn her into a screen legend.

She wanted what? While filming Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Davis insisted on having Coke rather than Pepsi in her dressing-room. Her arch-rival Joan Crawford's husband, the chief executive of Pepsi, had just died and Crawford was still on the Pepsi board.

Who was in tow? She once employed a man just to light her cigarettes.

Could she flounce? When Warner Brothers didn't offer her the roles she wanted, she sued the studio - unheard of in the 1930s. She showed she could also nurture a grudge with a lifetime of acidic one-liners about Crawford.

Was she worth it? Her gravestone says "She did it the hard way", but she made it look easy.

Diana Ross

Whether allegedly assaulting a security guard at Heathrow after setting off a metal detector or demanding that Sheena Easton's name be removed from the Vegas venue they were both playing, Ross has defined the term "high-maintenance".

She wants what? Just her hotel room painted the colour of her eyes.

Who's in tow? Whoever they are, they're not guaranteed to be there for long. She once went through 40 secretaries in a year.

Can she flounce? She's Elton John without the sense of humour. When an Atlantic City pizza delivery boy said to her "Diana, it's an honour to serve you", she replied "Please call me Miss Ross".

What's her excuse? "Just because I have my standards they think I'm a bitch."

Is she worth it? No.

Cleopatra

Egypt's last pharaoh knew how to make an entrance - delivering herself to Julius Caesar inside a rolled-up carpet. Her relationships with him and Mark Antony make the Jen-Ben-Gwyneth thing seem tame. And any woman who kills herself with a poison asp has a certain sense of style.

She wanted what? The ass's milk baths set a standard for future diva-ish health fads. Strangely enough, horse's milk is becoming popular as a skin treatment, with a litre costing around £7.

Who was in tow? When Antony summoned her to Tarsus, Cleopatra, attired as the goddess Venus, arrived on a silver-oared barge sailed by maids dressed as sea nymphs.

Could she flounce? She had her sister murdered.

What's her excuse? Cleopatra's feminine wiles were employed to save her dynasty.

Was she worth it? Mark Antony thought so, falling on his sword when he heard - falsely - that she was dead.

Elton John

The figures tell their own story: £293,000 in two months spent on flowers, £3,500 on a wig, £220,000 on matching Bentleys for himself and Canadian boyfriend David Furnish. Like all divas, Elton is impeccably connected; friend of Diana and godfather to Brooklyn Beckham and Sean Lennon.

He wants what? When you've got £170m, luxury is not enough. Bothered by the breeze at his hotel, he asked staff: "Can't you do something about the wind?"

Who's in tow? Furnish, trying to calm things. "David is very docile and stoic," Elton says. "I throw the cheapest thing [at him] I can."

Can he flounce? In Furnish's 1996 documentary Tantrums and Tiaras, Elton storms off the tennis court after a woman shouts yoo-hoo. He has hit at Madonna for lip-synching, shouted at Tina Turner for criticising him, and called photographers "rude, vile, pigs".

What's his excuse? "The tantrums don't happen so much. They're more to do with self-esteem, not to do with shouting at people because things have gone wrong."

Is he worth it? Essential now that the Queen Mother's gone.

Barbra Streisand

Ms Strident, as she is known to some of those who have worked with her, apparently demands peach toilet paper and hand towels in her dressing room to match her peachy complexion - but not all her desires are so modest.

She wants what? During the American television premier of Prince of Tides, Streisand thought the adverts were too loud, so she phoned the NBC network to complain.

Can she flounce? While staying at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Streisand is said to have demanded that all hotel workers enter and leave her room backwards and not make eye contact.

What's her excuse? "I am simple, complex, generous, selfish, unattractive, beautiful, lazy, and driven."

Is she worth it? By a nose.

Elizabeth Taylor

"My mother says I didn't open my eyes for eight days after I was born, but when I did the first thing I saw was an engagement ring. I was hooked." It's not just the multiple marriages and the passion for jewels that makes Taylor a diva, though. She never reads a whole script - just her part in it - and was the first celebrity to admit checking into the Betty Ford clinic.

She wants what? When Taylor stayed at the Dorchester in London in 2000, she demanded her suite be repainted lilac.

Who's in tow? Enough staff to carry the 20 large suitcases she usually travels with.

Can she flounce? When she was invited to Buckingham Palace to be made a Dame of the British Empire, her bodyguards asked to security-check the building. When the palace politely refused, Taylor is said to have replied, "Do you know who I am?"

What's her excuse? "I have a woman's body and a child's emotions."

Is she worth it? Not according to Marlene Dietrich, who referred to her as "that British tart with big tits".

Maria Callas

The soprano's voice was extraordinary. But without her disastrous love life, the struggles with her weight (which she allegedly kept down by eating tapeworms) and suspected suicide, would the legend of "La Divina" have been quite so potent? Now the film director Franco Zeffirelli has even suggested she may have been murdered.

She wanted what? She once sent a private plane to Milan to pick up her lucky charm, a tiny oil painting of the Holy Family. Innocent days.

Who was in tow? Aristotle Onassis, with whom she conducted a long affair.

Could she flounce? When her mother wrote asking for financial help, Callas replied: "Don't come to us with your financial troubles. I had to bark for my money and you are young enough to work too. If you can't make enough money to live on, you can jump out of the window or drown."

What was her excuse? "If I have stepped on some people at times because I am at the top, it couldn't be helped. What should I do if someone gets hurt ... retire?"

Was she worth it? There's no arguing with that voice.

David Beckham

Not yet in the Premier League of divadom, the England captain is making a late-season bid for promotion.

He wants what? To be left alone.

Who's in tow? Four armed bodyguards protect his family at their mansion in Madrid.

Can he flounce? After spotting photographers among autograph-hunters this week, he shouted: "Don't take any pictures of me" and dashed for the fire exit.

Is he worth it? That's a question for the Real Madrid board.

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