Having a kid, and the responsibilities that come with parenthood, seems to be a somewhat different experience for celebrities. For whatever reason, many of them appear to approach the prospect much more casually then the rest of us can afford. The endless parade of international adoptions certainly doesn’t help that image, as the actual kids are often seen more as accessories rather then children. And with a divorce rate even higher then the general public, this can leave confused children split between two hectic calendars, if not coasts.
Most often it’s the famous mother whose suddenly parenting solo when things go south. And naturally she has to do so with the whole world watching. One of the more dramatic cases was with actress Mary Louis Parker, who was left holding the cradle at seven months pregnant. This after seven years together with actor Billy Crudup, who cheated with co-star Claire Danes. They met during the hottest summer on record in England, on location to shoot the period romance Stage Beauty (2004). On the betrayal and breakup, Parker has remained steadfast, telling More Magazine “I’ve never commented on the situation, and I won’t because it’s not fair to my son. Who wins?” Danes and Crudup would soon part ways, and Parker would go on to adopt an Ethiopian daughter solo. Romantically she’s been sporadically linked to Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who played her late husband on Showtime’s Weeds.
Halle Berry became a single mom suddenly in 2010 when things didn’t work out with her boyfriend, model Gabriel Aubry. They’d met 5 years earlier working together on a Versace photo shoot, but never married. They each now share custody of four-year old daughter Nahla. In March she was confirmed to be engaged again. This will be Halle’s third marriage, this time to actor Olivier Martinez, who smoothly announced the news while promoting his new restaurant opening in South Beach, Miami. Ironically, Halle was asked about ever marrying again while still dating Aubry. “No. I’m done,” she told Harper’s Bazaar, “I happened to find a person who feels done too.”
Absent Hollywood fathers usually garner some negative PR for their behavior, and it can often change their tune quick. Eddie Murphy was in the midst of a career rebirth in 2006, riding high with a performance in Dreamgirls that earned him an Oscar nod. That same year he met Melanie Brown, aka Scary Spice of The Spice Girls. Their short-lived romance led to a daughter named Angel Iris Murphy Brown. It also led to a prolonged court battle over true paternity. After DNA resolved that Eddie was in fact the Daddy – Melanie told New! Magazine, “He never bothers with his daughter. I mean, what kind of man is that?” Soon after that they agreed to a child support settlement reportedly valued around $7M. The girl, it’s worth noting, was born on Eddie’s 43rd birthday.
The question has long been raised about whether this ongoing trend sends the wrong message to young women. During another presidential campaign where women’s issues took center stage, in 1992 then Vice President Dan Quayle chastised the CBS’s sitcom Murphy Brown, when the title character became a single expectant mother. In a speech he said “It doesn’t help matters when prime-time TV has Murphy Brown… mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.” This May the Washington Post concluded that 20-years later, Quayle may have had a point – as the number of children born outside of marriage has jumped 10% during that time.
Parenthood is a massive undertaking that doesn’t fit everyone’s goals and lifestyle. Which is something to seriously take into consideration before impregnating your partner. The responsibility for raising healthy, balanced kids should be on both parents, however we don’t yet live in that world. Moms, whether famous or not, are usually the ones called upon to take the lead. And that’s usually for the best. Still, it raises the serious question that, if given the choice, would you actually want to grow up in such a turbulent and transparent fishbowl? It’s a genuinely difficult question to answer, were a judge ever to ask it… Who would you rather be raised by – Scary Spice or Eddie Murphy?
Will King is a television and media critic who splits his time as a stand up comic. He collects conspiracy theories and claims to have invented Teflon. In his spare time he follows presidential politics and all traffic signs. He lives in Charlotte, NC.
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