Is a weird, tragic or poverty-stricken childhood a prerequisite to fame?
This week, Nick Carter added his name to to the long list of celebrities who enjoyed a brutal childhood with the publication of his memoir: Facing The Music and Living To Talk About It. Carter's book describes his parents' heavy drinking and includes such eyebrows-up stories as his account of how he had his own first alcoholic drink at age two. The Backstreet Boy, who later had struggles with alcohol abuse and an addiction to cocaine and prescription drugs, writes that his parents had an apartment above the bar they owned in Jamestown, New York.
"Family legend has it that when I was two years old, I crawled into one of the Yankee Rebel's liquor storage rooms where I was caught drinking for the first time," Carter writes.
"My parents always laughed at that. I laughed too, for a while, and then I didn't laugh at it anymore."
Carter says his parents were always worried about money, which likely contributed to their drinking, and that he started drinking regularly when he was a teenager. He tells radaronline, "I then moved on to drugs at 18 or 19, starting with marijuana and moving up to cocaine, Ecstasy, and prescription painkillers among other substances."
Whatever influence the parents might or might not have been, brother Aaron Carter also had addiction issues and sister Leslie died last year of a suspected overdose of prescription drugs.
A surprising number of celebrities had troubled parents or childhood experiences marked by tragedy or poverty. Christina Aguilera's father was abusive. 50 Cent was born to a 15-year-old, cocaine-dealing mother who was murdered when he was eight. Demi Moore's mother was an 18 year old drinker and was probably bipolar; Drew Barrymore's childhood woes, which include booze and drug issues by age nine, are well documented.
Peaches Geldof was six when her mother left her father for Michael Hutchence and 11 when her mother died of a heroin overdose. Jay-Z was a drug selling street kid. Leighton Meester was born in prison, where her mother was doing time for drug smuggling. Poverty was the common denominator in the formative years of Sarah Jessica Parker, Oprah, Hilary Swank, Stephen King, Tom Cruise and Jim Carrey, among many others.
Not sure where you'd file this youthful experience, but in other unusual celebrity childhood tales, Samuel L. Jackson told Playboy Magazine recently that he was about 10 or 11 years old when he lost his virginity. The actor explains that he used to go skinny dipping as a kid with relatives in Georgia and a neighbour's daughters would sometimes join them.
"Girls were interesting to me, period," says Jackson. "They could be fat, skinny, tall, short, ugly, beautiful -- as long as they were willing to do that thing."
Not exactly tragedy, that story -- but not comedy either, that's for sure.