One of the hardest things for any celebrity to do is find someone whom they can trust with their money. All celebs hope that they fall into the hands of the right manager who is willing to manage their star’s money with the utmost of care, but trusting a stranger to handle their money is not as easy as it sounds. This is why many superstars go the route of letting a family member, namely a parent (especially when the celeb happens to still be a minor), control their funds and manage them instead. As history tells us, though, sometimes, even that is not the best route for a superstar to go through.
History has more than enough examples of parents who not only mismanaged their celeb child’s money but also flat out stole from their kid’s funds. Again, this is especially the case when the kid is still a minor and under the age of 18. What sucks about celebrities reaching fame at a young age is that they aren’t given all of the money that they earn in their career. That privilege is given to their parents, who rarely (if ever) take into consideration the needs of their child or what the child may want to use their money for in the future once they become old enough to spend it wisely, so the parents either hold onto it or completely waste it and because of this, some child stars never see a dime of their earnings when they’re kids. Child stars aren’t the only ones afforded this burden as celebrities fully into their adult years have suffered from parents profiting off of their fame in some way or another, whether that be making money off of their kid’s likeness/image/name, or simply constantly hassling their children about money. To go more in-depth on the matter, we’re going to talk about 15 instances where parents profited off of their kid’s fame.
15. Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino
Given Jersey Shore alum Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino‘s unique physique, it should be difficult for his father to profit from his own likeness when his father’s physique is so alternatively different (to put it politely). Yet, that’s exactly what happened in 2011. Although his dad never profited from his son’s fame by pretending to be him per se, he did manage his own website where he called himself “The Confirmation.” The site was laced with Situation-like quips and phrases. The Situation had to put his foot down at one point and demanded his father to stop profiting from his name, likeness, and image. When his dad refused to comply, he threatened to sue. The lawsuit wound up getting dropped when The Confirmation agreed to shut down the site and cough up $5,000 to his son.
14. Leighton Meester
In 2011, Gossip Girl alum Leighton Meester decided to sue her mother, Constance, after her mom abused the star’s trust in her finances. Meester provided her mother with a monthly allowance under the impression that her mom would spend the funds on Leighton’s sickly younger brother. In reality, not only was said brother’s medical expenses being ignored by their mother, but Constance had also spent all of her daughter’s money on getting her own medical procedures done (i.e. botox and hair extensions). Her mom wound up countersuing on grounds that Leighton allegedly breached a verbal contract promising $10,000 a month and because her mother thought that she deserved more money on account of her “sacrificing her own happiness” to allow her daughter to move to LA. Still, a judge decided that Leighton had a stronger argument, and she won the lawsuit in 2012.
13. Kobe Bryant
Sometimes, when a proud mom sees her baby become famous, she might wear or even pass around some of her famous kid’s merchandise. In the case of Kobe Bryant‘s mother, Pamela Bryant was flat out profiting off of her son’s fame just to make a quick buck. Or a few quick bucks, to be more accurate, given that Pamela Bryant made $450,000 off of auctioning her son’s memorabilia in 2013. She claimed that she was under the impression that since her son had left the items in her home, she was entitled to ownership of those items and sought to sell them. Kobe thought differently and decided to sue his mom. A settlement was reached allowing the sale of less than 10% of the original items, and both of Kobe’s parents issued a written apology to their son.
12. Aaron Carter
Back when he was still just a tween pop sensation at age 16, Aaron Carter realized that his parents didn’t seem to have his best interests in mind when it came to managing his money. Jane and Robert Carter had together managed young Aaron’s career for the better part of a decade, but Aaron soon realized that his mother had taken more than $100,000 of her son’s career earnings without asking for permission. To add insult to injury, even Aaron’s brother, Nick, was attempting to sever ties with his parents on similar grounds. The elder Carters’ meddling with their son’s money would also explain why Aaron had to file for bankruptcy in 2013, though he was able to settle his bankruptcy debt in 2014.
11. Amanda Bynes
At a time when she was still a child starlet coasting off of the fame she found from All That and The Amanda Show, Amanda Bynes tried to emancipate herself from her parents. Though she quickly withdrew her petition before any papers were signed, Bynes was long estranged from her parents early into her career. One of the issues which smeared their relationship was that Bynes believed her parents had mismanaged her money. At the time, Bynes was spending a lot of time with her Nickelodeon producer, Dan Schneider, and his wife, Lisa Lillien. Bynes originally hoped to live with the generous couple, but in due time, Bynes reconciled with her parents.
10. Mischa Barton
Mischa Barton‘s legal troubles with her family have been well documented at this point. In 2015, Mischa Barton pursued a lawsuit against her own mother/manager, Nuala Barton. The reason for suing came when Mischa was under the belief that Nuala had mismanaged her daughter’s career earnings by keeping 10% of her commission. Even in light of accusations that Nuala had stolen her daughter’s money to pay for a $7.8 million house, there were not enough facts to support the claim and not enough evidence for Mischa to win a case against her mom. At least not yet. For all we know, the case could be ongoing. But Mischa has recently been put inside of a mental institution. In light of these recent events, it may be safe to say that the case has been put on hold for now.
9. CM Punk
Former WWE wrestler and full-time Straight Edge Superstar CM Punk has openly talked about his father’s alcohol addiction and why said addiction was enough to put Punk off drinking permanently, but he rarely ever talks about his mother. Perhaps it’s because he’s even more estranged from his mother. Punk’s mother suffers from bipolar disorder and often threatened to kill herself if Punk didn’t give her money. Punk had reportedly given her a total of $100,000 in total over the years. When he finally cut her off, his mother sent a slew of nasty emails threatening to expose embarrassing details about his past (i.e. arrests from high school) and accusing him of not caring about his family. In return, Punk slapped his mother with a restraining order on grounds of years worth of financial demands, harassment, and mental abuse.
8. LeAnn Rimes
A celebrity surely must be living a rough life when they have to worry about their manager and their parent possibly abusing their money. Take Grammy-winning singer LeAnn Rimes, for example. In 2000, she was forced to file a lawsuit against both her father, Wilbur, and her manager, Lyle Walker. She accused both men of taking advantage of the songstress’ own money over the course of five years. This was no small amount either as both men exploited her fame and demanded ludicrously unreasonable charges in these years which amounted to $8 million in royalties. Despite the bad blood between the three, the case was dropped in 2002 after all parties agreed to an undisclosed settlement. Rimes seems to have reconciled with her father as she invited the man to her wedding.
7. Jackie Coogan
Jackie Coogan became a star at the young age of 7 when Charlie Chaplin recruited him as his partner in crime for the 1921 classic, The Kid. A year later, Coogan snagged the title role of Oliver Twist and became the biggest child actor of his era. By the time he turned 18, not only did he retain his celebrity status with 19 films under his belt, but he also earned over $4 million, which was a big deal back in the day. Unfortunately, because he was a minor, Coogan never saw a dime. All of his earnings went to his mother and stepfather, who wasted all of his money on fur coats, jewelry, diamonds, expensive cars, and other luxuries. Coogan sued his parents but received a measly $126,000. The case earned the attention of California lawmakers, who, in response, enacted the California Child Actor’s Bill, better known as Coogan’s Law. This states that a child actor’s employer must set aside 15% of a child actor’s earnings in a trust fund for the actor.
6. Corey Feldman
There was once a time in the ’80s when Corey Feldman was one of the biggest child stars in Hollywood. This was apparent to everyone who watched his meteoric rise to the top at the time, particularly his parents who dipped one too many fingers in Feldman’s money jar when he was a kid. His parents had wrongfully taken and wasted young Feldman’s money. Feldman once claimed that as a child, he was worth $1 million, but by the time a judge ordered court-ordered bank records to be brought forward, only $40,000 remained. Feldman was so fed up with his parents constantly meddling with the money he earned from acting that he decided to successfully get emancipated from his parents.
5. Chris Warren Jr.
Not many people will remember Chris Warren Jr. by his name alone, but High School Musical fans will certainly recognize him by his face when he was Zeke from the film franchise. Over the past few years, we haven’t seen too much of Warren on the big screen, and much of that has to do with the fact that the former Disney star had spent much of those years embroiled in a legal battle with his parents. His mom and dad, Christopher Warren Sr. and soap opera star Brook Kerr, were accused of dipping into their son’s trust fund, and enough evidence was found to support said claim. When Warren’s parents were proven guilty, a judge forced them to pay their son $300,000 that was deemed rightfully his.
4. Macaulay Culkin
By the time he reached the age of 10, Macaulay Culkin was a bonafide millionaire thanks to Home Alone. After starring in both Home Alone movies, Culkin managed to snag a hefty $17 million profit altogether. However, given that he was a minor at the time, he wasn’t allowed to have his hands on any of the spoils that came with his fame. Those riches were afforded to and spent directly by his parents, though, when Culkin came of age, he sued his parents for rights to his money. This grew even more complicated given how his parents had divorced at this point and all three parties were laying claim to the cash. Because of all of the chaos that this situation produced, the judge decided that any and all riches needed to temporarily be placed in the hands of Culkin’s accountant, Billy Breitner, until Macaulay turned 18.
3. Jena Malone
At this point in her career, Jena Malone is best recognized from her Hollywood turns in films like Donnie Darko and The Hunger Games series, but long before any of that, in 1999, she was in a morbid legal battle with her mother, Debbie Malone. Back when she was just known as the kid from Contact, at age 14, she sued her mother for living off of her profits from acting and mismanaging her money. Malone struggled to get away from her mother at a young age, having to live on her own occasionally throughout the years. When the lawsuit was finalized and she received whatever earnings her mother had kept from her, Malone was also able to win legal emancipation in early 2000.
2. Shirley Temple
Shirley Temple was certainly the biggest child star of her time, and some would argue that she was the biggest actress to ever grace Hollywood at such a young age. By the time she reached the age of 12, Shirley Temple had starred in 44 films and was Warner Bros.’s biggest box-office draw. Despite the millions that she earned for her work, she hardly saw much of it because she was a minor. All of her earnings went to her mother, who only let Temple keep a $20 allowance from her weekly $10,000 check. When she became an adult, Temple was shocked to learn that in her lifetime, while under the strict tutelage of her mother, she had only seen $44,000 from her $3.2 million overall career earnings.
1. Gary Coleman
Thanks to his role as Arnold in Diff’rent Strokes, Gary Coleman is arguably the biggest and most popular child star of any era. Too bad that he didn’t have much more than a dime to show for it. Granted, there was a point when Coleman was making $100,000 per episode, but all of that money was entrusted to his adoptive parents and a financial adviser who failed to place Coleman’s earnings in a proper trust fund. Convinced that both parties wasted it all away, Coleman decided to sue them all for misappropriating his money. He only earned $1,280,000. Coleman would go on to blame his parents and adviser for placing him in the financial troubles that he struggled through later in life.
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