Events That Turned Babies Into Overnight Celebrities
By Brittany Frederick
Events That Turned Babies Into Overnight Celebrities
These days, no one can avoid the spotlight – not even kids. Whether an offspring of a celebrity bloodline, a product of a media scam, or a victim of an unusual situation, babies too can command the world’s attention. Just ask Brett and Amy Baldwin of the series Big Baby, who get more than they bargained for when they adopt 200-pound Baby Wayne. But Wayne isn’t the only famous baby. Check out these other tots who ended up becoming household names before they could read their own press.
Big Baby – Big Day
1. The “Octomom” Controversy
Nadya Suleman’s octuplets stuck in the public consciousness for a long time… perhaps a lot longer than they should have. When they came into the world in late January 2009, we were fascinated by the miracle of eight births. But that goodwill quickly soured when the fame and freebies seemed to go to the new mom’s head. She’s gone through three PR reps and has caused a stir with some of her remarks. In January 2011, she reportedly told InTouch of her brood, “They disgust me. Obviously, I love them, but I wish I had not had them.” In June 2011, it was announced that the doctor who had performed her in vitro fertilization would have his medical license revoked in July.
2. Toddlers & Tiaras
Around the same time that “Octomom” was giving birth, TLC began to air Toddlers & Tiaras, a series focusing on the controversial world of child beauty pageants. It followed various young pageant contestants and their families, giving attention to sometimes outrageous behavior. The second episode, for example, highlighted a five-year-old with fake eyelashes and a spray tan. Currently, the show is in its fourth season, which began in mid-June 2011.
3. Modern Family’s Baby Switch
It’s not uncommon for child actors to start very young or be replaced when appropriate. But when it was announced in early July 2011 that the ABC sitcom Modern Family was looking to recast the part of adopted baby Lily – currently played by twins Jaden and Ella Hiller – there was a surprising amount of discussion. The original Entertainment Weekly article has over 160 comments from interested parties, which is notable because some of them offer critiques of the acting of the two tots. Even babies aren’t free from public opinion!
4. Putting your Newborn on the Internet
A study done by Internet security company AVG polled several major countries and found that the average age at which a child acquires an online presence is six months, with 81% of them having one before they’ve turned two! Now, some of the figures are harmless – like how the majority of subjects polled said they uploaded baby pictures to share with loved ones – but what is a little freaky is the 7% of people who created email addresses and/or social networking profiles for their young ones. (To be fair, I know someone who has a profile for his dog.) Do we really think our kids need to have a Facebook or a Twitter account before they’re out of their crib?
5. The Genderless Approach
In May 2011, a Toronto couple made the controversial decision to raise their baby without revealing its gender to anyone but close family. Kathy Witterick and David Stocker are bringing up Storm but not telling if their third child is a boy or a girl. An early article about the family explains the rationale behind the decision, saying that the couple “believes they are giving their children the freedom to choose who they want to be, unconstrained by social norms about males and females.” That was met with plenty of attention from all over the world, including People, the OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) TV channel, and the Australian version of news magazine 60 Minutes.
6. Dramatic Adoptions
In the early 90’s there were a pair of very public custody battles between adoptive and biological parents that captured the nation’s interest. In 1991, Illinois couple Jay and Kim Warburton adopted Danny Kirchner with the consent of his biological mother. However, Danny’s mother had told his biological father that the child had died. When Otakar Kirchner discovered that wasn’t the case, he went to court to get his son back. The battle for Danny (who became known as “Baby Richard” in the media) went all the way to the Illinois State Supreme Court. In April 1995, Danny was returned to his biological parents and never saw or spoke to his adoptive parents again.
A similar situation occurred around the same time in Michigan, known as the “Baby Jessica” case. The young child – named Anna by her biological mother but Jessica by her adoptive parents – was adopted from her biological mother, who had not informed her father of his paternity. She later changed her mind and told him about his child, and he went to court to gain custody of his daughter. In August 1993, the supreme courts of Iowa and Michigan ordered the child returned to her biological parents. An update in 2003 quoted Anna as saying she had no memory of her adoptive parents.
7. Having Michael Jackson as a Dad
While visiting Berlin in 2002, Michael Jackson brought his newborn child Prince Michael Jackson II (better known as “Blanket”) out onto the balcony of his hotel while fans congregated below. The baby was briefly held over the balcony railing, four stories above ground, which earned the singer criticism from the media. Jackson later apologized, referring to the moment as “a terrible mistake.”
8. People Launches Baby Blog
It’s not enough for People magazine to cover celebrities – they’ve now devoted a full section of their website to the children of the rich and famous. Here, you can find out exactly what Halle Berry’s daughter is wearing and where to get it (if you can afford it) and see pics of Jennifer Garner out on the town with her little one. The popular mag has plenty of candid snaps of famous parents and their children, the latter of whom are mostly blissfully ignorant of the idea that people the world over already wonder what they’re up to. But it’s not entirely celebrity fluff. The blog also includes articles on getting your kids the latest Harry Potter toys and other tidbits that might be interesting to non-famous parents.
With the rapidly increasing power of the media, these are just a few examples of what’s sure to be even more stories of babies and children in the public eye. Apparently fame can start at any age!
Big Baby – Happy Father’s Day From Big Baby
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Brittany Frederick is an award-winning freelance entertainment journalist who reaches millions of people around the world every day with her unique blend of sophisticated analysis, sarcastic humor, and varied life experience. She maintains her own blog (DigitalAirwaves.net) and you can follow her on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).