What's a Kid to Do When Dad Is a Superstar?

By , Contributor
Lots of kids idolize their dads - at least when they’re young. But what are kids to do when they idolize their dads, and then as they grow up, they gradually realize that everybody else does, too?

That’s the problem that Stephen Bogart (b. 1949), son of Humphrey, and Jennifer Grant (b. 1966), daughter of Cary, had to deal with. They represent two different generations of children of show business legends, and both have written books about their dilemma: Stephen Bogart’s Bogart. In Search of My Father; and Jennifer Grant’s Good Stuff. A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant.

stephen-bogart.jpgStephen Bogart has one of the great opening paragraphs in all of autobiographical literature: “When I was a kid, I had it all. Just like Bogie and Bacall. In fact, I had them, too. Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart were my parents.”

It wasn’t just Bogie and Bacall. When he went back to the house where he grew up, he had an intensely Proustian moment: “God, I think, the people who used to laugh in this room. Frank Sinatra, John Huston, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Garland…”

It all came to a crashing halt when his father died in 1959, and much of his life since then has been devoted to coming to terms with who his father was, fashioning an identity for himself that was independent of his father.  It is neither his fault nor his father’s fault that he’s had such a hard life.

Jennifer Grant.jpgGive Jennifer Grant credit for some honesty, at least.  She says that when she was young, she had a goal in life: “I wanted Dad to myself.”  Talk about the impossible dream! Fortunately for us, Cary Grant belonged to the world, not just to her. She didn’t -- couldn’t -- have him to herself.

Although she doesn’t state the obvious implication for her chances of creating a rewarding relationship, she quotes a friend who does: “That’s your problem. That’s why you haven’t found a man…How could anyone live up to that?”

Indeed, the prospect of having Cary Grant as a father-in-law would intimidate even a man with a lot of self-confidence. So how did she cope? We’ll never know for sure, because she’s not telling: “Let’s just say that I’ve been through some paradigm shifts since childhood.” What we do know is that she’s been married once, to Randall Zisk; the marriage lasted three years. In 2008 she gave birth to a son by an unnamed father.

Here’s a final thought: There are two daughters of superstars who could write fascinating books, but probably won’t. One is Kelly Stewart, daughter of James. Her dad was one of the greatest members of the Greatest Generation, and we’d like to know him better.

The greatest prize would be a book for which the author could get a multi-million dollar advance, and probably a movie deal, too. I’m pretty sure that she’ll never write it, though. That would be the autobiography of Lisa Marie Presley.

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