Experts have stated that it costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $190,000 to raise a child to adulthood. Although some people dispute that figure, there is no doubt that, over the long haul, passing on your DNA can be one of the most expensive decisions that you will ever make. This is why I was particularly interested in my colleague Zac's recent post on Britney Spears' finances. You see, Brit's parents have clearly stumbled across the ultimate way to make sex pay. Forget about prostitution, blackmail, or becoming a trophy wife: real pros simply pimp out their kids.
It's not like this is a particularly new discovery, either. In fact, looking over the annals of showbiz, I find that the industry is littered with integrity-challenged parents or guardians who seem to have little or no trouble cashing in on their children's talent, cuteness, or marketability. Here, then, is a quick rundown of four of history's more questionable showbiz moms and dads. If I missed one of your faves, please feel free to send me a response. I'm always looking to extend my knowledge of human depravity!
Mary Hilton: In 1908, an English barmaid named Kate Skinner gave birth to a pair of beautiful little girls. She was unmarried, however, and wasn't sure how to take care of them. Adding to the difficulty, the girls, Violet and Daisy, were, literally, joined at the hip: their pelvises were fused, and their hips and buttocks were attached. Recognizing the entertainment value of a pair of Siamese twins, Kate's boss, Mary Hilton, bought the girls from Kate, gave them her own last name, and began making money off them. Using a combination of physical abuse and economic slavery (the twins didn't receive any money from their performances), Mary and her husband managed to control the girls for over 20 years. Finally, in 1931, the Hilton sisters sued their "managers" for $100,000 and independence. Within a year, they had recast themselves as dancing flappers and were pursuing a career of their own design.