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10 Celebrities Who Had Traumatic Childhood Experiences

celebrities who had traumatic childhood

We easily assume that the life of a celebrity is a bed full of roses, but behind all this money and fame there are many tragic and awful experiences that we are unaware of. When childhood is supposed to be full of innocence and feelings of happiness, some celebrities have witnessed unimaginable things. Some celebrities’ parents were drug addicts, some were the victim of sexual abuse, some were poor. These celebrities have turned their life around after going through these shocking incidents in the past. Let’s take a look at 10 celebrities who had a traumatic childhood.

1. Terrence Howard

When Terrence was two years old, he saw his father stabbing a man to death in a department store Santa Claus line. Both his father and mother physically abused him. He divorced his parents and lived on welfare at the age of 16. Later, he pursued his acting career and was nominated for an Oscar for the American drama Hustle & Flow.

Terrence Howard
Terrence Howard. Image credit: Rena Schild/Shutterstock

Terrence Howard is a famous, now 52-year-old, American actor. He gained popularity from his role in Dead Presidents. He made his acting debut on a TV show in 1992, “The Jacksons: An American Dream.” He was also nominated for an Oscar for his excellent performance in the American drama Hustle & Flow. Despite all this success, he had a traumatic childhood. 

He was just two years old when his father, Tyrone Howard, took him and his two other siblings and his pregnant mother to see Santa Claus at a Cleveland, Ohio department store. While waiting in line, Terrence’s father got in an argument with another man who had accused his father of cutting in front of him in the line.

The argument turned violent, and Tyrone stabbed the other man to death. He spent 11 months in prison. In an interview, he said that we were just standing there in line, and things happened so quickly that the blood was all over our jackets before he knew it. He was also abused by his parents.

At the age of 16, Terrence separated from his parents and supported himself through welfare. At 18, he moved to New York to pursue his career in acting and started doing small roles in TV shows. (1, 2)

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2. Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron grew up with her parents on a farm. Her father was a drunk and used to abuse her mother. One time, her father came alongside his brother and started threatening to shoot Charlize and her mother. In self-defense, her mother killed Charlize’s father and shot his brother.

Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron. Image credit: DFree/Shutterstock

Charlize Theron is a 46-year-old academy award-winning actress known for her dazzling beauty and her well-known roles in The Devil’s Advocate, Monster, and The Cider House Rules. Although the road to being this successful and talented actress was not easy. She was born in South Africa and went through a difficult childhood.

Theron’s father was a drunk and used to abuse her mother. One night, when she was 15 years old, her father and his brother were returning home after drinking. Theron’s aunt came to the house to warn that something bad was going to happen, and her father along with his brother was heading towards home.

When her father arrived home, he began shooting at the gate, then at the kitchen door, and later started banging at Charlize’s bedroom door. He started threatening to kill both Charlize and her mother.

When he started shooting at Charlize’s door, her mother grabbed a gun and shot both him and his brother. Charlize’s father died and his brother was wounded. Her mother never faced prosecution because she acted in self-defense. (1, 2)

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3. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah grew up in a poor family in Mississippi. She was regularly beaten with a stick as corporal punishment for her bad behavior. Beginning at age nine, she was molested by her family members and family friends. She got pregnant at age 14, but her premature baby died. She built an empire from nothing and is the wealthiest African-American woman in the US.

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey. Image credit: Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

Oprah Winfrey is a 67-year-old self-made billionaire. She is one of the most-watched daytime show hosts on television. She is famous for her influential and natural style with guests on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.” She is the wealthiest African-American woman in the US and has struggled immensely since her childhood.

Oprah hails from a poor family in Mississippi. She used to live with her maternal grandmother since her unmarried parents separated soon after her birth. She used to jump from one one-parent home to another. Her mother wasn’t financially stable and used to work multiple jobs.

When Oprah was nine years old, a few family friends took advantage of her and sexually abuse her when Oprah’s mother was out. Later, she was also sexually abused by other family members. Her mother didn’t pay attention to Oprah which led her in the wrong direction. She used to steal money, run away, and date boys.

At the age of 14, Oprah got pregnant, but her premature baby died within weeks of birth. Slowly, she raised herself up from nothing, She used to work as an anchor on multiple news channels, then she did a few talk shows as a host. On 8 September 1986, she started hosting the “Oprah Winfrey Show.” It was like this that she climbed the ladder to success. (1, 2)

4. Shania Twain

Shania Twain is from a poor family in which she had five siblings. She often went to school hungry. She witnessed her father abusing her mother. She was 22 when her parents died in a car accident, and she was left alone to take care of her siblings. She used her singing skills to earn a living for the family.

Shania Twain
Shania Twain. Image credit: lev radin/Shutterstock

Shania Twain is a 56-year-old Canadian country-pop singer known for her famous songs  such as “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?”, “Any Man of Mine,” and her album The Woman in Me. She is a Grammy-award-winning singer who had a difficult childhood and the music was her rescue.

Shania was from a poor family and had five siblings. She often went to school hungry and used to get jealous of her friends who had appetizing lunches. Her stepfather used to physically abuse her mother which traumatized her.

She went to school scared that her mother would die. When she was 21 years old, her parents died in a car accident, which left her the only breadwinner in the family. She worked hard and did manual jobs to feed her family. She used to sneak out with her dog and guitar to the forest to write songs. She struggled for years and finally became one of the top pop singers. (source)

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5. Kelsey Grammer

When Kelsey was two years old, his parents got divorced. His father was murdered by a home intruder in front of his family when he was just 12. In 1975, Kelsey’s sister was abducted, raped, and murdered, which left him devastated. Two years later, his half-brother died in a scuba diving accident.

Kelsey Grammer
Kelsey Grammer. Image credit: Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

Kelsey Grammer is a 66-year-old actor, comedian, writer, singer, voice actor, producer, and activist. His best career performance was in NBC sitcoms “Cheers” and “Frasier where he portrayed Dr. Frasier Crane.

He received multiple Emmy awards for performing the same character in different shows. Although behind his charming smile, the tragic childhood experiences which he witnessed is always present.

Kelsey’s parents got divorced when he was two years old. He witnessed his father’s death when he was just 12 years old. On April 25, 1968, a man named Arthur B. Niles set Kelsey’s father’s car on fire. When his father went outside, he was shot by Arthur twice.

When Kelsey was 20 years old, his sister, who was 18 years old, was abducted, raped, and murdered by four men. This incident left him devastated and traumatized.

As if these all incidents were not enough, five years later, Kelsey’s half-brother unexpectedly died in a scuba diving accident. His childhood was filled with these shocking incidents. Despite all of these he rose up to be a superstar. (1, 2)

Also read: 10 Celebrities Who Were Fired From Their Ordinary Job

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