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When celebrities leave orphans behind

Last week two showbiz icons from my youth passed away. For me, Farrah Fawcett was always the sexiest of the Charlie’s Angels from my childhood TV years and Michael Jackson was always the youngest and cutest of the Jackson Five’s and I will always remember him – not for “Thriller” or “Billy Jean” – but for childhood favorites like “Happy” and “Ben”. (Huh, am I giving away my age?)

But these two people are not only celebrities – they are also parents. So what happens to the children when celebrities pass away? The ones who have the normal family set up such as the children of Natasha Farrah FawcettRichardson seem to fare rather well despite tragically losing their mom. However, I can imagine that things can become complicated in the case of the so-called “patchwork” families. Do they get tangled in custody battles and fights over wills? Do they end up rich like Dannielynn, Anna Nicole Smith’s daughter or end up with nothing like Heath Ledger’s daughter Matilda Rose?

Farrah Fawcett has a 24-year old son with her long time partner Ryan O’Neal. At least he is already an adult and can probably manage on his own despite his drug problems.

Michael JacksonMichael Jackson’s family set up is a bit more complicated. He leaves behind three children from two relationships for whom he had full custody. From his second marriage, he had a son Prince Michael Joseph Jr. (12), and a daughter Paris Michael Katherine (11). He had another son Prince Michael Jackson II (7) in 2002 but the identity of the mother was never revealed, although there are speculations that he was born through a surrogate mother implanted with an embryo fertilized with Jackson Sr.’s sperm. With Michael Jackson’s untimely death, I wonder whether he has provided properly for his children, considering the financial problems he had been having lately.

I can imagine that celebrities, especially superstars, can sometimes feel invincible. Even at middle age and beyond, death seems very remote. Does it occur to them that they can’t live forever and that their kids might become orphans? I feel sad for them, but I feel even more for their children especially if they are as young as Michael Jackson’s children. I hope that they won’t be caught in nasty court battles about custody, paternity/maternity and money. I hope that they will be protected from the relentless media coverage.

The deaths of Fawcett and Jackson made me ask myself questions about  life and death, about my children and my family.

How about us who are “mere mortals”? Are we prepared for all eventualities? Do we know what would happen to our children in case something happens to us?


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