9 Shocking Stories Of Hollywood Stage Parents Who Exploited Their Own Kids

Published September 8, 2021
Updated October 20, 2021

The Stage Mother That Introduced Young Drew Barrymore To Drugs

Young Barrymore With Cigarettes

TwitterDrew Barrymore at Studio 54 when she was about 9 or 10 years old.

The 1982 blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial made 7-year-old Drew Barrymore a star. But with a father who was a violent alcoholic, her rising career was managed by her unscrupulous stage mother, Jaid.

Not only did Jaid Barrymore introduce her daughter to New York City’s notorious Studio 54 when she was just nine, but also made her dance with famous men — and take drugs with them.

Drew Barrymore later recalled how her mom took her on nightly outings with her adult friends for five nights a week for a year. The child star began describing herself as a “party girl” and dabbled in cocaine and alcohol in adult clubs across Hollywood.

“I had a mom, but she was more like my best friend,” said Barrymore. “She was like, ‘Do you want to go to school and get bullied all day, or do you want to go to Studio 54?’ And I was like, ‘Yes, absolutely!'”

Barrymore’s mother didn’t mind her pouring Baileys over her ice cream and the child star became a daily cocaine user at the age of 12. Then, at age 13, Barrymore tried to kill herself by slitting her wrists. In 1988, her mother had her institutionalized.

Drew Barrymore With Stephen Pearcy

LGI Stock/Corbis/VCG/ Getty ImagesBarrymore with Ratt frontman Stephen Pearcy during one of her nightly 1985 outings in Hollywood.

Barrymore spent 18 months in a psychiatric facility in California, where she often found herself in solitary confinement. Finally, when she was 15, she filed for emancipation from her stage mother.

At 16, Barrymore found herself cleaning toilets for cash with a career that seemed irreparably damaged. But she found roles and revived her reputation and even eventually started her own production company.

Her father died in 2004, and Barrymore said she and her mother do speak these days. Barrymore has had children of her own since, and plans to give them a very different childhood from her own.

“I knew I would not repeat the mistakes of my parents,” said Barrymore. “I knew I would never do that to a kid. I wouldn’t not be there, or put them in too-adult circumstances … I would never have children unless I was incredibly stable, and willing to put them first.”

Marco Margaritoff
A staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff has also published work at outlets including People, VICE, and Complex, covering everything from film to finance to technology. He holds dual bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a master's degree from New York University.