Celebutante is a portmanteau of the words celebrity and débutante that is a celebrity who rises to fame not because of their talent or work but because of their inherited wealth and controversial lifestyle. It is generally used to refer to a young woman from a wealthy family who has received a disproportionate amount of media attention, due principally to her lifestyle, as opposed to individual achievement. Young women born or wed into great wealth, then cast into the public eye, are endowed with collective hope and expectation. Vessels of vicarious living, we suffer with them as they fall prey to gold diggers, mental illness and the responsibilities that come with privilege. Not all famous heiresses are doomed. There are those who use their resources and influence in positive ways. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable celebutantes from the past and the present.
10. Jade Jagger
Jade Sheena Jezebel Jagger (born 21 October 1971) is an English jewelry designer, socialite and former model. In 1996, Jade set up Jade Inc. with Tamsin De Roemer designing jewellery, and in 2001 she began working as the Creative Director for Garrard, the English company dealing in high-end jewelry. She worked there until 2006 and now promotes a lifestyle concept called “;Jezebel”; (her middle name), which fuses music, clothing, and lifestyle through original recordings, remixes, unplugged sessions, and fashion. She also owns a building with luxury condo units in Manhattan and has worked as a lingerie model.In 2008, Jade’;s career was revived, courtesy of Belvedere. Best known in accessory circles for her gig as creative director at Garrard, Jade had created the “;Jagger Dagger,”; a sword boasting an 18-carat white gold hilt studded with 12 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds, 42 pale sapphires, and inlaid with a central blue lapis lazuli square.She is currently the face of the up-and-coming brand Eleven Paris in its Fall 2010 ads.
9. Khloé Kardashian
Khloé Kardashian Odom (née Khloé Alexandra Kardashian; born June 27, 1984) is an American television personality, radio host, entrepreneur, model, and celebutante. She is best known for her appearances on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kourtney and Khloé Take Miami, and Khloé & Lamar, as well as being married to Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Lamar Odom. Kardashian is the younger sister of Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, with whom she owns a clothing boutique, D-A-S-H, and appears on various reality television series. In June 2009, Khloé and her sisters teamed up with the Natural Products Association to create a teeth whitening pen called Idol White. On July 18, 2008, Kardashian turned herself in and reported to jail to serve time for violation of probation. She faced a sentence of up to 30 days and enrollment in an alcohol treatment program within three weeks of her release from jail. She was released from jail fewer than three hours later due to “;overcrowding”;.
8. Doris Duke
Doris Duke (November 22, 1912 – October 28, 1993) was an American heiress, horticulturalist, art collector, and philanthropist. Duke was the only child of tobacco and electric energy tycoon James Buchanan Duke and his second wife, Nanaline Holt Inman, widow of Dr. William Patterson Inman. At his death in 1925, the elder Duke’;s will bequeathed the majority of his estate to his wife and daughter, along with $ 17,000,000, in two separate clauses of the will, to The Duke Endowment he had created in 1924.The total value of the estate was not disclosed, but was estimated variously at $ 60,000,000 and $ 100,000,000. She was presented to society as a debutante in 1930, aged 18, at a ball at Rough Point, the family residence in Newport, Rhode Island. She received large bequests from her father’;s will when she turned 21, 25, and 30; she was sometimes referred to as the “;world’;s richest girl”;.
7. Gloria Vanderbilt
Gloria Laura Morgan Vanderbilt (born February 20, 1924) is an American artist, author, actress, heiress, and socialite most noted as an early developer of designer blue jeans. She is a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family of New York and mother of CNN’;s Anderson Cooper. Despite being a married woman, she maintained a romantic relationship with photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks for many years until his death in 2006. She became heiress to a half share in a five million dollar trust fund upon her father’;s death from cirrhosis when she was 15 months old. The rights to control this trust fund while Vanderbilt was a minor belonged to her mother, who traveled to and from Paris for years, taking her daughter with her. They were accompanied by a beloved nanny young Gloria named “;Dodo”;, who would play a tumultuous part in the child’;s life, and her mother’;s identical twin sister Thelma, who was the mistress of The Prince of Wales during this time. As a result of frequent spending, her mother’;s use of finances was scrutinized by the child Vanderbilt’;s paternal aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Whitney, a sculptor and philanthropist, wanted custody of the young heiress and soon a famous custody trial became the lead story of 1934. The trial was so scandalous that at times, the judge would make everyone leave the room so as to listen to what young Vanderbilt had to say without anyone influencing her. Some people heard weeping and wailing inside the court room. Testimony was heard depicting the mother as an unfit parent; Vanderbilt’;s mother lost the battle and Vanderbilt became the ward of her Aunt Gertrude.
6. Barbara Hutton
Barbara Woolworth Hutton (November 14, 1912 – May 11, 1979) was an American socialite dubbed by the media as the “;Poor Little Rich Girl”; because of her troubled life. She donated Winfield House to the United States government, to be used as the residence of the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, in a symbolic $ 1 transaction following World War II. Edna Hutton committed suicide when Barbara was five years old. Young Barbara discovered her mother’;s body. After her mother’;s death, she lived with various relatives. She became an introverted child who had limited interaction with other children of her own age. Her closest friend and only confidante was her cousin Jimmy Donahue, the son of her mother’;s sister. In accordance with New York’;s high society traditions, Barbara Hutton was given a lavish débutanteball in 1930 on her 18th birthday.The ball cost $ 60,000, a veritable fortune in the days of the depression. Public criticism was so severe that she was sent on a tour of Europe to escape the onslaught of the press. In 1924, Barbara Hutton’;s grandmother died and she would receive one-third of that estate, or about $ 28 million and it was held in a trust fund administered by her father. By the time of her 21st birthday in 1933, her father had increased the amount to about $ 42 million through sound investments. This amount was equivalent to roughly $ 2 billion in today’;s money and made her one of the wealthiest women in the world. Though Barbara Hutton was portrayed in the press as the “;lucky”; young woman who had it all, the public had no idea of the psychological problems she lived with that led to a life of victimization and abuse. Barbara Hutton married seven times. Her husbands used her great wealth to their advantage, especially the extremely abusive Curt Haugwitz-Reventlow, with whom she had her only child, a son named Lance. Reventlow dominated her through verbal and physical abuse, which escalated to a savage beating that left her hospitalized and him in jail.
5. James St. James
James St. James (born James Clark August 1, 1966) is an American television personality, author, and the only male labeled as celebutante. He is the former Club Kid of the Manhattan club scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s.James St. James was notorious for a lifestyle of excess that included heavy drug use, partying, and bizarre costumes that first brought him to national attention as the subject of Club Kids television appearances and interviews. He wrote Disco Bloodbath (now published under the title Party Monster) that was later made into the feature film Party Monster starring Macaulay Culkin as Michael Alig and Seth Green as St. James. His life was the subject of the 1998 documentary Party Monster: The Shockumentary. The was called celebutante in 1985 Newsweek article about New York City’;s clubland celebrities, focusing on the lifestyle of James St. James along with Dianne Brill, who was crowned “;Queen of the Night”; by Andy Warhol.
4. Nicole Richie
Nicole Camille Richie (born Nicole Camille Escovedo; September 21, 1981) is an American fashion designer, author and television personality. Her father was Peter Michael Escovedo, a musician who played for a brief time with Lionel Richie, and her mother was the executive assistant for Sheila Escovedo, Karen. Nicole Richie is the daughter of soul singer Lionel Richie and his then-wife Brenda Harvey. Richie is perhaps best known for her role in the Fox reality television series The Simple Life. In recent years Richie has focused on charity work and environmental issues. In November 2007 Richie and husband Joel Madden created “;The Richie Madden Children’;s Foundation”;. Richie’;s tumultuous personal life has attracted significant publicity in tabloid press, for her dramatically thin appearance, which sparked rumors of an eating disorder, to driving under the influence (DUI) arrests in 2003 and 2006, and her extensive drug abuse throughout her late teenage years and early twenties.
3. Kim Kardashian
Kimberly Noel “;Kim”; Kardashian (born October 21, 1980) is an American socialite, television personality, model, and actress. She is the daughter of late attorney Robert Kardashian, and is known for a sex tape with her former boyfriend Ray J as well as her E! reality series that she shares with her family, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Kardashian’;s prominence has increased as of January 2011 with the premiere of Kourtney and Kim Take New York, the second spin-off of Keeping Up with the Kardashians (the first being Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami), debuting on E!, with the series following Kim and sister Kourtney Kardashian as they leave Los Angeles to open a third D-A-S-H store in New York City. Kardashian has launched multiple fragrances, guest starred on numerous shows, competed on ABC’;s Dancing with the Stars, and has had roles in movies such as Disaster Movie and Deep in the Valley. In 2010, Kardashian, along with her sisters Kourtney and Khloe, released an autobiography, Kardashian Konfidential, and plan to launch their own fashion line. In February 2007, a pornographic home video she made with singer Ray J was leaked.Kardashian sued Vivid Entertainment for ownership of the tape. In late April 2007, Kardashian dropped the suit and settled with Vivid Entertainment for $ 5 million
2. Paris Hilton
Paris Whitney Hilton (born February 17, 1981) is an American socialite, heiress, media personality, model, singer, author, fashion designer and actress. She is a great-granddaughter of Conrad Hilton (founder of Hilton Hotels). Hilton is known for her controversial participation in a sex tape in 2003, and appearance on the television series The Simple Life alongside fellow socialite and childhood best friend Nicole Richie. She is also known for her 2004 tongue-in-cheek autobiography, several minor film roles (most notably her role in the horror film House of Wax in 2005), her 2006 music album Paris, and her work in modeling. As a result of several legal incidents, Hilton served a widely publicized sentence in a Los Angeles County jail in 2007. She is an example of the modern phenomenon of the ‘;celebutante’;. A homemade sex video of Hilton and then-boyfriend Rick Salomon was leaked on the Internet in 2003, later released as the DVD 1 Night in Paris despite attempted legal action. It appeared a week prior to the premiere of The Simple Life. Hilton was also burglarized at least five times by the Bling Ring. In most cases they were only after cash and clothes. However, during their final burglary of her home, a participant usually not present as a member of the group stole around $ 2 million in jewelry from her, carrying it out in one of her Louis Vuitton bags. It was only after this theft that she informed police of having been burglarized.
1. Brenda Frazier
Brenda Diana Duff Frazier (June 9, 1921 – May 3, 1982) was an American debutante popular during the Depression era. Her December 1938 coming-out party was so heavily publicized worldwide she eventually appeared on the cover of Life magazine for that reason alone. She had invented the famous “white-face” look. Powdered skin made a startling contrast to her very red painted lips combined with dark, dark hair, perfectly coiffed. Brenda often developed a stiff neck, as she feared moving her head lest a hair fall out of place. She sported strapless gowns and made a sensation with that trend as well. During the year of her debut Brenda was at the beck and call of press agents worldwide. She was most often written about by columnist Walter Winchell. As so many in Society lost their fortunes during the Depression, lineage was no longer the sole common denominator. “Publi-ciety”—a combination of money, social standing and news coverage also entered the Winchell lexicon. And then there were the “Glamour Girls”. In 1938 Brenda Frazier was dubbed Glamour Girl #1. In 1939 the word celebutante was coined to describe her. Victimized by too much high living, Frazier retreated from the outside world and practically became a hermit. Still not forgotten, however, she was mentioned in the Stephen Sondheim song, “;I’;m Still Here”; (from Follies) while living in relative obscurity until her death from bone cancer in Boston, Massachusetts, aged 60.
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