Celebrity Family Members Who Spilled Big Secrets

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Celebrity memoirs have been flying off the shelves lately. Michelle Obama's 2019 autobiography "Becoming" became a record-breaking revenue generator. Matthew McConaughey's 2020 memoir was even bigger. "Greenlights" turned into an unstoppable best-seller for over a year. When you have a celebrity in your family, you can rake in some serious cash by selling your story to the highest bidder. Prince Harry is one of the sell-outs in this article, collecting an estimated $40 million for his multi-book deal with Penguin Random House, which includes "Spare," his 2023 memoir skewering his brother Prince William.

Meghan Markle, on the other hand, is the one being sold out here. We'll get into all the sordid details below. While Christopher Ciccone couldn't demand royal family kind of money, he reportedly earned a seven-figure paycheck to set the world straight about his big sister Madonna. There are some pretty outrageous tales here, including Roseanne Barr's daughter Jenny Pentland's admission that she "grew up in comedy clubs and mental institutions," (via USA Today).

Some of these stories are touching. A few will break your heart. Others might just make you smile. As Prince's ex-wife Mayte Garcia fondly remembered in one of her first impressions of the gender-bending artist, "This man wearing eyeliner, heels and ladies' perfume somehow managed to be more masculine than the burly bodyguard," she wrote (via Daily Mail). Here are 14 celebrity family members who spilled big secrets.

Prince Harry dropped some bombshells about his brother Prince William

Very few celebrity memoirs have caused an international uproar like "Spare," the runaway best-seller from Prince Harry, who stepped back from his role as a working royal in 2020 with his wife Meghan Markle. Back in 2021, the couple pulled back the curtain on the royal family, exposing racist comments from a family member about the color of their son Archie's skin. There were "concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he was born," Markle said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

In "Spare," The Duke of Sussex recounted his complicated relationship with his older brother, Prince William, referring to "Wills" as his "beloved brother and arch nemesis." In one section, the "Live to Lead” producer described a confrontation in London when the two brothers came to blows. William "grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and ... knocked me to the floor," Harry wrote, via The Guardian.

Speaking to Michael Strahan on Good Morning America, the Duke admitted his relationship with his family was already so frosty, the memoir didn't change things much. "I have thought about it long and hard," Harry said. "And as far as I see it, the divide couldn't be greater before this book." As of March 2023, Harry remained hopeful he would reconcile with the royals, although he and Meghan had not RSVP'd for King Charles' coronation in May. "I hope that we [he and William] will be joined at the hip again," he said.

Meghan Markle's dad and half-sister have cashed in on her fame

When Meghan Markle went public about her relationship with Prince Harry, the "Suits" star's half-sister Samantha Markle saw an opportunity. Since then, Samantha, who hasn't spoken to Meghan for 15 years, has commented on nearly every aspect of Meghan's life, and most of it wasn't welcomed. In 2017, she told The Sun her younger sibling was obsessed with social status and intent on bagging a prince. Samantha's most hurtful allegation against Meghan came the following year, as she detailed in her memoir, "The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister — Part 1."

She claimed the royal family wanted to help their father Thomas out financially, but Meghan nixed the idea. "I was furious with her, but more than anything, I was brokenhearted by knowing that he could've been comfortable, and safe, but my sister said no," Samantha wrote, (via Cosmopolitan.) There was a lot of drama surrounding Meghan and Harry's wedding and whether or not her father would attend. A source told Daily Mail he faked a heart attack to excuse his absence.

Thomas Markle reportedly collected $100,000 for paparazzi pics he staged of himself leading up to the nuptials. As of 2018, Samantha reportedly banked six figures for interviews about her sister.  "I think it would be very hard to 'tell all' when you don't know me," Meghan told the Los Angeles Times of Samantha's tome. "This is a very different situation from my dad. Betrayal comes from people you have a relationship with."

Jennifer Aniston's relationship with her mom soured after her tell-all book

Jennifer Aniston had a strained relationship with her mother, Nancy Dow. After the former model published her 1999 memoir, "From Mother and Daughter to Friends," the two women hardly communicated for years. In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph (via HuffPost), Aniston opened up about their differences. "I did not come out the model child she'd hoped for and it was something that really resonated with me, this little girl just wanting to be seen and wanting to be loved by a mum who was too occupied with things that didn't quite matter," she explained.

The mother-daughter rift began a few years earlier, after Dow spoke about Aniston on the tabloid TV show "Hard Copy." As Dow told National Post, the "Friends" alum was fuming after her mom's interview and hung up the phone on her, yelling, "I will never forgive you!" In 2005, it appears she did. Following Aniston's divorce from Brad Pitt, "The Morning Show" star told Good Morning America she and her estranged mother were starting to talk again.

"It's crazy what, you know, your life kind of being turned upside down will lead you to," she said. "So this is good. It's baby steps." Nancy Dow died in 2017, but left nothing to Aniston, per a source for In Touch. It's not like Aniston, who was paying most of Dow's bills, needs the money, but here's the hitch. Her mom bequeathed all her private writings to another family member – "someone who could profit from it."

Christopher Ciccone wrote a scathing tell-all about his sister Madonna

In the early days of Madonna's career, Christopher Ciccone was her backup dancer, her dresser, and then the singer's director for her live shows. In 2001, the icon canned her brother, after choosing another director for her Drowned World tour. "From the moment I found out that I wasn't doing Drowned World, to her and Guy's wedding, everything became a bit of a blur," Ciccone told The Guardian. "A dark, fairly negative period of time for me."

In his 2008 memoir, "Life with My Sister Madonna," Ciccone paints his big sister as cold, controlling, and self-centered. In an interview on Good Morning America, the music video director clarified his motivation to write the book. "I didn't set about to knock her off her pedestal," he said. "I'm not taking revenge at all. I'm telling what I consider to be a great tale." The singer reportedly tried to diminish press coverage of the autobiography.

When she reached out to Ciccone, he refused to take her calls. Her brother said, (via Today), "I will admit to a guilty pleasure in watching her squirm." In a statement, the star's publicist Liz Rosenberg noted, "I would have to assume she has come to terms with the fact that they do not have a close and loving relationship," the PR maven said. "And with the book coming out, I assume that will remove the chances of that ever happening." Never say never. In 2019, Ciccone told Radar Online he and Madonna are "at peace now."

Lynne Spears revealed new details about Britney's teenage years

Lynne Spears' book "Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World," didn't only spill the tea about her daughter Britney Spears. It made her take a hard look at the role she played in the "Toxic" singer's rise to fame and epic public meltdown in 2007. "Being a mother, you can't help but have regrets about what you did and didn't do for your kids, and I'm no different," the former school teacher told Daily Mail.

In excerpts from the tell-all memoir, Spears revealed the pop superstar started drinking when she was 13, while still appearing on the "The All-New Mickey Mouse Club." At 16, the "Piece of Me" hitmaker was snagged with pot and cocaine on a private plane. Lynne also admitted she went along with a lie Britney told to her then-boyfriend Justin Timberlake that he was "her first." In fact, the first time she went "all the way" was with a high school football jock from Louisiana when she was 14.

In 2022, nearly a year after her 13-year conservatorship ended, the "Hold Me Closer" singer said she felt abandoned by her mother, and they remained at odds. Responding to a lengthy audio clip Britney posted on Instagram, Lynne wrote, "Britney, your whole life I have tried my best to support your dreams and wishes!" At the end of her post, Lynne turned it back on Britney, reminding her daughter that this is a private matter.

Priscilla Presley opened up about the Elvis few people knew

"I truly cherish the great times," Priscilla Presley told People of her six-year marriage to The King of Rock 'n Roll. "As you grow up, there are always fears and insecurities. But as you get older you understand it all," the "Dallas" alum continued. Priscilla, who met the iconic entertainer when she was just 14, admitted she lived her life in Elvis' shadow. "My life was his life. He had to be happy. My problems were secondary," she shared with People in 1978.

In 1985, the year her memoir, "Elvis and Me" was released, Priscilla revealed something about her late husband many fans didn't know – he yearned to be a serious movie actor. "I listened to his desires to become a great actor like his idols Marlon Brando, James Dean, Karl Malden and Rod Steiger," she told People. Priscilla was an executive producer on the 2018 documentary "Elvis Presley: The Searcher," which focuses on the singer's last days.

At the film's SXSW premiere, Priscilla opened up about Elvis' addiction to pills. "It was difficult for all of us, we certainly didn't see it coming. But we certainly saw the journey he was taking," she revealed, per Fox News. In 2017, Priscilla remembered the love of her life on the 40th anniversary of his death. In a heartfelt interview with ET's Nischelle Turner, she said, "He was my mentor, he was my confidant. He was everything.... In my book I wrote 'my God,' because I lived and breathed him."

New details about Marilyn Monroe were revealed in two biographies

More than six decades after the icon's untimely death in 1962, questions remain about Marilyn Monroe's frenetic love life and how she really died. In 2012, Monroe's half-sister, Berniece Baker Miracle, and her daughter Mona Ray Miracle released a memoir, "My Sister Marilyn." In an interview with The Mirror, Mona explained that Monroe (née Norma Jean Mortenson), who grew up in foster homes, was 12 when she learned she had a half-sister.

Mona, a kindergartener at the time, enjoyed the perks of having a fun aunt who gifted her with Hollywood hand-me-downs. "She'd send us parcels of clothes she didn't want any more," Mona said. "What a thrill that was. We weren't wealthy, but we had these terrific outfits." Mona also has strong feelings about the blonde bombshell's cause of death. "I do not subscribe to any of these murder or suicide theories or her supposed affair with President Kennedy. None of it is true. It was an accident," she insists.

The star's death from a prescription drug overdose was ruled a "probable suicide," per People. June DiMaggio, niece of baseball great Joe DiMaggio, Monroe's second husband, wrote another Monroe memoir, entitled "Marilyn, Joe & Me: June DiMaggio Tells It Like It Was." In her book, DiMaggio revealed new details that prove someone else was in the room during Monroe's final hours. According to a 2005 article in Playboy (via ABC News), June said her mother Lee knew who that person was, but never shared it with anyone.

Prince's first wife, Mayte Garcia, shared the highs and lows of their life together

When Prince met Mayte Garcia, their romance took on a life of its own. Their first encounter was in 1990, after the sixteen-year-old dancer submitted an audition tape to the genre-bending musician at a concert in Spain. A few days later, she was dancing in his Diamonds and Pearls tour, per People, The couple tied the knot on Valentines Day in 1996, and welcomed their son Amiir, also referred to as Boy Gregory, later that year.

In her book, "The Most Beautiful: My Life With Prince," Garcia shares the harrowing ordeal of losing their son, who suffered from a rare genetic disorder, after just six days. "I don't know how to describe the look on my husband's face. Pure joy." she wrote, (via Daily Mail). "And then they held the baby up to those harsh lights. The elation on my husband's face turned to pure terror."

For Garcia and Prince, it was one of the worst things they'd ever endured. "I don't think he ever got over it," she wrote. "I don't know how anybody can get over it. I know I haven't." In an interview with CBS News, Garcia said she hopes readers will see there's more to the mononymous artist than his musical talents. "When they close the book I want them to think, 'Wow, that was an amazing love story. He wasn't just a genius, he was a loving, passionate man who was very sensitive.'"

Roseanne Barr's daughter Jenny Pentland spilled the tea about her mother

Roseanne Barr is no stranger to erratic behavior, and neither is her daughter Jenny Pentland. Unfortunately, the writer's mother was part of the problem rather than the solution. As the comedian was shooting to fame with her eponymous sitcom, her marriage to Mike Pentland was crumbling, and their children were caught in the crossfire. "Our family was falling apart, and the stress of falling apart was making us fall apart even faster," Pentland (above, left of Roseanne) wrote in her 2022 book, "This Will Be Funny Later" via USA Today.

At 13, Pentland went into a mental health facility. Two years later, she was hauled off in handcuffs from the family's L.A. home and taken to a wilderness survival camp in Utah. Her mother and future step-dad Tom Arnold were behind it. This wasn't the only time Barr pulled a stunt like this. "I was racking my brain trying to think of ways that Tom and my mom could have worked around the law to keep me incarcerated for the rest of my life," Pentland wrote, via Page Six.

The storylines on Barr's hit series came from real-life events in her family. The characters Sara Gilbert and Lecy Goranson played were amalgams of Pentland and her older sister Jessica. In an excerpt from her memoir published in HuffPost, she explained, "I resented Parallel Jenny's simple life. I couldn't watch the show without feeling angry, and then I couldn't watch it because TV was not allowed in reform school."

Joan Crawford's daughter Christina revealed the dark side of the movie star

In her heyday, Joan Crawford was one of the highest-paid women in Hollywood. An Oscar winner for the titular role in 1945's "Mildred Pierce," and famous for her decades-long feud with her "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" co-star Bette Davis, the Texas native clawed her way to the top. In 1978, her adopted daughter Christina released her tell-all memoir, "Mommie Dearest," and the stories are chilling. Christina depicts her mother as a violent, abusive alcoholic who was obsessed with order and cleanliness.

The book was adapted into a 1981 campy horror film starring Faye Dunaway. In a scene from the movie that launched instant GIFS to connote over-the-top controlling mothers, Joan screams at Christina, "No wire hangers, no wire hangers!" and then proceeds to attack her with one. When she was 13, Christina (above with her brother Christopher) was on the receiving end of repeated attacks from her mother. In one incident, Joan clocked her, then smacked her head down to the floor.

"She came this far from my face, and you could see it in her eyes, you can see if someone is trying to kill you," "The Sixth Sense” actor revealed to The Guardian. In the biography, Christina noted there were many people, including Joan's friends and staffers, who knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it. "If a lot of what she did had happened today, that woman would be arrested and taken to jail," Christina told The Guardian in 2019.

Steve Jobs' daughter shared the truth about their strained relationship

At the time of his death, Steve Jobs was a multi-billionaire, but according to his eldest daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, he was far from generous with his money or his affection while he was alive. In fact, the co-founder of Apple initially claimed he wasn't the father of Lisa, whose mother is artist Chrisann Brennan. Chrisann relied on welfare checks and house cleaning jobs to make ends meet. Jobs only agreed to pay child support after he was sued.

In her 2018 memoir, "Small Fry," via The New York Times, Brennan-Jobs explained that as a teenager, she moved in with her dad, who could flip from being insensitive to overbearing. When she became involved with extracurricular activities in high school, he told her, "This isn't working out. .... "You're never around. If you want to be a part of this family, you need to put in the time." In an excerpt from the book published in Vanity Fair, the author detailed how volatile Jobs could be.

After driving to his house one night, she asked her father for his slightly-used Porsche when he was done with it. "Absolutely not," he said...."You're not getting anything." Before the tech innovator's death in 2011, Brennan-Jobs learned the answer to a question she'd been asking him her entire life. On a father-daughter visit to Bono's villa in the South of France, the U2 frontman asked him, "So, was the Lisa computer named after her?" "Yeah, it was," Jobs said.

Janis Joplin's sister Laura chronicled her sister's rise to fame

Janis Joplin was one of the breakthrough recording artists of her generation. The frontwoman for Big Brother & the Holding Company was known for her raspy delivery on hits like "Piece of My Heart" and "Me and Bobby McGee." Sadly, her promising career was cut short. In 1970, the Port Arthur, Texas native was found dead at 27 from a heroin overdose. In her 1992 memoir "Love Janis," Laura Joplin opened up about the older sister she knew and loved. 

"Janis is an image of the psychedelic music, drugs, emotional freedom of the 60's," Laura told the Chicago Tribune, (via Janis Joplin's website). Janis Joplin was a big fan of blues singers Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday in high school. Even though she was underage, she would travel to clubs in Louisiana to see Cajun and black performers on stage. When Laura came to see her sister in San Francisco, she was in her element. "Janis was exuberant, showing me Haight-Ashbury, taking me to the clubs, signing autographs on the street," Laura said.

In 1994, a play based on Laura's book premiered in Denver, and landed on Broadway in 2014, reimagined as "A Night with Janis Joplin." There was also a TV documentary, which premiered in 2010. In an interview with The Seattle Times, Laura said of Janis, "She was on her way. She was, in many ways, a full-steam-ahead girl. We just didn't know where she was going."

John Lennon's first wife Cynthia got candid about living in the Beatles' shadow

Cynthia and John Lennon met before he was a member of the biggest rock and roll band in history. The two art students met in 1957 and tied the knot five years later. As Beatlemania took hold and the four boys from Liverpool became the hottest commodities on the planet, The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein told John he wanted him to appear single.

In a 2015 interview with NPR, Cynthia explained, "If the lead, the main man in the group was found to be married, then it might take away from that particular success, so I walked around pregnant for quite a long time, hiding it." Cynthia added she would often deny being John's wife. The couple exchanged vows just before The Beatles recorded their hit single, "Love Me Do." In 1968, John showed he didn't love Cynthia as much as Yoko Ono. John and Cynthia divorced that year, and he married Ono in 1969.

Cynthia admits it was a painful split from Lennon, who was assassinated in 1980, but she continued to care about him. "I mean, because I didn't have any anger or bitterness about it," she said. "I had a lot of hurt." Cynthia died in 2015, after three more marriages and various career endeavors. "Having tried to live an ordinary life for so many years since John and I parted, I have come to realize that I will always be known as John's first wife," she wrote in her 2005 memoir, "John," via The Guardian.

Embattled former Governor Jim McGreevey's ex-wife shared her story after he came out

In 2004, Jim McGreevey was a few years into his first term as governor of New Jersey when he held a press conference. What he had to say sent shockwaves across the country. "My truth is that I am a gay American," he said as he resigned from office alongside his smiling wife Dina Matos McGreevey per Oprah.com "I ask the forgiveness and the grace of my wife. ... She has been extraordinary throughout this ordeal, and I am blessed by virtue of her love and strength."

Speaking to Oprah Winfrey, Matos McGreevey explained hearing the word "gay American" felt like a punch in the gut. "He never told me, 'I am gay..'" ... "I smiled because I didn't want to break down." In an interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer, the former fundraiser said, "You know he had the entire day scripted," she said. "His entire life had been choreographed, and even as his world was falling apart, he was still trying to script everything and making sure that day went as he wanted it."

Matos McGreevey detailed her ex-husband's trail of deception in her 2006 memoir, "Silent Partner." "He was a great actor," she told Oprah. "He kept these two worlds separate and was a master at it." Since 2013, the former governor has held various positions in the reentry field in the Garden State. "It's been a messy journey, but I believe this is where I was always meant to be," he told the New York Daily News.