Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Reading that one-time teen idol Leif Garrett was just charged with heroin possession made me wonder how the Leif Garretts of the world come by money to enough live, let alone buy heroin...

There are hundreds of "I used to be a somebody" in the country... child actors whose fame faded as they aged (Emmanuel Webster), rock stars who enjoyed a flash of chart success (Shaun Cassidy, Dexie's Midnight Runners, Sweet) and professional athletes who had a brief career and so on... and I would assume very few of them socked away enough money during their peak years to provide for a retirement that effectively started 30 years before the age at which most regular people figure on retiring.

While there are stories galore about how this or that ex-athlete leveraged their fame into a job selling insurance or real estate development and is now living the cozy lifestyle, we tend not to hear such stories about actors and musicians.

Celebrity reality shows are a source of income for the lucky few who land a slot in one of these shows, such as Todd Bridges in Skating with Celebrities. A few, such as David Cassidy, have been able to keep their career going by performing in Vegas and other resorts. And there are some number of guest slots on TV shows that are available to be handed out for nostaglia, but there aren't enough of these spots for the hundreds of has-beens floating around.

And the tattoos that so many former rock stars have would likely preclude them finding their way into the corporate world... and Tower Record just doesn't have enough salesclerk slots to provide a haven for all these former rockers, especially because so many rock wannabes are already working there.

So where do they come by their money?