All the Baldwin brothers - running the gamut of fame. http://www.theplatform.info/feedcontent/article/93629
Ever heard tell of the miracles of James of Nazareth? Raised up words in praise of his mighty deeds? Chances are you won’t have. In time James rose to a respectable position in the early church, but his big mistake was picking the same career as Jesus. Then again, as far as it went, he owed it all to his brother’s name. Was he happy? History doesn’t recall. Or seem to care.
I bring this to your attention by way of introduction to my blog, Celebrity Siblings. It is a hymn of love dedicated to life’s Dedee Pfeiffers and Prince Edwards. There are no po-faced examples from scripture up there (yet), and I lead with one now purely to flatter the concept with something approaching solemnity. But to make grandiose claims for the crap sibling would be to miss the essence of the thing.
For James and Jesus, the Nazareth brothers, you can find any number of utterly forced celebrity comparisons. To use an obvious example: Charlie Sheen is Jesus. He owes his fame to his father (Martin Sheen/God). He rises high and falls low, makes unlikely claims about his blood, and leaves behind the vague suspicion it was all a big stunt. All the time, his less charismatic little brother, Emilio, trundles through a relatively low-profile career in the same business (appearing in three Mighty Ducks movies along the way).
And these are only the siblings who made it: Ever heard of Ramon Estevez? Perhaps you missed him in Alligator II: The Mutation. Or maybe you know him better as Ramon Sheen. Similarly, the hapless Joses of Nazareth, one of Jesus’s even less known brothers, a sibling footnote in history. A canapé at fame’s after-party.
Alexis Arquette, whom you may have heard of.
From what we do know of James of Nazareth, his relationship with his more widely loved sibling also mirrored that of Eric and Julia Roberts: envy, estrangement, and exile, and followed by awkward public reconciliation. The question is not one of sibling rivalry – that suggests a fair hand for all. What God, or Darwin, has thrown our way is something much crueller: a sibling pecking order.
Inferior siblings have long lurked in the shadows of great men and women, waiting (and waiting) to make their mark. It has been thus since fame first came into this world, clinging at history’s hairy heel. Substitute, say, Tom and Jim Hanks for Cain and Abel in Genesis 4.1-8: And the LORD had respect unto Tom and to his offering: But unto Jim and to his offering he had not respect.
Remus fits the classical mold of a Celebrity Sibling. He had the genes of his brother Romulus; enjoyed the same opportunities in life (raised in the woods by wolves); chose the same career (civic construction); he was loved just as well by his mother (groomed, licked and suckled). Yet no-one visited the city of Reme.
I fear I’m getting onto Rachel Johnson territory. Put myth and scripture to one side – the celebrity sibling at its best is a modern phenomenon. The pathos of the sibling’s plight today lies in the fact that celebrity is cheap enough as it is. It is sufficiently accessible, disposable and disreputable that it is easy enough to make in-roads to fame on the back of a name: by nepotism, if your sibling is obliging, or shamelessness if they’re not. For some – the likes of Whitney’s half-brother and former backing singer Gary Houston (né Garland) – it doesn’t even matter if the name is your own.
Sadly, unfairly you might think, what seems to matter once you get there is talent. And this is where the agony lies, especially if – like so many of these dreary moths – you are drawn to the same bright light that first displayed your sibling’s butterfly wings. Jim Hanks gladly accepted the voice role of Woody in the Toy Story video game spin-offs. He’s done a similar role for The Polar Express. So far, however, no Oscars.
Or consider Leon Hendrix, singer-guitarist with the Leon Hendrix Experience. He proudly named his album Keeper of the Flame. His set-lists include covers (“All Along the Watchtower”); “originals” (“Voodoo River”); even mash-ups of the two (“Hey Jimi”). As biographer Charles Cross put it: if you were Van Gogh’s brother, would you paint sunflowers?
Of course, as Julia Roberts taught Eric, precedence within a family is no guarantor of your lasting place in history. Kevin Dillon has enjoyed such success playing a movie star’s made-for-TV brother in Entourage that his current stock outweighs Matt’s. Elizabeth Olsen is poised to eclipse not simply her brother Trent (who used to cameo in Mary-Kate and Ashley’s video hits), but even her sainted older sisters. And for a time, it seemed Ben Affleck would have to sit and watch his little brother pull in all the fans he’d lost (Casey, incidentally married to River’s little sister Summer Phoenix – who appeared in one episode of a TV series called Swamp Thing).
One of the great pleasures in researching Celebrity Siblings is how often they flock together. If you ever caught the short lived cartoon based on the Blues Brothers, you’ll find it starred the fraternal one-two of Jim Belushi and Peter Aykroyd. Frank Stallone and Don Swayze were billed together in the morally confused thriller W.A.R. – Women Against Rape (aka Death Blow: A Cry For Justice). Don also appeared alongside Joey Travolta in the acclaimed Beach Babes From Beyond, also starring Martin Sheen’s brother Joe Estevez. The connections spiral endlessly into a black hole of ignominy and obscurity.
Joe, like his nephew Ramon, can testify to the myth of the hyper-successful ‘Hollywood Clan’. Lift the leaves under every John or Joan Cusack and you will find a Bill or a Susie Cusack, plugging away at their agents, lovingly tending their IMDB page. Alec Baldwin may be enjoying a resurgence in his career, but that still leaves Stephen, Billy and Daniel wondering if they in fact ever had a career (if you discount Stephen’s turn on Celebrity Big Brother, or the grim irony of its name). And if the Arquettes are the budget Baldwins, then God help the clan’s trans-gender member Alexis (still more his/her brother Richmond).
It doesn’t have to be this way. Somewhere in Australia, Brendon Minogue, 42, is quietly operating a camera for Channel 7 News, minding his own business. But however rich his sister Dannii gets off the back of her latter-day TV career, passing judgment on the talent of others, she will always be Dannii Minogue. Kylie’s sister. Singer of “Coconut” and “Touch Me Like That”. Home & Away to Kylie’s Neighbours. Somewhere behind that freeze-framed face, a part of her will always know it.