Some love her. Others hate her. Paris Hilton’s latest biographer, who spent more than a year studying the world’s most famous “celebutante,” says he just feels sorry for her.
Hilton, whose great-grandfather, Conrad, started the global Hilton Hotel empire, was catapulted to international fame in 2003 when a home video of her having sex with a former boyfriend was plastered all over the Internet.
Coupled with a popular reality television show called “The Simple Life,” Hilton used the publicity to build a multimillion-dollar celebrity juggernaut. The wannabe star’s outrageous behavior and skimpy clothing scored her headlines and magazine covers around the world.
Biographer Jerry Oppenheimer, author of “House of Hilton -- From Conrad to Paris: A Drama of Wealth, Power, and Privilege,” said Hilton, 25, has made herself into the IT girl of this decade, attracting scores of copycat fans.
But he said her partying and rich-girl antics -- including a recent arrest for drunken driving -- have irritated many others. Dislike of her is so strong that she recently topped a survey as the female star most people would like to see slain in a horror film.
She also reportedly has won a place in the 2007 Guinness World Records as “the most overrated celebrity,” and helped personify a new word, “celebutante,” a blend of “celebrity” and ”debutante” meaning an attention seeker better known for misbehaving than for talent.
Loved or hated, Paris Hilton is here to stay for a while, Oppenheimer said.
“Her brilliance is getting the attention -- the exhibitionism, canoodling with guys in clubs and getting on the covers of celebrity magazines around the world,” he said.
Childhood pressureOppenheimer said he ended up feeling sorry for Hilton as he came to believe that her mother and maternal grandmother pushed her into using the family name and an exhibitionist streak to become a celebrity.
“Her mother, Kathy, put her in make-up and allowed her (into) nightclubs from a very young age,” Oppenheimer, a biographer of Martha Stewart and Rock Hudson, said in a telephone interview.
“I feel sorry for her because in a way she had no chance to do anything else but live the dreams that her grandmother and her mother had for themselves.”
Legal warnings from Hilton’s mother failed to stop the book and prompted family and friends to come out of the woodwork with their stories, Oppenheimer said.
He said he was surprised to find that Hilton’s maternal grandmother was the “stage mother from hell,” pushing her daughter into a modeling and acting career that never really took off.
Since Hilton hit the spotlight, her mother has appeared as the host on the reality television show “I Want To Be A Hilton” in an attempt to cash in on the fame of the oldest of her four children. But the show was criticized and had a limited run.
“It is a bizarre family,” said Oppenheimer. “Behind the scenes her parents were not opposed to (the sex video) because that totally launched her.”
Oppenheimer said it was hard to tell if Hilton was real or the invention of a clever marketing team that was aware her ”heiress tag” is untrue. She stands to inherit little from the Hilton empire and needs to work for a living.
“Paris will say whatever comes into her head. She tends to to make up stories and scenarios. I do wonder if she doesn’t live in a fantasy world herself,” Oppenheimer said.