“How could I possibly be related to someone who is so fat?”
This cruel put-down by Drew Barrymore when she first saw a picture of her half-sister Jessica has been blamed for the latter’s suspected suicide this week.
In Barrymore’s defence, she was a troubled child actress when she uttered those words. Even more remarkable is that her father John Barrymore chose to relay her remarks to Jessica. The quip led Jessica to believe that she wasn’t good enough for her Hollywood family, and fuelled a lifelong obsession with her weight.
According to the Daily Mail, Jessica, who would have turned 48 this week, was found dead in her car in California with unidentified white pills scattered across the passenger seat.
Relatives claim that Jessica had been battling with her weight for years, and in recent months had lost around 45kgs using a trendy new program that involved vitamin B12 injections. She also reportedly consumed around 20 energy drinks a day.
“The self-esteem and body issues started when Jessica was very young,” said a family friend.
“Her father John, who was very messed up himself, showed Drew a picture of Jessica and Drew said: ‘How could I possibly be related to someone who is so fat?'
“She was just a kid but then John went and told Jessica and that hurt her dearly. John was not kind in that way. Jessica's relationship with her dad was contentious.”
Her relationship with Drew Barrymore was a non-starter. The sisters met only twice in 20 years.
Ironically, their lives followed very similar paths.
Drew had a very rocky relationship with her parents and was smoking and drinking by the age of 11, before turning to hard drugs. When she turned 15, she won a petition to emancipate herself from her parents and live on her own.
Jessica too struggled with her parents, and moved in with a surrogate mother. She was later asked to leave because she began using meth. Both women also harboured ambitions of being in film. But while Drew found fame at a young age, Jessica found her path to stardom blocked by her stepfather who didn’t want her exploited by Hollywood. In 1996, while Drew was starring in Batman Forever, Jessica was being booked for drug trafficking.