The Stars Who Slummed It

There are those who achieve fame and become overly generous, explains Houran. The way he sees it, these folks came from nothing and are therefore driven to do their part.

Among his examples: queen of all media Oprah Winfrey. Having spent her early years poverty-stricken in rural Mississippi, Winfrey later faced sexual molestation and the death of her child as she aged. Today, the chat-show host is as well known for her generosity as she is for her fame. Buying cars for everyone in her studio audience or funding a $40 million school for girls in Africa are just two of Winfrey's many do-gooder acts.

And then there are those who achieve fame and become very indulgent -- quick to meet not just their every need but their every desire.

"In many ways, they announce their success with the items that they buy," explains Ellis Cashmore, author of "Celebrity Culture."

This may explain the behavior of New York City-born rapper Sean "Diddy" Combs, who moved upstate as a child after the murder of his father. Today, the hip-hop impresario has evolved into a celebrity, in the truest sense of the word. And while he does his part for charity, Combs has never shied away from the luxuries that fame affords. Let his numerous houses and million-dollar soirées serve as evidence.

But the irony in all of this, according to Brim, is that fame doesn't provide the sense of belonging that its seekers long for. Quite the opposite -- it leaves many who attain it feeling empty.

"You think it will make you feel loved, approved of and accepted," he explains, "but in fact, the desire for fame is insatiable."

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