Wolf Files: Celebrity Phobias

By<a href="mailto:buck.n.wolf@abcnews.com">Buck Wolf</a>

Dec. 16, 2003 -- -- — We've all got irrational fears. Most of us just don't have the money to afford 12 boxes of Kleenex like germ-phobic billionaire Howard Hughes.

But in a time when celebrity obsession is running at an all-time high, it's interesting to note that some stars have obsessions even more bizarre than our own.

You'd think Bill Bob Thornton's only fear might be ex-wife Angelina Jolie. But Thornton's got so many phobias, he makes Woody Allen look like Russell Crowe.

Like a lot of people, Thornton struggles with aviophobia (fear of flying) and chromophobia (fear of bright colors). But what do you call the fear of antiques? The Bad Santa star refuses to stay in a room with furniture built before 1950.

Fear of FearsPhobias — persistent fears that interfere with our lives — affect the lives some 14.8 million Americans to varying degrees.

If you're deathly afraid of getting married, you might suffer from gamophobia (fear of weddings), genophobia (fear of sex) or even pentheraphobia (fear of mothers-in-law).

But before you develop phobophobia (fear of fears), rest assured that most of us learn to cope with our phobias and lead relatively normal lives.

But what if you had the money to indulge your fears and idiosyncrasies? In what sort of Neverland would you live?

Would you sort clothing according to color, like European soccer star David Beckham? Click through the following pages for a look at the phobias of the rich and famous, including John Madden, Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci.

1. John Madden: No Air Game

Many jet-setters don't like to fly — even in first class. Say what you will about the inflated ego of Monday Night Football's John Madden. The sports commentator is famous for keeping both feet on the ground.

In 1979, Madden vowed to fly never again, and he's yet to yield to the coast-to-coast demands of his job. He drives more than 60,000 miles a year, and his $700,000, 45-foot motor home, "The Madden Cruiser," is famous in stadium parking lots across the country. If the game's in Hawaii, call Dan Fouts.

Aviophobia (fear of flying) has kept other stars out of the sky. Cher, Aretha Franklin, Whoopi Goldberg and Muhammad Ali are known to be queasy riders

If you're looking for an argument, Madden attributes his fears to claustrophobia rather than aviophobia. The former football coach has never been afraid of expressing himself. [Next: David Beckham] 2.David Beckham: Ataxophobia

Talk about perfectionism: In David Beckham's closet, each shirt is filed according to its color. Each can of soda is lined up in his refrigerator like soldiers at attention. Beckham is sometimes described as an ataxophobic — a person who fears disorder.

"Everything has to match in the house," his wife, Victoria, formerly known as Posh Spice, told People magazine two years ago. "If there are three cans of diet Coke he'd throw one away rather than having three because it's uneven."

Beckham is a god on the football field. And in this case, cleanliness really is next to godliness.

At times, he's been known to pick out clothing that matches his furniture.

"He makes perfect arrangements out of things," said Ian Denyar, who directed a 2002 TV documentary on the football star. "The DVD player has to be parallel to the edge of the table." [Next: Johnny Depp]

3. Johnny Depp: Clourophobia

A fear of clowns is no laughing matter, especially to Johnny Depp and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs.

"Something about the painted face, the fake smile," Depp told reporters while promoting Sleepy Hollow."There always seemed to be a darkness lurking just under the surface, a potential for real evil."

Combs is also said to suffer from clourophobia. But he has repeatedly denied that his performance contracts call for a "no clown" clause, perhaps because it doesn't fit his bad-boy image.

Several years ago, Depp purchased a painting by John Wayne Gacy, the children's clown turned serial killer who tortured and killed 33 boys and young men.

The painting was a self-portrait of Gacy as "Pogo the Clown."

"They told me when I got it that the proceeds went to a charity or to the victims' families or something, but I found out that wasn't the case," Depp told the San Francisco Examiner.

Depp still finds clowns vexing. "Something must have happened when I was a kid," he recently told Entertainment Weekly. [Next: David Gest] 4. David Gest: Phonophobia

Life is a cabaret of legal trouble for Liza Minnelli and her estranged husband David Gest. Earlier this year, he sued her for $10 million, claiming he was a battered husband.

Days later, she sued for divorce, claiming he was "cruel and inhuman" to her.

The 50-year-old Gest claims he's in constant pain from beatings during the 15-month marriage. The show business producer claims to be taking 11 different medications a day, some more than once, for headaches, nausea, hypertension, scalp tenderness, insomnia — and phonophobia.

Phonophobia? Minnelli might assume that must be Gest's fear of being phony. After all, she denies all the allegations of violence.

However, phonophobia is the fear of using a telephone and, especially, the fear of the sound of your own voice.

While it's unusual grounds for divorce, Gest's lawyer Raoul Felder told reporters, "I have enough grounds for 14 divorces here," he said. "We could divorce the entire Yankee team, including the bullpen." [Next: Christina Ricci] 5. Christina Ricci: Botanophobia

Here's something to put in Christina Ricci's Christmas stocking — a Weed Whacker. The 23-year-old actress admitted to British Esquire this summer that she suffers from a form of botanophobia — and we're not exactly talking about Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

Ricci swears she's afraid of houseplants. "They are dirty," she said. "If I have to touch one, after already being repulsed by the fact that there is a plant indoors, then it just freaks me out."

Ricci's also not so keen on swimming pools: "I won't swim in a pool by myself because I think that somehow a little magic door is going to open up and let the shark out."

6. Roger Moore: Hoblophobia

Being The Man With The Golden Gun gave Roger Moore a nervous tic. The star of seven James Bond films was decidedly more shaken than stirred by his License to Kill firearms.

"The only acting I ever did was trying not to blink because as soon as I pick up a gun I start blinking," said Moore at a 1993 UNICEF fund-raiser.

In espionage, however, a nervous secret agent can hide under his bed and still tell his boss he's deep undercover. [Next: Alfred Hitchcock] 7. Alfred Hitchcock: OvophobiaWas Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, chicken around eggs? To witness his ovophobia, just watch To Catch a Thief.

In the breakfast scene, set in an elegant hotel on the French Riviera, actress Jessie Royce Landis — playing the part of Grace Kelly's mother — harpoons her sunny-side-up eggs like Norman Bates in the shower scene of Psycho.

Hitchcock was ahead of his time in many ways, including his calls for smoking bans at the dinner table — a predilection tied more to his food hang-ups than fears of secondhand smoke.

"He hated eggs, unless they were disguised in a soufflé," Hitchcock's daughter, Patricia O'Connell, told the Chicago Tribune in 1993.

"He just said they were so horrible-looking — that you'd cut into them and that yellow stuff would run all over. He thought it was absolutely disgusting."

While filming the Birds, actress Susan Pleshette recalled a berating she received from Hitchcock's assistant:

"She said, 'Don't put your cigarette out in your eggs,' " Pleshette said. "'He hates eggs, he hates cigarettes, and frankly, he hates you.' " [Next: Woody Allen] 8. Woody Allen: Anhedonia

Woody Allen turned his neurosis into a career. "I've been killing spiders since I was 30,'' he boasts to Diane Keaton in Annie Hall.

In addition to various insects, Allen also claims to have morbid fears of sunshine, dogs, children, heights, small rooms, crowds, cancer and various illnesses, and any place on earth outside Manhattan.

Is he really such an emotional wreck? Or is it just well-worn schtick that pays for the therapy bills? It's hard to say.

There might be a clue in the original title of Annie Hall. Allen wanted to call it Anhedonia — the inability to feel pleasure.

United Artists couldn't come up with an advertising campaign explaining the meaning of the word. Allen compromised on naming the film after Keaton's character three weeks before the premiere. [Next: Billy Bob Thornton] 9. Billy Bob Thornton: Panophobia?It's hard not to laugh at Thornton's phobias. A 48-year-old guy who's afraid of antique furniture is really off his rocker — assuming it's an old rocker.

"I don't know if it's a past-life thing, but I felt like some beheaded king," said Thornton, who went into shock after checking into a five-star hotel in London, when his ex-wife Angelina Jolie was filming Laura Croft: Tomb Raider.

"Maybe it's a past-life thing and I got beat to death with some old chair," Thornton later told Oprah Winfrey. "I don't really know. But anyway … I'm totally serious. And I can't eat around antiques."

Still, Thornton, an Oscar-winning screenwriter and A-list actor, is thriving in Hollywood despite his idiosyncrasies.

Halle Berry, who won a best actress Oscar staring opposite Thornton in Monster's Ball, says he was only able to eat in one scene if he used a brand new plastic spoon, right out of the box.

Don't look for Thornton to turn to theater any time soon. According to a recent issue of Maxim, stage sparks a reaction in him, he says, that "almost borders on Tourette's."

On the set of Love Actually, Hugh Grant admitted that he teased Thornton with a picture of 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

Disraeli's hair causes another strange reaction, Thornton admitted. "It's not something I can really explain."

Buck Wolf is entertainment producerat ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files ispublished Tuesdays. If you want to receive weekly notice whena new column is published, join the e-maillist.

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