Corey Feldman: From troubled child star to Hollywood's harbinger of doom

Seeking escape and stable adult role models, Feldman was a vulnerable target in Hollywood. While some like Steven Spielberg and Richard Donner mentored him, most took advantage as he had no family members looking out for him


                            Corey Feldman: From troubled child star to Hollywood's harbinger of doom
Corey Feldman (Getty Images)

"People always ask me about life after childhood stardom. What would I say to parents of children in the industry? My only advice, honestly, is to get these kids out of Hollywood and let them lead normal lives." ― Corey Feldman in 'Coreyography: A Memoir'.

The 80s was when Hollywood seemed to suddenly realize there was serious money to be made from content targetted at kids. A rash of child stars descended on the industry like Sean Astin, Ethan Hawke, Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, River Phoenix, and Joaquin Phoenix – mirroring the fame of the Brat Pack but only at a younger age. They also mirrored, off-screen, rocky personal lives with stories of drug abuse, partying lifestyles and bad behavior on sets. Many of them, like Drew Barrymore, and Macaulay Culkin came with the additional baggage of exploitative parents who they sought emancipation from. 

Feldman, who became emancipated at 15, has also talked about how his problems began at home. His mother, Sheila, was a former Playboy model who struggled with depression and drug use. His father, Bob, was a musician past his prime and liked to get high with Feldman. According to his memoir, Sheila was verbally abusive and critical of his looks and weight since he was only four years old. She dyed his hair blond and force-fed him diet pills because she felt he was fat.

When she caught him sneaking two cookies when he was five, she made him stand facing a wall for an hour, and abused him verbally saying: "You have no right to disrespect me like this . . . you ungrateful s**t." Feldman, who began his acting career in a McDonald's commercial when he was just three, became his family's main breadwinner by the time he was seven. In his memoir, he details a childhood derailed, banned from even riding a bicycle because his mother was worried he would be injured and unable to work. “You have responsibilities now,” she told him. Later, when he was fired from a TV movie for acting out, she attacked him with a wooden dowel after making him remove his clothes, screaming "I will f**king kill you, you worthless piece of s**t,” while he cowered under his little brother's crib.

Actor Joe Pantoliano, actor Jeff Cohen, actress Lupe Ontiveros, director Richard Donner, actor Ke Huy Quan, director Robert Davi and actor Corey Feldman attend the Warner Bros. 25th Anniversary celebration of "The Goonies" on October 27, 2010 in Burbank, California. (Getty Images)

Seeking escape and stable adult role models, Feldman was a vulnerable target in Hollywood. While some adults like 'Gremlins' director Steven Spielberg and 'The Goonies' director Richard Donner mentored him, most took advantage of the fact that he had no family members looking out for him.

In fact, it was Bob, his father, who hired the ’80s actor, Cloyd Jon Grissom, as Corey's personal assistant. Grissom was the first man who molested Feldman. Writing about him in his memoir using the false name "Ron Crimson", Feldman said that "Ron" would spend all his time with him and introduced him to hard drugs like quaaludes, crack, and heroin.

One night, after taking a cocktail of drugs Grissom had prepared for him, he felt a hand on his thigh. Grissom then had oral sex with the “petrified” and “revolted” Feldman who was too frightened to protest. He was also, heartbreakingly, scared of losing him as a friend.

After his success in films like 'Gremlins' (1984), 'The Goonies' (1985), and 'Stand By Me' (1986), he was teamed up with Corey Haim in 'The Lost Boys' (1987) that started the dream run on screen, for "The Two Coreys" as they came to be known. 'The Lost Boys' would have been an equally appropriate moniker since both spent their teen years partying and living with their molesters.

Actors Corey Haim and Corey Feldman pose outside Las Palmas club October 17, 2001 in Hollywood, CA. (Getty Images)

In 'Coreyography: A Memoir', Feldman details one of his first encounters with Haim when they were just 14 on the sets of 'The Lost Boys'. Instantly bonding on set and off, as they stayed in the hotel watching movies and visiting the local arcade, Haim decided to confide in Feldman.

He told Feldman that when he was on the set of his 1986 film 'Lucas', an adult male told him it was "perfectly normal" for older men and younger boys in the business to have sexual relations. "So they walked off to a secluded area between two trailers . . . and Haim allowed himself to be sodomized,” Feldman wrote.

Haim then reportedly asked him: “So, I guess we should play around like that, too?” Feldman, who had more of an inkling about what constituted child sexual abuse, told Haim, "No, that's not what kids do, man."

According to Feldman, Haim would beg him to find him someone to have sex with. “I need a girl. I need a girl right now. Can you call a girl for me? Come on, man. I just need somebody to take care of me,” he told Feldman.

When Haim reportedly tried to hook up with Feldman again, Feldman wanted to deflect his interest in him and referred Haim to a man he refers to as "Tony Burnham" who he knew had a crush on Haim. Burnham became Haim’s main molester just like Grissom was Feldman’s.

By 15, he and Haim were a magnet for pedophiles. Feldman recalls a picture taken at his 15th birthday party where he and Haim were flanked by five men who had molested both or one of them. 

Feldman has revealed the names of two other abusers. On 'The Dr. Oz Show' in 2017, he said Alphy Hoffman had sexually abused him when he was 14 years old. Hoffman ran Alphy’s Soda Pop Club in the 1980s, which hosted underground parties for child stars of that time. Other child stars who attended these parties, backed Feldman’s claim, saying these parties were a known haunt for Hollywood's pedophiles. The now 48-year-old actor has also named the former child talent manager and convicted sex offender, Marty Weiss.

This period, which coincided with "Coreymania" and A-list stardom, was so bad that when Feldman’s father kicked him out of the house, the only person Feldman could turn to was Burnham. At the time, he thought he was doing the best he could because “he was the only person in my immediate circle who wasn’t molesting me.”

Ironically, it was around this time he also became friends with Michael Jackson, who according to him, gave him a safe space to escape to. “I was shattered, disgusted, devastated. I needed some normalcy in my life. So, I called Michael Jackson,” he wrote in his memoir. “Michael Jackson’s world, crazy as it sounds, had become my happy place. Being with Michael brought me back to my innocence. When I was with Michael, it was like being 10 years old again.”

In this handout provided by Harrison Funk and Kevin Mazur, actor Corey Feldman attends Michael Jackson's Public Memorial Service held at Staples Center on July 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty)

Feldman has repeatedly defended Jackson who he says never touched him sexually or even tried to. However, after 'Leaving Neverland' released, Feldman has recalled one instance that he feels now, as an adult, was inappropriate.

In an interview with British journalist Martin Bashir in 2005, he said he was at Jackson’s home when he was about 13 and there was a book on the coffee table featuring naked men and women.

"If you consider it inappropriate for a man to look at a book of naked pictures with a child that's 13 or 14 years old - then your answer would be yes," he said during the interview. "The book contained pictures of grown men and women naked. And the book was focused on venereal diseases and the genitalia."

Feldman has also wondered since if Jackson was grooming him but just didn't "pick" him. In reference to Robson and Safechuck’s allegations in 'Leaving Neverland', he told 'Rolling Stone':  “It caused me to have concerns. It’s the standard grooming process that they describe. Everything was similar [to what happened to me] up until the sexual part. Everything. He bought me gifts, a Watchman TV, a gold watch from Disneyland. So was he grooming me and I just never ended up being his pick? Or was that just who he was? That’s the fucking thing. We’ll never know. But I would have been exactly his type. I was cute, short and blond. You know?”

The friendship ended in 2001 which left Feldman devastated. Jackson heard a rumor that Feldman was planning to trash him in a book and shut him out, despite Feldman’s adamant denials. The two never spoke again.

Feldman's friendship with Haim also crashed and burned in 2007 after the two had reunited briefly for the A&E reality show, 'The Two Coreys'. Feldman, speaking to Us Weekly at the time, said the two were not on speaking terms because Haim had "big issues.”

Corey Feldman, and Corey Haim (R) attend the A&E Premiere Of 'The Two Coreys' held at Sugar nightclub on July 27, 2007 in Hollywood California. (Getty Images)

In the ensuing years, Haim spiraled hard. He was even caught asking high-school students where he could buy crack. After relapsing several times after rehab stints, Haim died of pneumonia in 2010 at age 38.

Feldman, now 48, had a similar spiral but seems to have left his drug days behind him. Though he was selling his "CDs on a corner in exchange for crack rocks” during the 90s and weathered three high-profile arrests for drug possession during that time, Feldman took to rehab better than Haim. But quitting his "$300 a day" drug habit was not easy. After a severe but short relapse in 1995, he claims to “never had another hard drug again.”

Feldman, who now has a 9-year-old son Zen, has been a vocal advocate against child sexual abuse. His self-funded, tell-all documentary '(My) Truth: The Rape of The Two Coreys', releasing on March 9, will name six people, of whom at least one is a high profile one.

Appearing on 'The Wendy Williams Show' earlier this month, he claimed that one of the alleged offenders is someone so famous “everybody on the planet knows” who they are and that his documentary will be "like Harvey Weinstein all over again". He has also claimed that many powerful people have tried to stop him from making the film that has taken years to make as a result.

'(My) Truth: The Rape of 2 Coreys' airs on March 9 at 11 pm ET. For those on the west coast, a second stream will begin on March 10 at 12 pm PT. The movie will get a one-time screening on the site MyTruthDoc.com.

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