Nannies and the Famous Men Who Love Them


Apr. 11 2008, Published 9:09 a.m. ET

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Famous dads who run off with the family nanny seems to be a growing epidemic in Hollywood these days. From Jude Law to Robin Williams, OK! has decided to take a look into what makes this controversial attraction so appealing.

Let's begin with Ethan Hawke, who earlier this week and about with pregnant girlfriend and former nanny Ryan Shawhuges. The couple claims they didn't get together until after his 2005 divorce from Uma Thurman had finalized.

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Hawke is only the most recent Hollywood celeb to be linked to his household helper.

In 2005, Jude Law's engagement to Sienna Miller was rocked by a month-long affair he had with his children's nanny, Daisy Wright. Law attempted to reconcile with Miller and issued a public apology for his humiliating tryst. "I just want to say I am deeply ashamed and upset that I've hurt Sienna and the people most close to us. There is no defense for my actions which I sincerely regret," he said.

And then there's unlikely heartthrob Robin Williams, who in 1988, left his wife of 10 years, Valerie Velardi, for his family's nanny, Marsha Garces. The couple had two children before their 19-year marriage dissolved this year.

Williams, Law and Hawke are hardly the only stars to take up with the hired help — country singer Sara Evans' 13-year marriage to Craig Schleske fell apart after it was revealed that Schleske had an affair with their nanny, and one of Rob Lowe's former nannies alleges that she had an affair with the West Wing star.

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So what is it about nannies that makes them irresistible to Hollywood celebs?

According to relationship expert and author April Masini, stars gravitate to these relationships because "nannies provide a comfort level for these men. They're nurturing caregivers." Masini argues that celebs having relationships with nannies isn't much different from "CEOs having affairs with their secretaries or assistants. These women know them. They don't have to feel judged."

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Masini says she also believes that "generally speaking, I think it's very difficult to have two stars in a family competing for the spotlight. There are obviously cases where it seems to work well — like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt — but I think the reason their relationship works so well is that their primary focus is on their kids. And they're both mega-stars." In most cases, says Masini, "It's too difficult to have two people in the same line of work fighting for attention and recognition."

ethan hawke
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That was certainly true when it came to Hawke's six-year marriage to Thurman. In a 2006 interview, Hawke admitted that fame had a major part in destroying the couple's relationship. "I didn't like being famous when I was single, and what it did to my celebrity status to be married to another famous person was a huge pressure — one I didn't enjoy. And it had nothing to do with her. Nothing to do with her."

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Suzanne Hanson is the author of You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again, a tell-all memoir about her experiences nannying for Danny Devito, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and various other Hollywood luminaries. She says the nanny/star relationship dynamic is so compelling because of the intimate relationship the nanny has with the family. "You're so close. You're traveling with them. You're walking into the bedroom."

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Nannies, she says, are also conveniently "available" to married men who can't be seen out dating.

For young women working as nannies, the prospect of hooking up with a famous star is all-too-tempting. "Who wouldn't be flattered that a celebrity is interested in them?" It's easy to start liking these men, cautions Hanson, "especially if the wife is mean. You start feeling sympathetic."

Hanson advises that any nanny who is propositioned by a client should leave. "It's the only professional thing to do if there's an undercurrent of interest."

Still, nannies are difficult for many high-profile stars to resist. Nannies, says Masini, "are non-threatening. They create warm and cozy environments. They don't judge, criticize or compete. They nurture." And whether men want to admit it or not, says Masini, "all men want to be nurtured — even famous men."


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