Johnny Depp

On this date in 1963, actor John Christopher Depp II was born in Owensboro, Ky., the youngest of four children of Betty Sue (Wells) Palmer and John Christopher Depp. His father, a civil engineer, left the family when Johnny was 15. He then dropped out of school. In a 1996 Playboy interview, Depp said he counted his mother’s waitress tips when she got home. He has “Betty Sue” tattooed on a heart on his left arm.

In the interview, he talked about his bible-thumping uncle: “That gave me an odd sense of religion. He was theatrical in the pulpit. He would start crying, praising the Lord. Pretty soon the adults were screaming hallelujah, getting on their hands and knees, crawling up to kiss his shoes, and I just didn’t buy it. I’m not saying my uncle was full of shit, because he was a good guy. I just didn’t like the duality — seeing him behave normally at home and a whole different way in the pulpit. It was too convenient.”

Depp fronted several rock bands, singing and playing guitar, keyboard and drums. On a trip to Los Angeles after he married his first wife, Lori Allison, and was working as a ballpoint pen salesman, he met Nicolas Cage, who convinced him to try acting. That led to Depp’s film debut in 1984’s “Nightmare on Elm Street.” A role in the TV series “21 Jump Street” made him a teen idol and led to Hollywood opening its doors to him further.

Collaborating for the first time with director Tim Burton in 1990’s “Edward Scissorhands,” he started carving a niche “as a serious, somewhat dark, idiosyncratic performer, consistently selecting roles that surprised critics and audiences alike,” according to the Internet Movie Database. As of this writing, Depp has 77 credited roles in films and TV. With his dark good looks, Depp is a perennial favorite on “sexiest” lists. He’s also on “wealthiest actor” lists, topping it in 2012 with an estimated $75 million in earnings.

Films featuring Depp have grossed over $3.1 billion in the U.S. and over $7.6 billion worldwide. He has three Oscar nominations and numerous Golden Globe nominations, winning the latter for Best Actor for demon barber “Sweeney Todd” in 2008. It was announced in early 2016 that Depp and his actress wife Amber Heard (he’s 23 years older) would both speak at the Reason Rally at the Lincoln Memorial in June. He and Heard divorced in 2017. Depp has two children with French singer/actress Vanessa Paradis: Lily-Rose Melody, born in 1999, and John Christopher III “Jack,” born in 2002.

After a six-week trial in 2022 on claims and counterclaims of defamation, a jury found Heard libeled Depp in a 2018 op-ed alleging domestic abuse. Depp was awarded $10.35 million in damages. The jury also found one of Depp’s lawyers defamed Heard and awarded her $2 million. The final resolution, in December 2022, awarded $1 million to Depp, who said he would donate it to charity.

PHOTO: By Angela George under CC 3.0.

Freedom From Religion Foundation