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Johnny Depp 'Worshipped' His Mom Even Though She Was the 'Meanest Human Being' He Ever Met

Junie Sihlangu
Apr 22, 2022
12:30 P.M.
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Johnny Depp grew up in an abusive household because of his mother. However, despite that, the actor still loved her and took care of her when he became reach, even though he had a shocking title for her.


Johnny Depp's birth name was John Christopher Depp II, and he was born on June 9, 1963, in Owensboro, Kentucky. His parents were Betty Sue Palmer and John Depp; the former was a homemaker and waitress, while the latter worked as a civil engineer.

Johnny was the youngest child out of four siblings and was an oddball and withdrawn from a young age. There was a time the Depp family lived in a motel for almost a year until John found a job.

Johnny Depp receiving the Gold Medal of Merit, on Serbia's Statehood Day, on February 15, 2022, in Belgrade, Serbia, and him with Betty Sue Palmer at the Los Angeles premiere of "Nick of Time" on November 20, 1995. | Source: Srdjan Stevanovic 7 Frank Trapper/Corbis/Getty Images


The future actor hated the new residence, and by the time he was 12, he'd started experimenting with drugs and smoking because of family issues. In Johnny's 2013 Rolling Stone interview, he revealed his family's past financial status.

The star said money was quite tight for his family as both parents didn't earn much. He recalled how bad it was that John and Palmer went into "a quadruple bankruptcy every Christmas."

Johnny Depp in a publicity portrait from the television series "21 Jump Street," in 1987. | Source: Fox/Getty Images


Things hadn't been any easier for Johnny's mother, who had been raised in the wilds of Appalachia in eastern Kentucky. She grew up in a shack where things were so bad that their toilet was an outhouse. 

Palmer had been on prescription medicine, phenobarbital, since age 12 for her seizures. Johnny's family often moved to accommodate John's job, and at age seven, the family was living in Miramar, Florida.

Johnny Depp at a Feed The Valley Homeless Benefit on December 13, 1987. | Source: Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images


In a 2018 Rolling Stone interview, Johnny shared how they first lived in Kentucky and then Florida before moving over 40 times. The constant moving affected him so severely that even now, he struggles with packing to go on vacation. 

The "Pirates of the Caribbean" star confessed in 2013 that he still had unpacked suitcases from past films like "Edward Scissorhands" and "Cry-Baby." The bags were abandoned some­where in a storage locker because he couldn't deal with them.


Johnny Depp in a scene from the film "Cry Baby," in 1990. | Source: Universal Pictures/Getty Images


Besides moving a lot as a child, Johnny also faced something much worse during his childhood. He explained that his youthful years weren't a good model to follow for raising children because of how Palmer brought them up, confessing:

“It was a relatively violent upbring­ing. If you did something wrong, you got hit. If you didn’t do something wrong, you got hit."

Johnny Depp and Betty Sue Plamer at The Academy in Los Angeles, California, on November 20, 1995. | Source: Barry King/WireImage/Getty Images


Johnny's mother would throw things at him and his siblings, and they got beaten for no valid reason. While Palmer was mean and abusive, John was the total opposite as he was "kind," "quiet," "shy," and never confrontational. 

When Palmer violently confronted her husband, he never reacted but stood and looked at her, taking in the pain she leveled against him. Despite his mother's behavior toward him, Johnny still cared for her when he became an adult.


Betty Sue Palmer, Johnny Depp,  and his girlfriend Vanessa Paradis at the 76th Annual Academy Awards on February 29, 2004, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images


When the "21 Jump Street" star was older and had started making money, his first big purchase wasn't something for himself. Johnny bought Palmer a house, a small horse farm outside of Lexington, Kentucky, stating:

“Betty Sue, I worshiped her,” adding at her 2016 funeral: “My mom was maybe the meanest human being I have ever met in my life.”

Johnny Depp in a black and white image at the Limelight in New York City, circa 1988. | Source: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images


After buying his mother's property, he splurged on himself with a 1940 Harley-Davidson. The star even recalled when Palmer would come home after working double shifts as a waitress.

She would count the coins that she got as tips while he massaged her feet. Despite the rough upbringing and how mean Johnny's mother was, whom he described as a "hellcat," he still shared that she was funny.


His love for his mother was unwavering, and on May 31, 1988, Johnny got a heart tattoo with the name "Betty Sue" written across it on his left arm. Tattoo artist Johnathan Shaw did the artwork.

On November 16, 1999, when Johnny was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he brought his parents along. The actor posed for photos with John and Palmer and his plaque.


Johnny Depp and Betty Sue Palmer posed while he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 16, 1999. | Source: Barry King/WireImage/Getty Images


While talking to Rolling Stone in 2013, Johnny revealed how he didn't resent his parents for how they brought him up. He explained that he felt they'd done the best they could "with what they knew."

Instead, what he went through made him do the best he could, which was the opposite of what his parents did. The actor clarified that he didn't think John and Palmer were terrible parents, just that they didn't know any different and came from a different time.

Christi Dembrowski at Johnny Depp's defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, on April 13, 2022. | Source: Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/AFP/Getty Images


According to Johnny's sister, Christi Dembrowski, her little brother never hit their mother back when she got abusive. Dembrowski said she and the actor made a pact that they would never repeat their parent's cycles once they left their home and got their places.

The star's older sister also revealed how Palmer had "softened" as she grew older. Sadly, the sibling's mother passed away just days before Amber Heard, Johnny's former wife, filed for divorce from him.


Betty Sue Palmer, Johnny Depp, and Vanessa Paradis at the 76th Annual Academy Awards  in Hollywood, California, on February 29, 2004. | Source: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images


Palmer died at age 81 on the morning of May 20, 2016, in Los Angeles after a long illness. In 2012, the "Dark Shadows" actor visited his mother at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

At the time, a source claimed Palmer was in the hospital's respiratory Intensive Care Unit (ICU). She was rushed to the hospital in Johnny's limousine, but her diagnosis wasn't given. 


The actor thanked the medical staff that had taken care of his mother before her death. Johnny noted how Palmer had gotten the best care and dedication from the team, who were kind enough to go beyond the call of duty.

Johnny [Depp] has applied the advice ever since because he said it has worked for him over the years. 

The star admitted that his mother and family would've been in the darkness without the medical professionals. Johnny noted that he owed the specialists a "deep debt of gratitude" that he couldn't repay.

Betty Sue Palmer and Johnny Depp at The 76th Annual Academy Awards in California on February 29, 2004. | Source: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images


Palmer might not have been perfect, but she did give Johnny some advice that he still abides by today. In 2015, while at the Toronto International Film Festival, the actor shared the advice his mother gave him about dealing with bullies, stating:

“I come from nothing but hillbillies and my mom said to me, ‘All right here’s the deal, next time anybody puts their hands on you, pick up a brick and lay them out.’”

The star said the lesson said a lot about his upbringing in Kentucky. Johnny has applied the advice ever since because he said it has worked for him over the years. 

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