Susan Boyle: A cautionary tale for celebrity age

Mon Jun 1, 2009 4:05pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Talent show contestant Susan Boyle's giddying rise from unemployed Scottish church volunteer to global superstar has come at a price, in what is being seen as a cautionary tale for the celebrity age.

On the way up, the 48-year-old's performance last month of "I Dreamed a Dream" on television series "Britain's Got Talent" was downloaded nearly 200 million times on the Internet, and within days Boyle was headline news around the world.

Camera crews camped outside the home where she lived alone with her cat; Larry King and Oprah Winfrey invited her on to their U.S. shows and tabloid newspapers tracked her every move.

But as the pressure built ahead of Saturday's final, which Boyle had been runaway favorite to win, she was reduced to tears, threw a tantrum and threatened to pull out of the show.

On Sunday, after her shock defeat by dance troupe Diversity, the singer was admitted to a clinic in London that treats people with mental health problems, suffering from exhaustion. The Sun tabloid reported she had an "emotional breakdown."

"Being famous is not all it's cracked up to be, and the idea that you can have a personal life and a media life is often pretty conflicting," said David Moxon, a health psychologist who specializes in stress.

"It must be difficult to walk down the street and be mobbed by people.

"I don't think Boyle did that (deliberately pursued celebrity). She was pursuing a love of singing that she had and that is the sad part of this story. But it is a cautionary tale for people and it shows fame has its price."   Continued...

<p>A general view shows The Priory Hospital in north London, June 1, 2009. REUTERS/Stephen Hird</p>