As a former entertainment/celebrity journalist, Mr. Crab maintains a minor obsession with all things celebrity. Bahrain is not exactly glittering Dubai, yet during our almost two years in Bahrain, a few celebs have passed through our shores including Toby Keith, Jessica Simpson, Joe Montana, Neil Armstrong, not to mention all the Formula 1 drivers who participated in the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix including Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and friends. And that got me thinking about famous folks that have once called Bahrain home.
Some top celebrities connected to Bahrain:
The late King of Pop is, by far, the most famous world celebrity to make his mark on Bahrain. Jackson lived in Bahrain from June 2005 to May 2006. Jackson fled from Neverland Ranch to Bahrain to hide out after he was acquitted of child molestation charges. My most accounts, Jackson spent his time in Bahrain shopping, once donning a women's burka to shop at Marina Mall. He once promised to build the Neverland of mosques in Bahrain (never happened). As a guest of Prince Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Jackson lived on the man-made Amwaj Islands, and apparently racked up millions of dollars in debt from his expensive lifestyle.
The Prince - himself an aspiring singer - later sued the King of Pop in a London court for the tune of $7 million for breach of contract, accusing Jackson of reneging on a deal to produce an album, including a song intended to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. Prince Abdullah's attorney told the court that the Prince felt "betrayed" by his friend. The two sides settled their case in 2008, but the damage was done. Michael Jackson died in June 2009. Jackson remains immensly popular here in Bahrain. Last week's 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix featured a performance by Navi, the world's top Michael Jackson impersonator.
Michael's brother reportedly converted to Islam after a 1989 trip to Bahrain. Jermaine's love for Bahrain must have made quite an impression on Michael. In September 2011, Jermaine wrote a new book in which he revealed a plan to secretly fly Michael Jackson from Los Angeles to Bahrain - which does not have an extradition policy with the United States - if he had been found guilty of child molestation charges.
Colombian-Lebanese pop singer Shakira lived in Bahrain as a little girl, briefly attending Bahrain School, run by the U.S. Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DODDS). Shakira even mentions Bahrain in her song "Ojos Asi". Shakira speaks Arabic, among a half dozen other languages. Her hips don't lie.
Brazilian-born actor Bruno Campos is best known for his role as Dr. Quentin Costa on Nip/Tuck. Bruno briefly lived in Bahrain as a child. By the time he was 14, Bruno had already lived in Bahrain, Brazil, Houston, and Toronto. "There was something exciting about being in a school filled with kids from around the world," Campos told Us Weekly in 1999 of his time in Bahrain. "I met my first real girlfriend there at 13. She was 18." You go, boy!
This ladies man plays FBI agent Derek Morgan on CBS' "Criminal Minds". Born in Oakland, California to an African-American father and Irish American mother, Shemar's family moved to Denmark as a baby, partly to escape the racist environment of the 1970s. The family moved to Bahrain. From age 4 to 7, Derek attended a British private school (The British School?), where his mother was a math teacher. "My mother put me in a British private school so I could learn English because she knew she was going to bring me back to the States eventually," he told Ability magazine, adding, "I’m grateful for that time of my life, though. I’m grateful for the travels and all of it, because I think it all instilled values and a sense of broad thinking."
Know of any other famous celebrities with a Bahrain connection? Drop me a line!