The undeniably talented multi-hyphenate Jamie Foxx has had a blessed career. His list of acting credits clocks in at just under 80 roles. He won the Best Actor Oscar for Ray in 2005. His 2008 album Intuition is certified platinum. He has found success as a TV game show host at the helm of Beat Shazam, which was picked up for a fourth season in January 2020. His net worth, as of November 2020, is $150 million.
Yes, it may seem like we didn’t hear from him for a while. And sure, his (failed) relationship with Katie Holmes seemed to get more press than his professional accomplishments for a bit. However, his acting career is still going strong. For starters, in late 2020, he was cast in Netflix’s Day Shift. The Hollywood Reporter reported that Foxx is all set to reprise the role of Electro in a forthcoming Spider-Man movie. And as Todd McFarlane told SYFY Wire in October 2020, he and Foxx have had a Spawn movie in the works for “years.”
But despite his successes on the big and small screens, his life has been anything but smooth. Starting at an early age, Foxx (born Eric Marlon Bishop) faced numerous challenges and, over the years, he’s experienced repeated disappointment and heartbreak when it comes to his family life. Here are the tragic details about Jamie Foxx’s life that even his biggest fans may not know.
At 7 months old, Jamie Foxx was abandoned
Jamie Foxx didn’t have an easy start in life. His parents, Louise Annette Talley Dixon and Darrell Bishop, split before his first birthday and left Foxx behind. Luckily, as he told O, the Oprah Magazine in 2005, he was taken in by his “role model,” his grandmother, Estelle Marie Talley. “Although my parents weren’t around, my grandparents adopted me when I was 7 months old,” he told Oprah Winfrey, adding, “I was never short on the love of a mother and father, though it came from an earlier generation of family.”
But Talley didn’t have a blood obligation to take in her grandson. As the Oscar winner explained to Entertainment Weekly in 2020, Talley wasn’t actually Louise Dixon’s biological mother. “[My mother] was adopted by the same lady as well, so literally, legally, she’s my sister,” he revealed. Opening up about the powerful impact Talley’s selfless act had on his life, Foxx fought back tears during a 2017 episode of Beat Shazam as he told viewers, “My grandmother, that’s not actually my biological grandmother, that’s somebody who said, ‘I see something in that little boy that’s very special’ and she made sure I had every tool that I needed to grow and expand.” He added that “when you’re a kid, you just wanna be loved.” And show Foxx love is exactly what Talley did.
Jamie Foxx grew up feeling 'puzzled' by his dad
When Oprah asked Jamie Foxx in 2005 if he “honestly never missed” his mom and dad, the actor let his guard down. “Well, maybe I missed my mother a little,” Foxx conceded, revealing that he used to wonder if Louise Dixon would come back and give him a different life. “I wanted my mom to show up, but for a different reason: She was so fly and good-looking,” he told O magazine, adding, “We were country, but my mom was straight city. She had the new hair, the gold earrings, the Stingray Corvette.”
As for his father’s absence, Foxx said he was left feeling “puzzled” by it. “Why couldn’t he drive 28 miles to check on a son who passed a football more than 1,000 yards?” he asked. During a 2004 interview with GQ, Robert Daniels, who coached Foxx in both track and football in high school, shared a similar story, telling the outlet that Foxx always held out hope that his dad would show up to watch him compete, but he never did. “Not even when he went to the state championship,” the mag noted. Foxx told Winfrey that his biological father was “not in my life presently” but he was quick to brush it off, adding, “It’s not necessary.”
'The door is open' to Jamie Foxx's estranged father
Through the years, Jamie Foxx and his biological father have been unable to reconcile, despite the Ray star’s efforts. Getting candid about their failed attempts, he told Oprah Winfrey, “I think some of his absence has to do with his being a Muslim. He drew a line in the sand: ‘I’m a Muslim, and since you’re not, I can’t be your father.'” Foxx recalled that the last time they spoke, he said, “Listen, I understand observing your religion, but is that worth missing out on your son’s life?” Ultimately, that argument didn’t persuade Darrell Bishop. As Foxx told GQ, when his father showed up at Grandma Talley’s funeral in 2004, he asked his son, “Am I in the family? Are you my son? Are you not my son? I wanna reconcile but I’m scared.” Then he disappeared again.
And while Foxx told The Sunday Times in 2014 that “the door is open,” he admitted “there are questions” from his childhood they’d have to work through. “‘What happened? Where were you? Were you stricken with something? Could you not make it?’ Growing up, I would always go, man, I’m a good dude,” he reminisced. “I wasn’t the kid getting in trouble. I was quarterback on the high school football team. And he only lived 28 miles away.” Foxx added that he decided to “grade him a little harder for that, because he could have tried.”
Jamie Foxx's mother raised two other kids
While Jamie Foxx’s biological mother didn’t come back for her young son, she did go on to have and raise two more children. As GQ reported in 2004, Foxx has two half-siblings from his mother’s side who were both raised by her. He’s adamant that he holds no grudges against any of them, however. As he told Oprah Winfrey, he’s never wondered why his siblings were offered a different opportunity “because I’m older than my sister[s], it’s not like she chose to keep one and not the other at the same time.”
And it seems he wasn’t kidding. Once he found fame, Foxx actually invited half-sister Deidra Dixon, a hairdresser he described to GQ as being “a real fireplug,” and half-sister DeOndra Dixon, who was born with Down syndrome, to live with him in his L.A. home. According to the outlet, he was also happy to help support them financially — a decision that had his friends worried. “I said, ‘You know what? If I can’t take care of my sister who has Down syndrome, what will people think of me’ sittin’ up in Mr. Chow, drinking Dom Pérignon and doing interviews with GQ?'” he shared.
His mother tried to push a grown Jamie Foxx away
Jamie Foxx was always open to reconciling with his biological parents — “It’s just kind of like, my arms are open if you wanna get the hug. And if you don’t, my arms are still open,” he told GQ — but it wasn’t easy. Gilbert Willie Jr., Foxx’s best friend since childhood, told GQ in 2004 that Foxx’s mother “doesn’t ask for anything from him, but he wishes she would.” And when he took the mag to visit Louise, she didn’t even open the door. “She gets like this,” he explained. “She doesn’t want to answer the tough questions.”
In 2005, Foxx told O magazine that he and his mother “don’t talk,” but in 2008, things changed. As he revealed on The Graham Norton Show in 2020, “I would always send her tickets on Christmas, [saying] ‘If you ever wanna come, you know, for Christmas,’ so finally she accepted. She comes, we have a good Christmas and then New Year’s comes.” Before they knew it, “it’s February and she hadn’t left.” He shared that his mother has been living with him ever since.
It was not an easy transition, but it has been powerful. “We’re trying to learn [about] each other,” he told The Sunday Times, and in doing so, he began to “realize certain things that you missed when you were growing up, like, ‘Oh, I do that because of that,’ or ‘Oh, I do this because of this.'”
When Jamie Foxx's grandmother died, he lost his 'rock'
Jamie Foxx has never shied away from praising his grandmother, telling Entertainment Weekly she “was my crew” and gushing to Oprah Winfrey that Grandma Talley taught him confidence and put him on the path to success. “I’d been playing piano since I was five, when my grandmother said, ‘This is how you’re going to make your money,'” he revealed, noting it was because of her that he “won a classical piano scholarship to United States International University.”
Sadly, in 2004, Estelle Marie Talley died at the age of 95 after an 11-year battle with Alzheimer’s and that was the day when Foxx lost his “buddy,” grandmother, and mother. “If you could go to heaven right now and say, ‘Where is Estelle Talley?’ Do that interview […] that’s who knows me. Nobody else,” he told GQ a few weeks after her passing. To this day, Talley’s loss weighs heavily on the Oscar winner who celebrated her would-be birthday in 2019 by posting a sweet snap of the two of them to Instagram and writing, “My rock… Miss u always… #iwishyouwerehere.”
A mental health battle has been part of Jamie Foxx's story
Sitting down with Hip Hollywood in 2018, Jamie Foxx gave fans a glimpse into his secret struggle with mental health when he revealed he’d had an experience similar to friend Kanye West’s mental breakdown. “When he talked about the drugs, the mental drugs, I’ve had an episode of that,” Foxx began, noting, “When he was talking about, ‘Yo, I went in for two pills, and then [got] seven pills,’ that’s real.” Describing his own symptoms, he revealed he “thought everyone renamed everything in the world.”
Foxx went on to say (via Metro UK) that he “was in a bad place because I felt like I might be literally losing my mind.” Sharing that he’s “always had a childhood fear of losing my mind,” the actor told fans that it all started with an incident at a college party in which his drink was spiked with PCP, a hallucinogenic drug. “It happened to me when I was 18, and I had 11 months of harsh flashbacks, and then when I was 26 I had a flashback just like that,” he recalled. “And another one when I was 32, and that was the last one, but I always worry about it coming back.”
Difficult times for the father figure in Jamie Foxx's life
While his grandparents raised him, Jamie Foxx did find another father figure: his stepfather, George Dixon. GQ described him as Louise’s “second or third ex-husband” and Foxx told the outlet, they bonded over sports. “When I was running track, I’d always be looking for my stepfather [in the stands],” he recalled. “Sometimes he’d stand outside the fence and say, ‘C’mon, man!’ And I’d make it. I’d make the high jump.”
Then, hardship struck once more. “They put my father in jail for $25-worth of illegal substance […] for seven years,” Foxx revealed on The Graham Norton Show in 2020. “That father taught me everything. Taught me how to throw a football, basketball, taught me how to play tennis,” he continued. Describing how difficult it was to come to terms with his stepdad being sentenced to time behind bars, he admitted, “I told my pops, ‘I can’t come see you because I see you as a king.'”
Meanwhile, speaking with GQ, the Django Unchained star admitted to feeling “he let me down,” but he pushed through. “I wrote him a letter,” he told Graham Norton. “I said, ‘Hey, you know, things have gotten good for me, when you get out I’ll save your life.’ And he’s been living with me for 20 years now.”
Jamie Foxx lost his younger sister who taught him to live
Jamie Foxx was just 16 years old when half-sister DeOndra Dixon (whose parents are Foxx’s mother Louise and stepfather George Dixon) entered his life and changed it forever. As he told Dateline (via People) in 2018, it was thanks to her that he “learned how to live. Sometimes we get caught up in our world on the extras of everything — ‘Ah, the Mercedes is not the right color!’ — and then you see this girl over here, ‘I just want to live. I want to dance. I want to love.'” He said his sister “brings you back down to what life is.”
Sadly, the blows just kept coming for Foxx when 36-year-old DeOndra died in October 2020. Taking to Instagram to confirm the tragic news, he began, “My heart is shattered into a million pieces.” Foxx reminisced about all of the “parties at the house where she has got on the dance floor and stolen the show” and called her “a bright light.”
“Deondra you have left A hole in my heart,” he continued. “I will fill it with all of the memories that you gave me… I love you with every ounce of me… our family is shattered but we will put the pieces back together with your love.”
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