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Wednesday, September 22, 1999 Published at 18:27 GMT 19:27 UK


Tantrums and tiaras

Frank Sinatra: A "manageable" megastar

When it comes to throwing a wobbly, the rich and famous have always been streets ahead of your average Joe.

From Joan Crawford and Judy Garland to Sir Elton John - star of his own biopic, Tantrums and Tiaras - their excessive antics are the bread and butter of gossip columns the world over.

Soon Diana Ross's alleged contretemps with a security officer at Heathrow airport will go down as just another footnote in the annals of celebrity misbehaviour.

[ image: Max Clifford has worked with the rich and famous for 30 years]
Max Clifford has worked with the rich and famous for 30 years
Max Clifford, public relations consultant to the stars, has had more than his fair share of big egos to contend with.

"There are loads of stars that are so revolting and so full of themselves. They are so used to getting their egos massaged they don't believe they should be treated like normal people," he says.

"They rapidly get to the stage of being above the law and above anyone."

His theory that they "start to believe their own publicity" maybe means Clifford and his cohorts are too good at their work.

His rule is never to pander to their demands or be sycophantic.

"There's only one way to work with the stars and that's if they need you more than you need them."

[ image: Elton John, star of his own biopic Tantrums and Tiaras]
Elton John, star of his own biopic Tantrums and Tiaras
Yet ironically, middling celebrities are sometimes more hassle than the really big cheeses.

Frank Sinatra and Muhammad Ali, two of the biggest names of the 20th Century, number among his favourite clients.

"Frank Sinatra was always great to work with as long as you were professional. The same goes for Muhammad Ali.

"Once they realise that you are a total sycophant, you are no use to them. It just gets in the way of work."

And despite his well honed techniques for handling precious personalities, Clifford says there are some stars he would refuse to take on.

"They become totally obsessed with themselves."

Arts and media psychologist Andy Evans says stars forget what it is like to live a normal life.

[ image: Muhammad Ali: One of Clifford's old clients]
Muhammad Ali: One of Clifford's old clients
"It's a status thing - celebrities have got high status. They get the best limousines, the best hotels; they are used to getting treated well."

In the case of Ross, "the airline's response to that would be 'well, we treat everyone the same'.

"But a star's response would be 'no, I'm higher status than that'.

"They feel, particularly in America where they are treated like royalty, that they are the powerful elite and are as close to royalty as you can get.

"Hollywood is a very status-conscious town. [Ross] would consider herself an A-star.

"She probably thought that someone was being rude or too personal and she isn't used to that. If one of our princesses were to be frisked like that, it would be rather strange.

"I wouldn't have thought anyone was above the law, the law applies to everybody. Some [stars] get done for drugs; some get done for murder. Even minor royals get charged for speeding."

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