It seems notoriously harsh American Idol judge Simon Cowell can't complain about his mother, Julie. He lunches with her twice a week while in London, and spent $500,000 on a surprise 80th birthday party for her in 2005. As for the gay question, that's thanks to mama,a former dancer. "It's probably my mother's influence." And no, he says he is not gay.
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These men share fame and fortune. But more importantly, they attribute their success to the positive influence of their mothers. Here, 15 leaders in medicine, film, politics, music, business and sports whose mother served as a role model, mentor and inspiration.
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The actor may have made a mistake with his "Winona Forever" tattoo, but one he doesn't regret is "Betty Sue," his mother's name on his arm. Depp was "raised primarily by his mother after his parents divorced when he was 15," according to USA Today. Betty Sue Palmer, a single mom, worked as a waitress to support her children and bought "Capt. Jack Sparrow" his first guitar (he stills plays in a band). His was an unstable youth, but Depp remains "very close to his mother."
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In "Dreams of My Father," President Obama describes his mother as the "one constant in life...I know that she was the kindest, most generous spirit I have ever known, and that what is best in me I owe to her." Although Ann Dunham passed away at 52 from ovarian cancer, those who were close to her "say they see her influence unmistakably in Obama," according to the New York Times.
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Ben Carson, MD
Dr. Carson, the world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon credits his can-do spirit directly to his mother. Although she was limited to a third-grade education and worked two or three jobs, she forced her sons to read and write reports on two library books a week. "All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my mother," Dr. Carson wrote in his memoir "Gifted Hands." Cuba Gooding, Jr., stars as Dr. Carson in an upcoming TNT biopic based on the book.
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Even Olympic swimming superstars deal with tough personal lives. Phelps grew up in a broken home, was bullied as a child and was diagnosed with ADHD at age 9. No matter! The Beijing superstar attributes his resilience, goal-setting and drive to his mother, Debbie. Just after winning his eighth medal, Phelps said, "There's so much emotions going through my head, so much excitement. I guess I just want to see my mom."
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The top judge on Bravo's "Top Chef" grew up chopping and stirring at the knees of his mother and grandmother. "Some of the dishes we ate for the holidays have evolved into the dishes I've put on my restaurants' menus," he told Epicurious.com. "And when I wanted to add a cannelloni dish to Gramercy [Tavern]'s menu, I called my mom." Colicchio secured his reputation at Gramercy in the 1990s.
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Before Donda West, an English professor, passed away from a heart attack following cosmetic surgery in 2007, she supported her son's rise to the very top of his profession. "My mom would be there; no matter what," West told the AP after her death. "And you know now when I'm on that stage and I look out and I say, 'What am I going to do with the rest of my life?'"
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Soccer stud David Beckham may be famous for an Adonis-like physique and masculine moves on the field, he's anything but a tough guy on the inside. Becks blames it on his mum. "My dad's sort of a man's man, but I've got more of my mum's personality. She's a lot softer, a lot more affectionate. We both get really emotional."
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One lady former President Bill Clinton has always been faithful to is his mother, widowed before his birth. "She went back to nursing school so that she could earn an income to support me," he told ABC News. During his early years, Clinton lived with his grandparents while his mother attended school. "As we pulled away from the station, Mother knelt by the side of the railroad tracks and cried as she waved good-bye. I can see her there still," he wrote in "My Life."
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