Yet it seems we just can’t resist them. From models to movie queens, from crowned heads to soap stars — few are immune to the smarmy charm of the cad. And they seem rampant in its upper echelons: even the late Princess Diana was royally snookered by one.
Back in 1986 former British household cavalry officer James Hewitt, wormed his way into emotionally vulnerable Di’s affections, while her husband was otherwise engaged with his then mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles.
But the lure of a fast buck proved greater than the love of a princess; and having flogged his story to the press, and provided novelist Anna Pasternak with intimate details of their affair for her turgid opus Princess in Love, the arch cad then attempted to sell his love letters from Diana for £10 million.
Following her untimely demise in 1997, Hewitt milked his notoriety by starring in a slew of low rent, instantly forgettable reality shows. (Cops, Cars and Superstars, anyone? Celebrity Wrestling? Back to Reality?) He continues to refute persistent rumours that he is the biological father of Prince Harry — even if one suspects he revels in it all.
But Diana was no stranger to cads; her brother Charles, now the 9th Earl Spencer is a veritable poster boy for the species. Having married British fashion model Victoria Lockwood in 1989, Spencer embarked on the first of many affairs when the couple’s firstborn, Kitty, was just six months old. Despite this, Victoria produced a further three children while battling drug addiction, anorexia and the blatant disdain of her husband. (Reminded of his duty to stick with his wife through thick and thin, Spencer famously quipped that she was “thin, and certainly thick.”) He finally called time on the marriage in typically caddish fashion by telling his wife that he no longer loved her and wanted a divorce while she was having a bath. Spencer has since worked his way through a broken engagement and a second marriage. He is now married for the third time. Another upper-class rogue was the late Alan Clark. Described by contemporaries as “a cad and a bounder” and “an arrogant, self-centred man who talks bollocks” the celebrated diarist and Tory MP seduced his teenage bride Jane when she was little more than a child and married her when she was just 16. But even as a newly wed, Clark lusted after other women, musing in his diary, “How delicious to have a succulent little mistress” even as the pair were trying for a baby. So brazen was his philandering, Clark left love letters to and from other women lying around for his wife to find. But despite all, she stuck with him to the end, afterwards lamenting the loss of “my lover, my friend, my dearest husband”.
Which begs the question: why on earth do women put up with such behaviour? A recent study by the University of Michigan resolved to determine what type of man a woman would want as a long-term partner. Entitled ‘Dad versus Cad’, it discovered that for brief entanglements, women preferred cads: dark, sultry heroes who are dominant, promiscuous and daring. However, for long- term relationships, ‘dads’ won out — men who are kind, compassionate and monogamous.
Which fails to explain the attraction of Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day Lewis, who famously dumped his French actress girlfriend Isabelle Adjani by fax when he discovered she was pregnant with his child. He later took up with fitness instructor Deya Pichardo, installing her in his Manhattan apartment. However, he neglected to inform her of his whirlwind affair with actress Rebecca Miller, much less of their secret marriage. Deya only learned of the nuptials when a friend rang to congratulate her, assuming she was the new bride.
With admirable understatement, Day-Lewis’s uncle Jonathan Balcon duly branded his nephew a ‘bounder.’ Ditto Steve Jobs. One shouldn’t speak ill of the dead but in his case we’ll make an exception. The co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple might have had brains to burn and a novel take on global networking, but his genius didn’t stretch to gallantry. Upon learning that his 23-year-old girlfriend Chris-Ann Brennan was pregnant in 1978, Jobs refused to acknowledge paternity, swearing in court documents that he could not be the father because he was ‘sterile and infertile and as a result did not have the physical capacity to procreate a child’.
Growing up with her single mother, Job’s daughter Lisa wrote poignantly of their humble circumstances despite her father’s wealth and renown. Jobs eventually acknowledged her, revealing that the Apple Lisa computer which he claimed was an acronym for ‘Local Integrated Software Architecture’ was in fact named after his daughter. Cordial relations ensued and Lisa was by her father’s bedside when he died earlier this year.
Tennis star Boris Becker was equally reluctant to acknowledge paternity of his daughter Anna, hastily conceived with model Angela Ermakoya in the broom cupboard of London’s Nobu restaurant in 1999. But even without DNA evidence, the hapless infant’s gooseberry eyes and scarecrow hair said it all: like father like daughter.
When actress Elizabeth Hurley gave birth to her son Damien in 2002, the baby’s father, Steve Bing initially denied responsibility, claiming that he and Hurley had had no more than a brief, non-exclusive relationship in 2001. Only when Hurley demanded a DNA test did Bing capitulate, investing $2.7m in a trust fund for his son.
By contrast, upon learning that he was to become a father after a liaison with Chinese actress Tinglan Hong, Hurley’s previous long-term boyfriend and on-screen cad Hugh Grant declared himself delighted, and provided mother and child with a home in London convenient to his own.
Meanwhile, Rolling Stone Mick Jagger continues to flaunt his bad-boy credentials. With at least seven children to four women, the twice wed rocker has had countless liaisons over the years. First wife Bianca famously declared that her marriage ended on her wedding day, while Wife No 2 Jerry Hall had enough when it emerged that the ageing lothario had fathered a child with Brazilian model Luciana Giminez. “He’s a good father but a lousy husband,” Hall declared before showing him the door.
Closer to home, the doings of Z- list celeb Calum Best gives truth to the adage that “what’s in the cat’s in the kitten.” As a role model for bad behaviour, Best Snr was pretty much unrivalled, having abandoned Calum’s mother Angie when their son was a baby, treated his second wife Alex poorly, drank and caroused his way through a fortune, and was arrested and charged with assault on a nightclub waitress. By comparison, Best Jnr is a pussycat, even if model Georgia Salpa might beg to differ having ditched him for cheating with DJ Donna Air. “He says nothing happened but I can’t trust him,” Salpa declared.
Now you’re talking, girl.