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John Christopher Depp II was born in Owensboro, Kentucky on June 9, 1963. The Roman numeral after his name determined that the new arrival would always be called Johnny, not John: "John Depp is my father," the actor tells interviewers who wonder if, at 41, he wants to drop the nickname for a more stately monicker. He does not. He has always been Johnny, and the name, with its suggestion of eternal youth and boundless affection, suits him perfectly His father, John Senior, was a city engineer, and his mother, Betty Sue, a waitress. He was always very close to his mother, but perhaps even closer to his grandfather, who he knew as Pawpaw (Depp himself was known as Dipp or Deppity Dawg). He'd visit Pawpaw often, and happily recalls sunny days picking tobacco together. It was a terrible shock to the seven-year-old boy when Pawpaw died.

Johnny didn't have a happy-go-lucky childhood. His family moved frequently and there was friction between his parents. As the youngest of the four Depp children, Johnny was least equipped to deal with the turmoil. The family spent a long time living in motels and were constantly shifting from place to place - well over a dozen in total. It was bad for the older kids - daughters Debbie and Christie (now Johnny's personal manager), and brother Danny (known as DP, now a screenwriter) - but Johnny took it especially hard. Though an inquisitive child - at 8 he was hugely interested in Evel Knievel and World War 2 - he did not take to school and went off the rails, once being suspended for mooning the gym teacher. By 12, he was smoking, very soon came drinking, and drugs. There was petty theft and vandalism, he lost his virginity at 13. Small wonder he got into rock and roll. Asked by an interviewer from Playboy if he felt "damaged as a child" or if he had "a relatively normal childhood," Johnny conceded that his early years were "strange [. . .]. It wasn't until I started going to other kids' houses and hanging out, having dinner, seeing what a family is supposed to do that I saw that we weren't normal." His parents' divorce, when Johnny was 15, was both inevitable and traumatic. "It had been coming for quite a long time," Johnny told PLAYBOY. "I"m surprised they lasted that long, bless their hearts. I think they tried to keep it together for the kids, and then they couldn't anymore." Today, John Depp owns a business in Florida; Johnny's mother, Betty Sue Palmer, eventually remarried, and Johnny's success in Hollywood made it possible for her to quit waitressing.

Depp had dropped out of High School at 16 to concentrate on music (his parents were divorced the year before). Now, in search of the big time, the band relocated to Los Angeles. By the age of 20, Depp was married, to make-up artist Lori Anne Allison, five years his senior. As The Kids were struggling, having to get day jobs to support themselves (Depp was at one point selling ballpoint pens over the phone), she suggested her husband try acting, and introduced him to her friend Nicolas Cage. Cage persuaded a reluctant Depp to meet his agent, Ilene Feldman and she got him an audition for an upcoming movie by Wes Craven, already notorious for The Hills Have Eyes. After the tests, Craven turned to his young daughter for casting advice - she liked Depp. And so Johnny made his feature-film debut as a hunky boyfriend devoured by a killer bed in A Nightmare On Elm Street.

With his run at 21, Jump Street coming to an end, Depp took another swipe at his image by starring in Tim Burton's lower-budget Batman-follow-up Edward Scissorhands. Spikey-haired, pasty-faced and horribly scarred, with terrifying blades for fingers, he tried to bury Tom Hanson for good. And, expressing himself only with his eyes and clumsy movements, he was brilliant, easily outshining his co-star Winona Ryder to whom he was then engaged. He'd earlier been engaged to Twin Peaks siren Sherilyn Fenn, between 1985 and '88, and then to Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Gray, but Ryder, he said, was the one. Their eyes had met at the premiere of her Great Balls Of Fire movie, they'd later been introduced at the Chateau Marmont hotel (where John Belushi OD-ed) and had their first date at a party thrown by psychedelic guru Dr Timothy Leary, Ryder's godfather. Depp famously had Winona Forever tattooed on his arm, then changed to Wino Forever when the couple split in 1993.

In 1994, Depp began a tempestuous on-off relationship with supermodel Kate Moss. He was arrested for trashing a New York hotel room (he'd been arrested in 1989, in Vancouver, for fighting with hotel security, and would be again, in 1999, for scrapping with the paparazzi). But his work got better and better. First, he returned to Tim Burton with Ed Wood, a loving portrayal of the hopeless transvestite director, for which Martin Landau won an Oscar as the ageing Bela Lugosi (Depp would later buy a Hollywood mansion formerly owned by Lugosi himself). Then there was the excellent Don Juan DeMarco where psychiatrist Marlon Brando attempts to convince a hilarious Depp that he's not the great lover of legend - only to discover that sometimes madness is better than sanity.

Finally splitting with Kate Moss in 1998, Depp would soon meet French singer/actress Vanessa Paradis and relocate to the south of France, then Paris, where he could live a "normal" life. They'd marry in 1998 and have two children.

Johnny has two beautiful children with Vanessa Paradis — daughter Lily-Rose Melody Depp, born on May 27, 1999, and son Jack John Christopher Depp III, born on April 9, 2002. His children, Johnny told GQ's Lucy Kaylin “gave me everything. A reason to live . [. . .] A reason to learn, a reason to breathe, a reason to care.” Asked this spring by OK! Magazine if he enjoyed fatherhood, Johnny replied: “I have become a perfect example of all the paternity cliches I laughed at for years. I look forward to having more children. I’d have a hundred if Vanessa were willing. For me, family is the most important thing in the world.”

Going on to making many more movies, Depp has become one of the most successful and unique actors in Hollywood. Today, he continues to live in France with his wife and children, as well as continue to make films for fans all around the world.

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