Casey Johnson was the heiress to the famous Johnson and Johnson empire, but she became most famous in lesbian circles for her relationships with Courtenay Semel and Tila Tequila before she died from complications from diabetes at the age of 30 in 2010. A new book about her family is coming out August 13 and inside her mother details Casey’s life. Jerry Oppenheimer‘s Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal, and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty includes some sad truths about the bisexual daughter of Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets, including the fact that Casey was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder as a young girl.
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Her mother Sale Johnson says in the book:
“Borderline personality disorder ruled Casey’s life. It stole her teenage years and her young adulthood life away from her. It’s a mental health disease that confounds, scares, hurts the victim, her family, her friends, and her doctors. They don’t want to treat it because it has the highest suicide rate, and no cure, and [someone like Casey] is a 24/7 patient.”
At different points in her twenties, Casey was estranged from family members including her father, which Sale seems to think is because of her mental health issues. Two years before her death she decided to adopt a child, daughter Ava-Monroe, who she named after Marilyn Monroe. Says her mother in the book:
“I told her I was totally against the adoption. I said, ‘You don’t have your own life together, how are you going to keep track of somebody else’s life? This is not a puppy that if it doesn’t work out, you can give it to a friend.’ ”
Sale is now 7-year-old Ava-Monroe’s guardian, although at the time of Casey’s death, her fiancee Tila Tequila said she would be seeking custody. In the months leading up to her passing, tabloids ran stories on Casey and Tila’s relationship, which seemed strange considering they shared an ex-girlfriend, Courtenay Semel, an heiress to the Yahoo fortune who dated Casey from 2008-2009 and Tila in 2008. (She was also known for having been friends with Lindsay Lohan before she came out about her relationship with Samantha Ronson.) Courtenay was very vocal about Tila and Casey’s relationship, saying it was all for show and called Tila an attention whore.
The sad fact is that Casey perished from not taking care of her insulin needs, and was financially distraught. Her car was being repossessed, her electricity had been shut off, her body wasn’t discovered until a few days after she had passed. Sadly it doesn’t seem that there is much offered about Casey in Crazy Rich that hasn’t already been reported or commented on, as she comes off as a troubled young woman who battled demons in the public eye. Whether or not her relationship with Tila, a reality TV star, was “real,” it’s whatever Casey wanted it to be. If there’s anything we can take from her story and her life, it’s that self-care is important, no matter how much money you have or are born into.
In fact Tila Tequila seems to have some issues herself, having come out of rehab for substance abuse and posting some “illuminati” conspiracy theories on her social media outlets before subsequently deleting some of her accounts. DigitalTrends wrote a piece in May called “How social media created (and destroyed) Tila Tequila,” citing her early success on MySpace, which led to her reality TV career and ultimate infamousness. While A Shot at Love was one of the first (and only) versions of a dating show that included a queer presence, Tila was not seen as a reputable figure, largely because she attempted to profit off of her image through many different avenues (including a lesbian porn released on Vivid).
Tila has said she’s bipolar and has names for her different “personalities,” which is an indication that she might be in need of some mental stability. She, however, seems willing to and can receive it. One point DigitalTrends makes in their piece about Tila’s social media fame is that even the internet and the reaching out to people through Twitter or Facebook is that they are no replacement for real life people who can care and help you in the real world. By no means am I saying that Tila Tequila was involved with Casey Johnson’s demise, but it is sad that someone so closely involved in Casey’s life at the time of her death could indicate that Tila or Casey or both felt that the people in their lives had failed them. DigitalTrends writes:
…her rise and fall would be fine, and sort of karmic, except she’s clearly mentally unstable, and while she was given plenty of attention, she never received any of the help she clearly needs.
She’s the original example of how people will “connect” with you, “follow” you, and talk about you on social sites, but they won’t really know you – and they’re not there to help. Everyone wanted to be Tila’s friend on MySpace when she was there to provide titillation, but those same followers are nowhere to be found as she continues to exhibit profoundly paranoid characteristics. That’s why it’s useless to have millions of online “friends” when none of them are real.
Casey was a user of social media as well, but for her it could have been the isolation she felt as someone who was born into money and partied with the Hiltons and other rich people. Fame can be a lonely place, too, and as we’ve seen with so many other public figures like Britney Spears, Amanda Bynes or Anna Nicole Smith. Although the new book about the Johnson family doesn’t appear to do much more than tell the story from Casey’s mother’s perspective, hopefully it will remind people that she was someone’s daughter, mother and more than just a famous face missing from red carpets and the internet.
Perhaps the title Crazy Rich should be reconsidered.