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Celeb Kidnap Jitters

Rush to guard kids after Letterman scare

March 20, 2005

By Brad Hamilton and Elisa Lipsky Karasz

Celebs are wondering if they’ve done all they can to protect their kids after a painter for David Letterman was busted trying to kidnap the late-night host’s son and nanny.

One security expert says many of his high-profile clients are now going crazy to keep their kids safe.

“I just finished 35 minutes on the phone with a client talking him off the ledge and allaying his fears that something like this could happen to his children,” said Joe Russo, a vice president at T&M Protection Resources, which has protected clients such as Madonna.

“Since the Letterman story broke, we have been working with individual clients who have young children to make sure that the programs we have in place to address someone who might have been on the property for another reason,” said Russo, a former special agent in charge of President Bill Clinton’s Secret Service detail.

Here’s a rundown of what some stars have done to protect their most valuable assets, their children:

  • In London, Claudia Schiffer and her husband hired a squad of Gurkhas, fearsome Nepalese fighters in the British army, who posed as gardeners to protect their daughter, Clementine, and son, Caspar, after the couple was stalked by two crazed fans.

  • Jodie Foster shelled out $500,000 for a high-tech security monitor that allowed her to check her newborn son, Charles, from anywhere in the world and later hired a team of guards and installed a bulletproof peephole in her L.A. home.
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas brought in British and U.S. ex-special forces as bodyguards to thwart a kidnapping threat to their baby Dylan in early 2001.

    A celebrity’s child himself, Douglas was the target of an attempted kidnapping in 1950.

    “When I was just 6 years old and living in New York City with my father [actor Kirk Douglas], a couple of guys approached me outside our apartment building,” Douglas told a British paper in 2001.

    “I ran down into the basement and hid behind a big, old boiler. I could see them upstairs through an iron grille. They waited and waited — I will never forget it. It was a pretty traumatic experience.”
  • Soccer star David Beckham and wife Victoria, the former Posh Spice, sent their son, Brooklyn, to an English nursery school with a bodyguard after being targeted in a $10 million kidnapping scheme.
  • When Gwyneth Paltrow, who’d been stalked by a psycho pizza deliveryman, went to shoot a film in New Zealand last year, 10 security guards met her at the airport. Before she and her husband, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, had little Apple, they put up a five-foot-high security wall around their L.A. home to keep the baby safe.
  • Grumpy shock jock Don Imus hired Bo Dietl to do a complete criminal and financial work-up on everybody who works at his New Mexico ranch, where he runs programs for families of sudden infant death syndrome victims and kids with cancer and blood disorders.
  • Madonna employs a hulking bodyguard who sticks to her kids, Lourdes and Rocco, everywhere they go, including to a Central Park play area last summer. “He’s a big guy but he’s like a big teddy bear,” said one paparazzo who covers the Material Mom. “He’s always with Rocco, and they’re very attached to each other. But he looks like a giant next to Rocco.”