The actress was just 9 when her father passed away after battling cancer.
Julia Roberts is known for her disarming smile, but behind that smile are many untold tales that the talented artist holds within her heart. One of those stories is the tragic loss of her biological father, Walter Grady Roberts.
Julia's parents divorced when she was just a 5-year-old. Her mom, Betty Lou Bredemus, took her and her older sister Lisa to live in Smyrna, Georgia. Even though little Julia couldn't understand much of what was happening, she sure was close to her father because four years later when she was informed about her beloved father's death, she was shattered.
Walter passed away after a battle with cancer. While little Julia was heartbroken, it also left a void in the 9-year-old's life and changed something in her. "I think when you lose a parent as a young person, it takes away that dreamy quality of life that kids should be allowed. I think you are forever changed," Fabiosa quoted the actress.
The death of her father impacted the way she raised her three kids as well, as Julia revealed, "Now as a parent, I recognize that it is right around that age that you start to become independent as a soul in the world from your parents and realize that you’re not one thing and you start to worry. That’s around the age that my kids started saying 'Mom, will anything ever happen to you,' that starts to be a part of your developmental anxiety."
Losing her biological dad brought a change in her perspective as well. "So the fact that my father passed in that same kind of moment, it does inform you in ways that don’t reveal themselves until much later. But it definitely put me in the place of quiet," she said.
At a Stand Up To Cancer event in 2012, the Erin Brockovich actress opened up about losing her father to the disease and said, "I don't remember his illness, really, but I remember him so dearly and vividly," reported The Daily Mail. The fact that she was young when she lost him did not affect the grief suffered from not having him around when she was growing up into a woman. She also added how much she misses him when she is around her kids, stating: "That's where you feel the real ripoff. He's not here to be a grandparent."
Even though she had another father figure in her life after Walter left, he turned out to be the cause of all the troubles she endured as a young girl. According to The Daily Mail, the Smurf actress had an abusive childhood at the hands of her stepfather, Michael Motes. Even though Julia has never spoken about this phase of her life publicly, in the 2004 biography, Julia: Her Life, the author James Spada wrote that she "feared and despised" Motes as he “at least, alternately ignored, pushed around, and denigrated his two stepdaughters.”
She endured everything because she had her strong mum with her but that supportive hand was also taken away from her in 2015 after Betty succumbed to lung cancer. Talking to People after the death of her 80-year-old mother, Julia said that she thinks about her mother "all the time." "The kids talk about her a lot."
Revealing how she feels like her mother is sending her signs, the actress added, "It’s funny because her name was Betty and I feel like lately, she just crosses my mind, and I’ll turn and I see something that says ‘Betty,’ just unexpectedly. In Africa, I saw the name twice when I was thinking about her."