Charlize Theron
Her Abusive Father Was Shot To Death By Her Mother.

Charlize Theron is one of the highest paid actresses in the world and was named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Though her beauty and talent is overwhelming, her life wasn't always all glitz and glamour.
Charlize's childhood was a dark time and her family suffered a terrible tragedy when she was just 15 years old. The details of her early life truly make you wonder how someone could grow up to be so successful and glamorous.

Show Notes

Hi guys! I’m Didi West, and this is Broken Limelight!

Today I’m going to tell you a little story about Charlize Theron. You’re probably wondering why she’s on a true crime podcast.

Well, have I got a story for you. It turns out, Charlize Theron had a pretty messed up childhood.

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending.

So let me tell you about it. Let’s do it.

Charlize Theron is one of the highest paid actresses in the world. She’s acted in a lot of great films like Mighty Joe Young, Monster, Mad Max: Fury Road.

She is from South Africa and her first language was Afrikaans. Actually, there’s a lot of debate on how to pronounce her name. According to Charlize, in America she goes by Charlize Ther-on. But the way she pronounces it in Afrikaans is Theron.

-video clip here-

She learned to speak english from watching american television.

She grew up on her parents farm in Johannesburg. Her mother’s name was Gerda and her father’s name was Charles.

Charles was an abusive alcoholic. Charlize has admitted openly that she was very, very afraid of her father. He was a big, tall guy, and while she says he wasn’t physically abusive to her, he did physically abuse her mother, Gerda, and was very verbally abusive to both of them as well.

"My father was an alcoholic all my life. I only knew him one way, and that was as an alcoholic. ... It was a pretty hopeless situation. Our family was just kind of stuck in it."

Charlize had a tough time growing up. She suffered from jaundice and the medications messed up her baby teeth and she had to have them removed. So she had no teeth until she was about 10. As a result, she had a really hard time fitting in at school.

Charlize had anxiety around firearms. Apparently in South Africa, everyone has a gun. But an incident that occured when she was 15 really explains her fears.

On June 21, 1991, Charles went out drinking with his brother. A relative called to let Gerda and Charlize know that he was agitated.

Charlize had actually just gotten back from boarding school. She was asleep in her bed when Charles came home drunk as fuck and started shooting. He first shot at the locked gate, and then he and his brother came i the house and he shot through the kitchen door. He was angry and yelling, and again super drunk. Charlize woke up to this and she says that he was so drunk, he shouldn’t have been able to walk, much less march around shooting off a firearm.

Gerda ran into Charlize’s room and shut the door. He tried to push his way through so they both leaned against it, putting all their weight on it.

He started angrily beating on the door and shouting “Tonight I’m going to kill you both with the shotgun.”

Then, he shot through the door. Literally through the door that they're leaning against. He shot through it 3 times, and miraculously, none of them hit them.

Gerda was actually able to get her gun and shoot him back through the door. She managed to hit Charles, killing him, and also hit his brother, who survived his injuries.

Although Gerda killed Charles, she faced no charges as they saw this was a clear case of self defense.

For years, Charlize didn’t talk about it and if anyone asked about her father, she would say that he died in a car accident.

She started speaking about it openly years later and now says that she’s not ashamed of her past. She understands what happened and would have done the exact same thing her mom did. She also believes it’s important to speak out about the dangers of domestic abuse and addiction in the home so that other victims know they’re not alone.

"I'm not ashamed to talk about it, because I do think that the more we talk about these things, the more we realise we are not alone in any of it.

"I think, for me, it's just always been that this story really is about growing up with addicts and what that does to a person."

Ultimately, Charlize has moved on from this tragic event. While it was incredibly traumatic, Charlize says that her childhood was really her darkest memory. She describes her father as sometimes being sweet and fun loving as she was growing up, but he had an illness, and his addiction was hopeless.

"The day-to-day unpredictability of living with an addict is the thing that you sit with and have kind of embedded in your body for the rest of your life, more than just this one event of what happened one night," she said.

So that’s the tragic story of Charlize’s family. As you know, she went on to become a model and actress. She was discovered by talent agent John Crosby at a Hollywood Blvd bank, when she got into a fiery argument with the teller. He got her into acting school and got her foot in the door. But sadly, Charlize would experience the dark side of Hollywood early on.

When she was 19, she was invited to audition for a famous film director, at his house. She was just starting out, this was literally like her first or one of her first auditions.

She didn’t know the ins-and-outs of Hollywood yet so she thought it was weird when he asked her to come audition at 9pm on a Saturday night, but she let it go.

When she got to his house, he was wearing silk pajamas and offered her a drink. Then he started rubbing her knee. And she realized what was happening and hauled ass out of there.

She says that she’s named this director in the past in interviews and journalists choose to leave his name out.

As you know, Charlize did go on to become one of Hollywood’s most successful actresses. She credits Keanu Reeves for being a supportive friend and costar early on in her career and the two remain very close friends.

She’s gone on to adopt two young daughters. I was always important to her to adopt children from overcrowded orphanages.

In 2016, Time named Charlize one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Gerda continues to support Charlize in her life and her career. The two of them got matching Koi fish tattoos on their ankles. The colorful Japanese carp fish often represent determination and power, because they are able to swim upstream even when faced with obstacles like waterfalls.

So that’s the story about Charlize Theron and the true crimes surrounding her.

I hope you guys enjoyed today’s episode. I know a lot of people have never heard this story and I thought this would be a good time to do a mini episode, and also, something with a happy ending. I don’t know about you all, but I really needed a little palate cleanser after the long, tragic story of R. Kelly.

If you’d like to hear me cover a certain case about celebrity true crime, feel free to email me at or go to and fill out the Contact form.

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Alright people! Take care of yourselves. Until next time.


Photos & Videos

How to pronounce "Charlize Theron"