The word “diva” comes from the Latin for goddess, which has its root in the Sanskrit word for deity. But while Divas may share the same kind of power that many goddesses have over us, they take things too far by abusing their vaunted positions.
The term was first applied in the late 19th century to Italian opera singers of supreme talent, and soon became interchangeable with the term “prima donna.” In the mid-twentieth century, Maria Callas is often associated with the Diva behavior that has become all too common today among performers. But the truth is that Callas was not so much a Diva as a great talent who liked being indulged (but didn’t demand it that often), and wanted to protect her singing voice. Kathleen Battle is an opera star whose erratic attendance and threatening behavior at rehearsals got her dismissed from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. One of her demands was that crew members not look her in the eye.
Leona Helmsley was a diva who famously declared, “Only the little people pay taxes.” Naomi Campbell, the supermodel, got arrested for injuring an assistant by throwing a cell phone. Jennifer Lopez’s concert contracts stipulated all-white dressing rooms and highly specific food demands. But it’s Mariah Carey who seems to continue to hold the title of number one demanding super diva as she arrives late, travels with an entourage in a fleet of limousines, and is even said to bring her own confetti and toilet paper to various television tapings.
Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Celine Dion, Cher, Faye Dunaway, Whitney Houston
With their talent and tendency to dress to kill, Divas bring sparkle and fireworks to any situation.
They are often role models for the worst behavior, impossible to please and an unfortunate influence on younger generations who think being difficult makes them interesting.
Intense security, physical perfection, trophy spouses, international accolades, impeccably trained staff
- Bling by Erica Kennedy
- Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
- Whitney Houston: Return of the Diva by James Robert Parish
- Divas, Dames and Dolls: A Celebration of the Female Spirit by Kathleen Fitzgerald
- The Diva’s Mouth: Body, Voice, and Prima Donna Politics by Susan J. Leonardi
“I don’t mean to be a diva, but some days you wake up and you’re Barbra Streisand.” -Courtney Love