A German Teenager Asks Paul McCartney to Send All His Loving—and Lots of Money
updated 08/09/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 08/09/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT
This spring Bettina, now 19 and bearing a suggestive resemblance to McCartney, responded with a shocker of her own: She sued the former Beatle for a chunk of his estimated $440 million fortune. Reportedly, McCartney is considering a cash settlement of seven million deutsche marks—about $3 million.
Bettina was conceived in the same bohemian enclave that nurtured the Beatles' unique sound—Hamburg's seedy Reeperbahn district. In 1962 the four scruffy British rockers, fueled by amphetamines and beer, were producing a catchy new style of pop music in the now famous Star-Club. The band wasn't yet making much money, but it did attract its share of young admirers. Among them was 18-year-old Erika Wohlers, who began a brief affair with McCartney, then 19. On Dec. 18, 1962 Erika gave birth to Bettina, two months prematurely. About that time the single Love Me Do propelled the Beatles toward international superstardom. McCartney went on to a much-publicized romance with Jane Asher before marrying Linda Eastman in 1969. They have three children, and he has adopted Linda's daughter by a prior marriage. Erika never saw McCartney again. "It was a hard time for me," she says. "I felt like a social outcast with a child born out of wedlock."
Fifteen years ago McCartney agreed to pay 30,000 deutsche marks—then worth about $7,500—to support Bettina, reportedly without directly admitting paternity. But by 1980 Erika was divorced from German Army noncom Hans-Werner Huebers (whom Bettina once believed to be her father). Mother and daughter had moved to West Berlin and were leading lives as drab as Eleanor Rigby's. Erika worked at a food stand selling German sausages and French fries. Bettina found employment sticking fuses into Roman candles in a fireworks factory. When the news of her claim against McCartney was splashed across German front pages, she lost even that lowly occupation. "They told me that all the gossip about my case was disturbing the work routine," she says.
A lucrative settlement could wipe out that problem, of course, and now Bettina has decided to follow her father into show business. "I want to make a career as a singer under the name Bettina McCartney," she said recently. "I have enjoyed singing for many years, and I don't see that I am copying my father or trying to cash in on his name." Bettina has already won several talent contests and made a demonstration tape entitled He's Gone Out of My Life. Now she is working to get herself into shape for the stage by trimming 30 pounds off her zaftig 155-pound frame. "It will be worth it," she says cheerfully, "if only to prove to my father that I have spirit."