David Spade Reveals He Stopped Talking to His Absentee Father After Becoming a Dad Himself
David Spade welcomed daughter Harper with former Playboy Playmate Jillian Grace in 2008
Becoming a parent changed David Spade‘s life — and his own family dynamics.
In his newly released audiobook, A Polaroid Guy in a Snapchat World, available on Audible, the actor and comedian opens up about how his relationship with his father Wayne, who goes by the nickname Sam, changed after he welcomed his own child, daughter Harper, with former Playboy Playmate Jillian Grace in 2008.
“This one’s going to be a little tricky — this is a chapter about my dad, and the way that it fits into this audiobook is I’m a dad now,” he says. “And the difference — and why it caused some complications with my own dad — is because he was sort of a ne’er-do-well, which is putting it mildly. I think f—up is more on the nose.”
Spade, 54, describes his father as “cool and funny,” but also “a bit of a skirt-chaser, times a thousand million,” and “a bit of boozy Suzy.” When he was 4 and his brothers Bryan and Andy Spade were 8 and 6, respectively, Spade says his father suddenly vanished from their family home in Michigan.
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David and Sam Spade
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Growing up, Spade says he saw his father about two or three times a year.
“We’d be sitting at the doors with our bags because he would call us and say he wanted to see us,” says the actor. “What I didn’t realize back then was that it was a control thing. We never had his phone number. He would call us when he felt like it.”
Nevertheless, the actor says the duo maintained a relationship and even moved in together in Arizona at one point. But years later, when Spade became a father himself, everything changed.
“I have a daughter now, and she came out of a situation with a girl I was dating and it was not planned,” Spade says. “And I get angry, because my brothers and I were planned. Now, I’m so happy that I have a daughter and she’s the best thing in my life, but I couldn’t picture my daughter being sick and calling me and me not answering.”
David Spade and daughter Harper in June
David Spade, Jillian Grace and daughter Harper in 2011
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“Or just calling her without any way for her to call me,” he explains. “That would be too much, it would be too rough. So when I had her, I got this new tidal wave of resentment towards my dad because of his irresponsible behavior and manipulative mean streak. So I stopped talking to him.”
“I know it sounds crazy, but I just thought, ‘Holy s—. You really played your cards the way you did when we were kids,’ ” Spade continues. “I mean, I like to have fun too, but it can’t be 24/7 and literally nothing else. The only thing my dad really did was give me an excuse to be nuts. I can always cry and go, ‘It’s my dad’s fault. He left me when I was 4! Now I’m crazy.’ ”
Though he has not divulged any recent details of his co-parenting relationship with Grace, Spade posts photos and videos of Harper on Instagram and sometimes shares sweet anecdotes about her while appearing on talk shows. In 2015, he joked about navigating the ropes of parenthood while appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“I’m new at this — how long ’til I can school her in tic-tac-toe?” he said. “Because I am really good at it, but I’m faking it so she can win. But now I’m getting frustrated because she thinks I’m dumb. She laughs so hard when she wins and then I think, ‘Well, I could beat you.’ I want to say that, but I don’t.”
“I think when she turns 6, I’m really going to turn it on,” Spade quipped. “I’ll start really winning a lot. I’m going to sweep every category.”