Keeping up with celebrity scandals nowadays is as easy as opening a social media app. The moment someone slips up, you’ll find their name at the top of a trending list, and it’ll be all people talk about for a day or two.
With the daily overload of information, it’s almost impossible to remember all the madness and tabloid fodder. Here are some of Hollywood’s wildest scandals that might’ve slipped your mind.
Sandra Bullock experienced the most insane whiplash in 2010 when her husband at the time, Jesse James, was exposed as a cheater immediately after she won an Oscar for her performance in The Blind Side. They’d also just adopted a baby boy named Louis. Several women claimed to have affairs with James while he was married to Bullock, and his subsequent Nazi photo scandal didn’t do him any favors.
Vanessa Williams’ career hit a painful low in 1984 when Penthouse published nude photos of her without her consent. The photographer had promised the beauty queen they would merely be silhouette shots. The images caused an uproar, and 21-year-old Williams had to relinquish her post as Miss America.
Kristen Stewart cheating on Robert Pattinson with director Rupert Sanders, who was married at the time, crushed the hearts of countless teenagers around the globe. After all, this drama unraveled during the tail end of the Twilight film craze. Since then, both Stewart and Pattinson have excelled in their careers, the scandal is but a blip on the general public’s radar.
TLC’s Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Andre Rison had a wild relationship, to say the least. A notable instance of abuse in a grocery store parking lot got so heated that Rison flashed a gun. Yet, the pair stayed together. Their toxicity peaked in June of 1994 when Lopes burned down the football player’s $1.3 million home. She also took a vacuum cleaner pipe to the windshields of his truck and two cars. Lopes turned herself in for the crime the following day.
Hugh Grant and a sex worker named Divine Brown were arrested in Los Angeles in 1995 for “lewd conduct.” To make matters worse, Grant was in a relationship with fellow actor Elizabeth Hurley at the time. Despite his very un-charming slip-up, he remained the ideal, romantic leading man for his audience.
She was 26. He was 89. Anna Nicole Smith’s marriage to oil baron J. Howard Marshall II was the perfect tabloid fuel. The pair married in 1994, with the groom speaking from a wheelchair and reassuring their audience that his love for the model was real. He died a year later.
In 2014, two of the five One Direction boys raised eyebrows when a video of them smoking marijuana in Peru was posted online. Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson were seen smoking a joint in a vehicle — a risky move for a boy band with a relatively “clean” image.
Louis and Zayn weren’t the first boy band members to face a weed scandal. In 1980, Paul McCartney was arrested in Japan for traveling with half a pound of marijuana. The music icon faced a smuggling charge and a potential seven-year prison sentence, but instead, he was released and deported from the country.
Arnold Schwarzenegger had an affair in 1996 that wouldn’t remain a secret forever. After cheating on Maria Shriver with their former housekeeper, Mildred Patricia Baena, the latter became pregnant and birthed a boy named Joseph. The worst part? The boy was conceived while Shriver was pregnant with her own son, and the two were born days apart.
Elvis Costello’s career nearly ended in an Ohio bar in 1979. During a drunken outburst, he referred to Ray Charles as a “blind, ignorant [n-word],” immediately making a similar statement about James Brown. He also took shots at American Black music and America as a whole.
Roman Polanski’s attraction to underage girls was known in the film industry. In 1977, his greatest scandal unfolded when he was arrested and charged with six offenses against a 13-year-old girl. After hearing that the judge planned to reject his plea deal (he pled guilty to the “lesser” charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor), he fled to France. Yet, many people seem to have forgotten about his perversion or simply don’t care. At the 2020 César Awards (aka “the French Oscars”), Polanski won Best Director for his film An Officer and a Spy.
Hollywood sex tape scandals were all the rage at one point, but many people forget that Rob Lowe pioneered them. The actor filmed himself having sex with two women (one was merely 16 years old) in Atlanta. He didn’t face criminal charges as the age of consent in Georgia is 16. Lowe claims he didn’t know the younger woman was a teenager.
Russell Crowe is known for having an unpredictable temper, but his most notable scandal involved a hotel employee and a telephone. In 2005, an angry Crowe hurled a phone at an NYC hotel clerk when his call wouldn’t connect to his wife in Australia. He was swiftly handcuffed by the NYPD and taken to a nearby station house.
Musical duo Milli Vanilli experienced a fall as drastic as their rise when they were caught lip-synching during a live MTV performance. Of course, this alone wasn’t what ruined them; countless pop acts have been — and continue to be — successful while lip-synching. Granted, it was a bigger offense at the time. The true bombshell was that their hits were sung by other vocalists altogether.
Just before the iconic Dirty Dancing film hit theaters in 1987, star Jennifer Grey and her then-boyfriend Matthew Broderick were involved in a fatal car crash in Ireland. Broderick was behind the wheel at the time, and the crash killed two women — mother and daughter. He was later convicted of careless driving.
He’s no stranger to controversy, but the leaked 2007 voicemail where Alec Baldwin called his 11-year-old daughter, Ireland, a “rude, thoughtless little pig” was egregious, even for him. The pair has since put the incident behind them and maintain an amicable father-daughter relationship.
Jon & Kate Plus 8 was a cultural phenomenon in the late 2000s. The reality show about Jon and Kate Gosselin and their eight kids boasted shockingly high viewership on TLC. Naturally, the couple’s messy divorce was a huge deal for the media, and the ensuing custody battle over their children was even more intense.
Phil Spector was an innovative producer and entrepreneur who worked with big names (like The Beatles, Ike & Tina Turner, and Ramones) and changed music with his “Wall of Sound” method. Imagine the chaos when he was convicted of murdering aspiring actress Lana Clarkson in 2003. Police found her body in Spector’s home — a gunshot wound to the head — mere hours after the two met.
Remember when Sinead O’Connor ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II while performing on Saturday Night Live in 1992? The brazen commentary on child abuse within the Roman Catholic Church drew immediate backlash, ruining her career, and the musician was quickly banned from SNL.
What are some famous Hollywood controversies that you feel the public forgot about? Let me know in the comment section below!