Back in 1991, Anthony Weiner seemingly had it all.
At age 27, he became the youngest member ever on New York City Council. Shortly afterwards, in 1998 and with his political star on the rise, Weiner was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Known as a workhorse, he was well respected in the House, and things looked promising. That is, until he decided to start sexting.
In 2011, Weiner sent a picture of his — uh — weiner to a woman on Twitter, and after days of denying he sent the image, he relented and resigned from Congress because of the fallout. This happened again in 2013, just as Weiner was ramping up his campaign to become New York City’s mayor. Needless to say, that plan was scrapped.
And just when you thought it was over for Weiner, things got even worse when, on Monday, he got caught sexting again. The results were much worse this time, and you know what they say: three strikes and you’re out. His wife of six years separated from him upon hearing the news, and both the New York Daily News (for which he wrote a column) and TV channel NY1 (to which he contributed to panels) dropped him.
While things turned very sour for Weiner in the political arena, it can happen to anyone, in any industry. The lesson here is that fame is fleeting, and in a split-second, one (or several) terrible decisions can make it evaporate right before your eyes.
Here are 11 other famous folks who ended up, one way or another, ruining a very good thing.
For a while there, Charlie Sheen was #winning, #winning, #winning. And then, suddenly, he wasn’t. His schtick, which made him cool in the first place, was this image of debauchery and philandering; when Sheen made an appearance in Toronto in 2011, Yonge-Dundas Square was packed.
“Winning” became “losing” as his insane lifestyle caught up with him; while attending rehab for the third time in a year, Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre halted production of Sheen’s hit show in 2011. After Sheen made very derogatory, very out-there, anti-Semitic comments about Lorre (“He tried to use his words to judge and attempt to degrade me… I fire back once and this contaminated little maggot can’t handle my power and can’t handle the truth. I wish him nothing but pain in his silly travels especially if they wind up in my octagon. Clearly I have defeated this earthworm with my words — imagine what I would have done with my fire breathing fists…”), he banned Sheen from the set and cancelled the final episodes of the season. CBS and Warner Bros terminated his contract immediately afterwards, and Sheen’s character was replaced by Ashton Kutcher.
In the wake of his firing, Sheen had a highly publicized meltdown, making bizarre statements in TV interviews, suggesting that he was a “warlock” with “tiger blood” and “Adonis DNA,” and, of course, “winning.” He posted videos to YouTube showing himself smoking cigarettes through his nose, and yelling about his former employers. He told Jeff Rossen of NBC News: “I’m tired of pretending I’m not special. I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars.”
Sheen has been married three times, all of the relationships ending badly, and most recently he came out as HIV-positive. We’ll ignore the ridiculous claims he’s made about being immune to full-blown AIDS, or how he’s learned to “cure” it by drinking goat’s milk.
When the Winter Olympics roll around, figure skating is a very big deal. Back in the early ’90s, it was a huge part of pop culture, and in the world of women’s competitive skating, Americans Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan were the biggest names.
In 1994, Kerrigan and Harding were the frontrunners for the two available positions on the U.S. Olympic figure-skating team. Kerrigan was previously a bronze medallist in the 1992 Olympics, while Harding was the first American female figure skater to land a triple axel in a major competition, which she did in 1991. Heading into the U.S. nationals, Harding was seen as an underdog to Kerrigan, who at this point was an Olympic veteran. Harding had a personal goal to win a gold medal, and was willing to do anything to do it, apparently, considering what followed.
During a practice skate in Detroit, a group of men directed by Harding’s husband at the time, Jeff Gillooly, attacked Kerrigan with a baseball bat after her training session, trying to maim her leg and oust her from the competition. Kerrigan only sustained a bruised knee. Gillooly, who had absconded to Oregon by the time of the attack, was arrested and interrogated, and insisted it was Harding’s idea the whole time.
Following the Olympics, Harding eventually admitted that she was a part of the scheme. She never went to jail, but was punished severely when the U.S. Figure Skating Association took her 1994 championship title from her and banned her for life from the sport. But hey, there’s a Tonya Harding movie coming out starring Margot Robbie, so that’s something, right?
Imagine being a world-champion race cyclist, winning the Tour de France for seven consecutive years, and then having it all fall away because you decided to take performance-enhancing drugs. That’s Lance Armstrong’s life.
The worst part about it all is Armstrong was a hero to many — especially after he fought testicular cancer and beat it in 1997 — until he was revealed as the “ringleader” of the doping scandal. The champion cyclist never denied the charges and never admitted the extent of his drug usage. As a result, he’s been banned for life from any competitive sports, and has been stripped of all his titles after 1998. It’s like those Tour de France races never even happened.
After the United States Anti-Doping Agency came out with their 2012 report on Armstrong, every single one of his sponsors dropped him. Some reports said he lost US$75 million in one day. His charity organization, Livestrong, dumped him and Nike cut all ties to it in 2013. Livewrong, amirite?
The path to Hollywood fame is never easy. We’d imagine it’s the real-life equivalent of a live-ammunition obstacle course: landmines everywhere. So why make it harder on yourself by being an unpleasant, narcissistic egomaniac? That’s allegedly what Katherine Heigl did behind-the-scenes as she shot to mega-fame as Izzie on Grey’s Anatomy.
People loved her, like really loved her. She got starring roles in movies like Knocked Up, and was even nominated for a Golden Globe for her work on Grey’s (she eventually won an Emmy for the role). Then something changed; there was a lot of will she-won’t she in terms of her leaving Grey’s, and many rumblings of still-unproven on-set fights with castmates and series creator Shonda Rhimes. The story goes that Heigl was starting to get some serious film cred, at least in comedy, and didn’t want to work on some TV medical drama anymore.
In March 2010, Heigl didn’t show up to set and Rhimes released her from her contract immediately. With that release came a rapid descent for Heigl, who received the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress in 2012 for the movie One for the Money. She never quite had the same appeal to audiences after that.
She was supposed to break back into TV in 2014 with political drama State of Affairs, but it was cancelled a year later. Heigl has since had a stint starring in Vicks’ ZZZQuil commercials. That’s really all there is to say about that.
Singer and dancer Chris Brown was on his way up the pop charts with his 2005 hit Run It! and he was dating the beautiful Rihanna when things went south in an ugly, ugly way.
After a February 2009 incident that left Rihanna bruised and battered on the side of the road, Brown was charged with felony assault and uttering threats, to which he eventually pleaded guilty.
His punishment was community labour, five years formal probation, and domestic violence counselling, which many women’s rights advocates saw as pathetic in light of the injuries Rihanna suffered. As a result, his music was pulled from many radio stations and he withdrew from public appearances like the 2009 Grammys.
Despite it all, Tiger Woods is still one of the best, if not the best, golfers who ever played the sport. His personal failures, while shocking, don’t really cloud the fact that he’s been the #1 player in the world for the most consecutive weeks and for the greatest total number of weeks of any golfer, ever.
He was raking in money on endorsement deals, winning countless tournaments, and he had a beautiful woman, Elin Nordegren, by his side. He and Nordegren were married in 2004 and they had two kids, and everything was looking up for Woods… until it was discovered in 2009 that he was cheating on Nordegren with nightclub manager Rachel Uchitel.
His hole-in-one life transformed into a shot in the water, or you might say his ball “hooked” way off-course.
The resulting media firestorm forced Woods to admit to multiple “transgressions,” and in the ensuing days more than a dozen women came forward with stories of a cheating Woods. He announced an indefinite break from professional golf, and he and Nordegren divorced in 2010.
Several companies cancelled their sponsorships of the fallen golfer, including Gatorade, AT&T and TAG Heuer. Since returning to golf shortly after, Woods has been plagued by injuries and is a shadow of his former champion self.
Ever since the young age of 19, Lindsay Lohan has been doing the exact wrong thing, even if she has/had the best intentions.
Where to begin? Lohan has been accused of showing up ridiculously late on set, and if you watched the OWN Lindsay docuseries, you’d know that 3 p.m. is an early time for Lohan to wake up and “get started” on the day — and this was in 2014. For many years, from 2007 onward, she lived in and out of various Los Angeles hotels, was involved in multiple car accidents (some DUIs, including for alcohol and cocaine), went to rehab at least five times, spent 84 minutes in jail (yes, minutes) and subsequently sacrificed the best years of her acting career trying to get her personal life in order. Lohan dropped multiple film and TV projects, many of them promising, claiming “fatigue” and “dehydration.”
It’s sad to think of what Lohan could have become. The cute freckle-faced teen who charmed us in The Parent Trap remake is long gone, replaced with a woman desperately trying to reclaim a career that simply doesn’t exist anymore.
Arguably, the biggest fall from grace in Hollywood may be A-list superstar Mel Gibson.
Since his career-making turn in Mad Max, Gibson’s star rose exponentially in Tinseltown, and he was cast in everything from romantic comedies (What Women Want) to buddy comedies (Lethal Weapon) to big-budget dramas (Braveheart).
All of that fell apart over the course of 2006, when Gibson was accused of being an alcoholic, a wife-beater, a misogynist and an anti-Semite. In July of that year, he was pulled over in California by a Jewish police officer, and he reportedly said “F**king Jews … the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?” In another incident, he allegedly called a female officer “sugar tits.”
In case that wasn’t enough, his wife left him after accusing him of beating her; the case she brought was subsequently dropped after Gibson pleaded guilty to misdemeanour battery. The couple lasted barely a year, divorcing shortly after. Since these multiple career catastrophes, Gibson has been relatively absent from film, save for a role in the alcoholism-focused 2011 Jodie Foster film, The Beaver. Up next: a sequel to The Passion of the Christ.
OK, so Randy Quaid wasn’t really A-list at any point, but he was a well-respected actor and a familiar face to audiences. From his hilarious National Lampoon‘s character, Cousin Eddie, to his more serious work in films like Brokeback Mountain, Quaid evoked a warm feeling when you saw him on screen.
Then came the beard, the Canadian exile, and the bizarre speeches about “star whackers” in Hollywood. After defrauding a California hotel (he and his wife allegedly left a balance of $10,000 in unpaid fees) and squatting in a guest house, the Quaids were arrested in Vancouver in 2010. The couple tried to seek protection under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, saying they feared for their lives in Hollywood, because, you know, the star whackers.
Canada eventually denied them permanent resident status and the pair was taken into custody by U.S. officials. For whatever reason, all charges were wiped — except the hotel charges, which are still ongoing — and the Quaids live a nondescript, bearded life in Vermont.
Everyone loved Kramer from TV comedy Seinfeld. Michael Richards’s goofy character, who stormed into rooms without looking and made hilarious observations without censoring himself, was an instant fan favourite. Too bad he forgot to censor himself when delivering a stand-up routine in 2006.
As Richards was performing, a heckler riled him, and the actor launched into an N-word diatribe as retaliation. The whole thing was captured on an audience member’s cellphone, and the video was all over the internet within hours.
The media and public response was brutal, and he announced his retirement from stand-up less than a year later. Since then, he’s barely appeared on TV, with an appearance on Curb Your Enthusiasm as himself and a bit role on Kirstie. Ouch.
It used to be that we would associate yummy, buttery things with celebrity chef Paula Deen. Known for her delicious (yet not necessarily healthy) recipes and 14 cookbooks, she was a staple on cooking shows before she put something in her mouth besides food: her foot.
In 2013, Deen was accused of using the N-word on multiple occasions and mocking African-Americans in front of a staffer whose nieces were half-black. It was also alleged that Deen was planning a “true Southern plantation-style theme” wedding for her brother complete with black male servers, but ended up nixing the plans because of anticipated media response (not because of, you know, the fact that it’s appalling).
The case ended up being dismissed, but the effects on Deen’s career were permanent and far-reaching. Companies like The Food Network, J.C. Penney, Sears, Kmart, Walmart and Target cancelled their deals with her immediately following the suit. Deen at least has a silver lining after this ugly storm: in March 2015, she unveiled the Paula Deen Channel in the U.S.
Hey, at least she’s in control now.