Being a celebrity can be pretty difficult sometimes. After all, the life of a famous person is always on display for everyone to see. That means every mistake, relationship, wardrobe malfunction and morning coffee run has the potential to make the pages of an entertainment magazine at any given moment. Celebrities often have private lives that they’d rather not expose to their fans, and when the media gets a hold of a celebrity secret, things can get pretty vicious.
In exchange for the millions of dollars, fancy homes, state-of-the-art cars and designer clothing (okay, we’re being a little sarcastic here), famous people often have to deal with lots of negative scrutiny from the general public. Over the years, a number of celebrity scandals have made the headlines, and it has taken a while for the public to forget about a celebrity’s wrongdoings, which can be terrible for a famous person’s career.
Shockingly, some celebs have been able to recover from their scandals and enjoy fulfilling careers in Hollywood. It hasn’t been easy, and it has likely taken an expert PR team, but some celebrities have made it happen. Here are 12 stars who bounced back from crazy scandals.
12. Paula Deen
After Paula Deen was caught on tape making some disparaging and racist remarks, she fell out of the good graces of many of her fans. She was one of the queens of the Food Network, but when the network found out about the scandal, they quickly removed all her shows from their program line-up. After saying hurtful things about black people, she and her son dressed up like Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, and her son decided that painting his face with light brown paint was a good idea. Clearly, the Deen family needs more lessons in cultural sensitivity. Paula Deen was featured on the most recent season of Dancing With the Stars, which is a sign that she’s getting back into the good graces of the public. It also shows that she’s got a pretty smart public relations team.
11. Mel Gibson
Actor and director Mel Gibson hasn’t starred in a major movie since 2006 when he got arrested for a DUI and said some pretty inflammatory things about Jewish people while under the influence. Gibson also verbally abused his ex-wife and was recorded saying some pretty hateful things to her. He was hated in Hollywood for quite some time, but since people haven’t been talking about him too much lately, it’s safe to assume he’s somewhat un-blacklisted. At the 2013 Golden Globes, Mel Gibson appeared in public, sitting at his friend Jodie Foster’s table, which is pretty much a sign that Hollywood is willing to give him another chance.
10. Vanessa Williams
In 1984, Vanessa Williams won the coveted title of Miss America. However, her crown was taken away when it was revealed that Williams posed for nude photos. These days, that seems like a pretty mild scandal, but in the 1980s, it was pretty major. A few years after the photos were leaked, Williams struggled to be seen in a positive light. She starred in a major movie in the late 1990s (Soul Food) and later got parts on popular television shows like Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives. Vanessa Williams recently returned to the Miss America pageant and graced the stage once again, officially putting the scandal behind her.
9. Hugh Grant
Hugh Grant is known for playing the difficult yet lovable character in romantic comedies, who eventually learns to be vulnerable and walk off into the sunset with his leading woman. However, in real life, Grant wasn’t always so innocent. In 1995, he got caught with a prostitute (Divine Brown), and his mugshot was all over the news and in the tabloids. Grant was also in a relationship with actress Elizabeth Hurley at the time, which means that not only was he picking up hookers, he was also being unfaithful. The scandal definitely followed him for a while, but after years of good behavior (publicly, anyway), it seems the public has forgiven him, and he’s once again viewed as a respectable actor.
8. David Letterman
David Letterman used his late-night talk show platform and comedic charm to diffuse his own scandal. During a monologue in October of 2009, he admitted that he’d had affairs with several of the women that he worked with. Letterman also stated that he’d been an extortion attempt victim, and the individual who was trying to extort him later pleaded guilty to grand larceny. Letterman had a contract with CBS until 2014, which meant that he’d surpass previous record holder Johnny Carson’s record for hosting a late night show (Carson’s record was 30 years). In David Letterman’s case, the best way to handle his scandal was to talk about it before anyone else could.
7. Robert Downey, Jr.
Back in 1996, Robery Downey, Jr. was so strung out on drugs and alcohol that he stumbled into the home of one his neighbors and crashed on the guest bed. Luckily for him, the media wasn’t quite as nosy back then. It was later revealed that Downey was struggling with addiction, and his ex-girlfriend, Sarah Jessica Parker, stated that she started to become afraid for her safety when she was with him. The two stars went on to marry other people, and are even friends. After stories of rehab and several arrests, Robert Downey, Jr. made a big comeback as Iron Man in the Avengers movies, and has really been cleaning up his public image by visiting children’s hospitals.
6. Reese Witherspoon
Actress Reese Witherspoon is known for her squeaky clean image. When her former husband Ryan Philippe was unfaithful to her, the scandal made some waves in Hollywood, but everyone pretty much felt sorry for Witherspoon. However, in 2013, when she and her current husband Jim Toth were arrested on DUI related charges in Atlanta, Witherspoon tried to play the Hollywood card by asking the officer: “do you know who I am?” We’re guessing it was the alcohol talking. During a Good Morning America interview, Reese apologized for her actions, and the public seemed to accept. In 2014 she produced Gone Girl and got an Oscar nomination for starring in the movie Wild.
5. Britney Spears
In 2008, Britney Spears had a pretty serious meltdown, during which she shaved her head. She was even placed in the hospital and put on a psychiatric hold. Her family and legal team helped Spears turn her career around, and her comeback has been one of the most successful in all of Hollywood. Near the end of 2008, her single “Womanizer” was burning up the charts, and she became a coach on the Fox show The X-Factor. Britney Spears is now headlining her own show in Vegas, and is focused on spending time with her two sons.
4. Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore already had enough scandal under her belt at the age of 15 to publish a memoir. Barrymore rose to fame as a child actor when she starred in E.T., but went on to struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. She even had two stints in rehab as a teen and had even attempted suicide when she was 14. Today, Drew Barrymore’s company Flower Films is one of the most successful in the business, and Barrymore is known for her upbeat and bubbly personality. She even won a Golden Globe in 2009 for her role in the movie, Grey Gardens.
3. Martha Stewart
Remember that time Martha Stewart went to prison? Not jail. Not an overnight stay in the slammer, but prison. Stewart was convicted on insider trading scheme charges, and was fired as the CEO of her own company. These days, it’s not as easy to find Martha Stewart on television (although she does have some shows on public television), but she’s still the queen of all things domestic. Stewart has even been making it a point to be seen with people from “other walks of life” (we’re looking at you, Steve Harvey) in order to repair her image and get her fans to believe that she’s not pretentious.
2. Chris Brown
Chris Brown won his first Grammy three years after he was charged with domestic violence (we’re sure you remember the situation with Rihanna). For years, Brown was not looked upon favorably by the public, and a number of celebrities spoke out against his actions as well. After it seemed like the whole Rihanna scandal had died down, the two were seen together again, and it was later confirmed that they had rekindled their relationship. Then, Chris met model Karreuche Tran and had a love triangle thing happening. Then, Brown cheated on Tran with another woman and had a child. Yeah, we know, it’s a lot to take in. These days, however, Chris Brown is taking fatherhood seriously and has seemingly calmed down considerably. He has stated that he wants to turn his life around, and this time, he just might be serious.
1. Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian is the reigning queen of coming back from a scandal. When her sex tape with singer Ray J was leaked (some think the “leak” was intentional), it seemed as though Kim’s life was going to be disastrous from that point on. However, her mom stepped in, made her marketable, and now Kim and the rest of the Kardashians have made fame their business. Kim is worth millions, and has endorsed a number of products, from shoes to fragrances to diet pills. Sure, people still bring up the sex tape from time to time, but for the most part, the public has forgiven that indiscretion, because they’re too busy literally keeping up with the Kardashians to see what type of scandal the family will get into next.