Being a celebrity has got to be tough. Think about it; no privacy, constant battles with the paparazzi, and a never-ending critique session from peers, the public, the media, and even complete strangers. It is a demanding yet rewarding job and it is no wonder that some stars break under the pressure. For a large number of the rich and famous, alcohol is their escape.
Some celebs have been able to get a hold on their addiction and find a way out of it. Just look at Jamie Lee Curtis, Eminem, and even Daniel Radcliffe. All of them have come out on the other side of alcohol abuse and made a positive name for themselves. Others, however, have not been so fortunate. This is our list of 10 fantastic celebrities ruined by alcoholism.
These are singers and actors, athletes and musicians with so much talent. They looked to a drink as a means of escape; a break from the constant day-to-day whirlwind of life in the spotlight. They were among the elite class of people who had a gift for their craft and they had loads of eyes watching their every move. These ten celebs left us in a way that we would never want to see anyone experience. While the world has lost many greats to alcoholism, it is indeed an addiction and it continues to claim the lives of people to this day.
10. Richard Burton
Richard Burton dominated the stage and the big screen (and had a high-profile relationship with the gorgeous Elizabeth Taylor.) Yet Burton had his demons as well. Naturally when a person is rubbing elbows with other celebrities, they are bound to come across alcohol. Especially in Burton’s day, drinking was seen as cool and sexy. Therefore it made sense for him to get in on the action. Another thing to remember is that Burton grew up in a mining family, where drinking was social and normal. As Burton consumed more and more, the effects became apparent and alcohol, which was his security blanket, became him downfall.
9. Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart made a name for himself in such films as High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon. Most of us know him from the critically-acclaimed (after all these years) film, Casablanca. He even became a producer, but maybe all of the stress involved took its toll on him. Bogart succumbed to drinking heavily and smoked quite frequently. The booze and cigs got the best of him and sent his health on a downward spiral. Bogart tried to laugh it off and grin through the pain, but by the last years of his life he finally had doctors do something about it. They did, but a coma overcame Bogart and he passed away.
8. Robin Williams
Robin Williams‘ death is still fresh in our minds. He only passed away in summer of 2014, and his passing was a shock to the public who fondly remembered him as one of the greatest comedians of our time. Despite his hilarious roles in comedies (and some stellar performances in more subdued roles), Williams was cherished for his wit and off-the-wall onstage and onscreen antics. Yet, in the years leading up to his death, Williams seemed to get more and more solemn and his demeanor quickly darkened when the cameras went off. The actor struggled with alcohol and depression and took his own life on August 11, 2014.
7. Oliver Reed
If there was ever a public figure that was open about his love for drinking, it was Oliver Reed. Once the actor was gone and buried, visitors flocked to his grave site to pour ceremonial alcohol over it in remembrance of the beloved actor. Yet, Reed had a darker more violent side; he was a fighting alcoholic and often found himself battling others and himself as he switched between competent actor and sloppy drunk. This is how Reed liked it; living life on the edge and taking risks. You can rest when you’re dead, right? Well, Reed eventually surrendered to the drink on May 2, 1999.
6. John Bonham
A musician in the iconic rock band Led Zeppelin, John Bonham was definitely living a rocker’s lifestyle. On the night he passed away, he had enough alcohol in his system to equal 40 shots of vodka. In fact, it is said that he had 16 shots for his breakfast of champions. The drummer died from alcoholism and choking on his vomit as he was passed out from a heavy drinking session. The esteemed drumming pro was highly regarded and admired for his work with the band, and unfortunately added his name to the list of rock and rollers who succumbed to the perils of drinking.
5. Hank Williams
For us country music lovers, Hank Williams was a stand-out name. He was a good ol’ American singer-songwriter and battled a debilitating spinal cord disease. The details surrounding his death caused an uproar of controversy back in 1953. The autopsy report stated that Williams had died of a heart attack, while others say it was a combination of alcoholism and drugs that led to the heart attack itself. We do know that Williams was in a lot of pain from his disease and he often tried to escape that pain through drinking. Combined with the pain killers he was on for his back, it became a deadly mixture.
4. Mickey Mantle
We all know the greats of baseball: Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, and then there was Mickey Mantle. He was an athletic star, but he became overcome with an addiction to alcohol. Back in 1944, Mantle was featured in Sports Illustrated and gave a description of his morning drink, which included a couple of shots of brandy. It is even said that Mantle had played baseball games while heavily intoxicated, although we wonder how he would have managed to run around the bases, or even hit the ball at all! Yet we can’t put it past him; Mantle was a pretty public alcoholic who later died from the effects.
3. Veronica Lake
One of two females on this list, Veronica Lake was a glamazon if there ever was one. This petite woman was addicted to drink and eventually that led to her downfall. We suspect that such a tiny lady would never be able to hold much, yet Lake was a heavy drinker and she also suffered from some mental disorders. Despite a rocky childhood, Lake rose to the top with a film career and a public image that defined what a blonde bombshell was. Yet, after a failed pregnancy, not-so-stellar film reviews, and a divorce, Lake took up a relationship with alcohol and it led to her death.
2. Jack Kerouac
Most great authors are hiding some personal story of their struggles with identity and fulfillment. So it was with Jack Kerouac, a man who grew up and found himself as a young adult who was broke and missing something. When he skyrocketed to fame with his writing chops, he found himself very much in the public eye, which would be frightening and overwhelming for anyone. For the introverted Kerouac, it meant that he sought solace in alcoholism. In true writer fashion, he lived a reclusive lifestyle, but unfortunately died from his heavy drinking in 1969. Still, he is still regarded as a great source of beatnik inspiration.
1. Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday was gorgeous, talented, and troubled. When she shot to fame with her smooth vocals and charm, she began immersing herself in the rich and famous scene. There she discovered drugs and alcohol, starting with heroin. When her mother passed away, these substances became even more appealing, and her drug and alcohol use turned into abuse. Her career did not seem to suffer much, but when people started noticing, they urged her to get help. Holiday entered rehab but later relapsed. She was never able to fully recover and died in 1959 due to complications from drugs and alcohol.