Underneath all the makeup and the spotlight of fame, celebrities are humans just like everyone else. And just like every human being on Earth, celebrities have their moments of weakness as well and can get up to some truly horrible stuff. And I’m not talking about illegal use of drugs, or drunken escapades. I’m talking about horrendous acts and comments that’ll get you to raise your eyebrows.
Thanks to the power of money, fame, and some of the best public relations teams in the world, the public will eventually forgive and forget every mishap and scandal involving a celebrity. Case in point: Chris Brown’s physical assault on his then girlfriend Rihanna. Where are the haters now? It’s a bit disturbing how millions can witness celebrities getting into serious trouble, only for them to weasel their way out of any problem like nothing had ever happened.
Now’s the time to remember all the bad stuff. From racist rants to raping women, and from kidnappings to underage sex, these horrendous acts will leave a sour taste in your mouth. These 10 famous celebrities did some pretty terrible things in their life that the public have conveniently forgot about.
10. Johnny Cash – Natural “Bird” Killer
When you talk to a casual music fan about Johnny Cash, the answers usually revolve around him being a country star; that biopic featuring Joaquin Phoenix; and his most famous hit song, “Ring of Fire.” Casual fans probably wouldn’t have heard about the time Cash dabbled with a literal ring of fire and threatened an entire bird species.
In the 60s, Cash was driving a truck around Los Padres National Forest in California when an overheating wheel bearing caused the truck to catch fire. Rather than get help or put the fire out, Cash just let it burn. The fire damaged hundreds of acres of forest and killed 49 of the 53 endangered California Condors left in the park. Using the defense of “I didn’t do it, the truck did it,” Cash’s lawyers somehow got him off the hook with a slap on the wrist and a fine of just $82,000.
Cash further antagonised animal activists and birds of every species when his response to the whole Condor debacle was an unapologetic “I don’t give a damn about your yellow buzzards.”
9. Mark Wahlberg – Hate Crimes
Younger audiences may know Mark Wahlberg from that terrible Transformers movie that came out last year. Older audiences would probably know Wahlberg during his ‘gangster’ phase when he was busting out rhymes and modelling for Calvin Klein. But before his Marky Mark days, Wahlberg was a troubled kid with an incredibly racist attitude.
Wahlberg was involved in numerous racially-motivated hate crimes in which he assaulted numerous people of Asian and African descent. When Wahlberg was sixteen, he viciously assaulted a Vietnamese man named Trinh Lam and was charged with attempted murder. After spending time in jail, Wahlberg thought cleaning up his life was probably a better idea than beating up more Asian people.
Wahlberg’s victims have had mixed feelings about his new and reformed persona. Whilst some think he shouldn’t be pardoned for his crimes, Trinh proved to be a class above everyone else when he said that everyone deserves a second chance, even Wahlberg.
8. Jay-Z – He Allegedly Stabbed A Guy
Before Jay-Z crafted a reputation for being something akin to music royalty and for being that guy who punched well above his weight when he married Beyoncé, he was just another talented rapper who got into trouble with the law.
When Jay-Z was tasting fame for the first time and on the verge of hitting it big, he nearly threw it all away when his third album was leaked. Suspecting that his album was leaked by a record executive, Jay-Z confronted the executive at a nightclub and allegedly stabbed the guy in the ensuing scuffle.
Turning himself in the next day, Jay-Z’s lawyers managed to knock the sentence down to a third-degree assault charge, three years’ probation, and a hefty settlement fee with the stabbed executive.
7. Rick James – The Delusional Kidnapper
A musician getting addicted to drugs is almost like a rite of passage: everyone does it and it’s no big deal. Rick James took this drug addiction thing and pushed it to a horrifying new level.
Known for being crazily addicted to cocaine during the 90s, a massively-high James and his future wife thought some poor girl stole some cocaine off them. Rather than be civil like a regular person, James and his future wife thought the best course of action was to hold her hostage for days, physically and sexually assaulting her, before finishing up by branding the poor girl with the end of a crack pipe. When he was out on bail for that kidnapping incident, James got into some more cocaine and into some more trouble by kidnapping and beating up a music executive over a twenty hour period.
When he became the subject of Dave Chappelle‘s famous catchphrase, “I’m Rick James, bitch!” James was suddenly back in the public’s favour again before his drug-ravaged body gave up in 2004.
6. Elvis Costello – The Racist
You may remember Elvis Costello for his critically acclaimed albums or for being that musician in Austin Powers who sang and played the piano. What you may not remember was the time he threw racial slurs towards Ray Charles and James Brown.
Costello was huge in Britain during the late 70s and was starting to get a foothold in America before he realised that Americans didn’t warm to casual racism as they once did. During a night out, a totally wasted Costello thought it was a good idea to call Ray Charles a “blind, ignorant ni**er” and James Brown a “jive-ass ni**er”.
Luckily for an incredibly apologetic (and hungover) Costello, Charles was incredibly cool about everything and forgave him by stating “drunken talk isn’t meant to be printed in the paper.”
5. Sean Connery – The Mysogynist
Sean Connery‘s classic take on James Bond was both incredibly bad-ass and incredibly misogynistic. Connery wasn’t quite as bad-ass as Bond in real life, but he was certainly far more misogynistic and sexist than Bond ever was.
In an interview with Playboy in 1965, Connery openly declared himself to be in favour of slapping women whenever men don’t get their way. Okay, it was the 60s, sexism was rampant, and views towards women have changed considerably since then.
Not for Connery though.
During an interview with Barbara Walters a few decades later, Connery was pressed about his earlier comments about being a woman-beater and whether he has changed his mind since then. His response? A resounding and face-slapping no.
4. Chuck Berry – Peeping Tom
Chuck Berry is one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived and a music pioneer who brought rock and roll to the masses in the 50s and 60s. By the time the 90s rolled around, Berry’s reputation had fallen from guitar god to creepy old man who spies on women in the bathroom.
After decades of playing the guitar, Berry decided to settled down a bit and buy a few restaurants. For some inexplicable reason, Berry then decided to install cameras into the women’s bathrooms under the pretense of trying to catch a thieving worker. Needless to say, many women weren’t too happy and Berry got slapped with a class action suit from 59 women.
He may have turned into a perverted and seedy old man, but Berry was still rolling in his rockstar millions and he eventually paid $1.2 million to settle the class action suit.
3. Dr. Dre – Attacked A Journalist
Before his name became synonymous with poor quality headphones that are incredibly overpriced, Dr. Dre was part of the influential hip hop group, N.W.A. Despite his skills as a rapper and producer, Dre’s tenure with the group was overshadowed by the time he attacked a woman.
During a feud between Ice Cube and the other members of N.W.A in 1991, Dre was not happy at how the group was portrayed when Ice Cube was interviewed by journalist, Dee Barnes. Seeking retaliation, Dre sought Barnes out and proceeded to beat the hell out of her. Barnes filed a $22.75 million lawsuit against Dre but he managed to weasel his way out with just an out of court settlement, a $2,500 fine, two years’ probation, and community service.
When the N.W.A biopic, Straight Outta Compton, came out this year, Dre addressed uncomfortable questions over his past with an emphatic “I f**ked up” that may or may not be entirely sincere.
2. Mike Tyson – The Rapist
Most people remember Mike Tyson as either the terrifying boxer who bit off that guy’s ear, or as that guy with the squeaky voice who made a cameo in The Hangover. With his newly reformed reputation, people forget that Tyson was convicted of rape many years ago.
During his initial rise to fame in the early 90s, Tyson was found guilty of raping an 18-year-old girl after a party. Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison and four years of probation. After only serving three years, Tyson was released and he made a successful comeback to boxing.
Karma hit Tyson years later when he was forced to declare bankruptcy amidst a whirlwind of scandals involving drugs and legal problems. Since then, Tyson has become far more well-known for being a walking punchline than a fearsome boxer.
1. Jimmy Page – Underage Fetish
Jimmy Page was part of some rock band called Led Zeppelin and he is the reason why people learn to play guitar in the first place. But just as how Led Zeppelin became synonymous with rock music, the band also garnered notoriety for their rock star shenanigans. Whilst every member of the band got up to some pretty unsavoury things, Page somehow managed to outshine his band-mates in the debauchery department.
During the peak of his fame in 1972, Page met 14-year-old Lori Maddox at a nightclub and took an immediate liking to her. Not caring about the fact that she was only 14, Page had a roadie forcibly bring Lori back to his place, where they proceeded to have creepy illegal underage sex. Because even rock stars aren’t exempt from statutory rape, Page kept Lori locked up at his place for over three years in order to ensure that no one would find out about his fetish for underage girls.
The creepiest part of this story is that Lori was locked up willingly. Clearly she has never heard about Stockholm Syndrome.