Life in the public eye can be taxing; being forced to spend every moment in the glare of media spotlight is, celebrities constantly remind us, not easy. Of course, the rewards of life as a public figure can be astronomical. Huge paydays for mere hours of work, lucrative advertising deals and multimillion dollar photoshoots are all part and parcel of having a famous face.
But when that same famous face falls out of the public’s good graces, that’s a very long way to fall. Slipping from the A-list to the B-list is often a gradual, painful decline resulting from age, lack of staying power or just a shift in popular culture – Paris Hilton is an example of one such celebrity, who slid down the rungs of stardom with very little fanfare, until she simply stopped being relevant.
But occasionally, the fall is much more dramatic. A star riding high at the top of his or her game does, once in a while, make such an enormous mistake or inadvertently reveal such damning secrets that they’re shunned from the inner circle of Celebrity, and will have a hard time ever returning. With so much to lose, the consequences are usually pretty grim – and these ten celebrities are spectacular examples of exactly how grim.
10. Lostprophets’ Ian Watkins
At the height of their fame, Lostprophets were all over MTV and their music received heavy airplay on radio in the U.K. and abroad, even being compared favourably to seminal rockers Rage Against The Machine.
The Welsh rockers seemed poised to go global with their brand of hard rock, before allegations against lead singer Ian Watkins surfaced. The horrifying details make for sickening reading, and include sexual assault of an infant.
When the allegations became public, Lostprophets disbanded and Watkins was eventually charged and convicted of a long list of sexual offences. He has gone from rockstar to convict, stage to cell, and is now serving a 35 year sentence for his crimes.
9. Michael Richards
As Kramer in the hugely popular Seinfeld, Michael Richards was one of the most recognizable T.V. stars of his generation. The finale of the show that made him a household name aired to over 76 million people in the U.S.
After Seinfeld ended and his foray into solo T.V. proved unsuccessful, Richards took to touring the country as a stand-up comedian, his original passion. This was to bring him to national prominence once again – but for all the wrong reasons. A wildly racist rant from this comedian was captured on camera by an audience member at his stand-up show, and the video went viral.
The resulting furore seems to have killed what remained of Richards’ career and he hasn’t toured since, while his appearances are limited to a handful of T.V. cameos.
8. Jerry Lee Lewis
One of rock and roll’s originals, Jerry Lee Lewis was around at the birth of one of the most popular musical movements in history.
Lewis enjoyed a string of hits and toured with Elvis and other stars of Sun records, garnering a reputation for being a wild man as well as an exhilarating live performer. His star was in the ascendancy until he announced to the world his intention to marry Myra Gale Brown.
A young man getting married was no cause for scandal, until it was revealed that Myra was his cousin, and she was only 13 years old. When the news broke the public reacted with disgust and Lewis’ career took a battering along with his public image, leading to boycotts and concert cancellations. Although Lewis managed to continue making a living in the music industry, his career never returned to the heights it had known.
7. Glenn Hoddle
Glenn Hoddle enjoyed a glittering football career spanning 20 years, both in England and abroad, representing his country in two FIFA World Cups. Hoddle proved himself an adept manager when his playing days ended. But after he was offered the job of managing the English national side in 1996, he would soon land himself in trouble.
In an interview with Matt Dickinson of the Times, Hoddle claimed that people with disabilities were being punished for transgressions in a past life. Hoddle claimed that “some people have not been born like that [disability free] for a reason. The karma is working from another lifetime.”
The furore that followed these comments caused Hoddle to be sacked from the England management position, and he has struggled to restore his tarnished reputation in the football world ever since.
6. Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong was on his way to cementing his place as one of the world’s leading cyclists, before his climb through the ranks was halted in October 1996 by a diagnosis of cancer.
At one time, wrists the world over were embellished with one of Armstrong’s “Livestrong” bands, and when he went on to recover and subsequently win seven consecutive Tour de France races Armstrong was hailed as a phenomenon.
The glittering façade was ruined, however, when Armstrong admitted using performance enhancing drugs for all seven of his Tour de France wins. He was stripped of his titles by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and banned from cycling competitively for life.
5. Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius came to prominence when he won gold at the Athens Paralympics in 2002, smashing the world record with a time of 21.97 seconds before going on to dominate the Paralympic sprinting world for the next few years.
Pistorius became an icon for amputees around the world when he competed against able-bodied athletes in the 2012 Olympics in London. The Blade Runner, as he had become known, was held up as an example for amputees around the world, but his iconic status was destroyed when he was convicted in 2014 of the culpable homicide of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius was sentenced to 5 years in prison in Kgosi Mampuru II jail in Pretoria, described by one former inmate as the “worst of…the prisons in which he has done time.”
4. Benito Mussolini
In 1921, being asked by the president to form a government was the culmination of a dizzying rise through Italy’s political elite for Mussolini. Mussolini consolidated his power over the coming years, presenting himself as the saviour of Italy and the cure to her ills.
World War 2 was not kind to Italy and she suffered a number of bruising defeats, eventually causing Mussolini to be overthrown by his former colleagues in the fascist party. When the allies advanced north, Mussolini attempted to flee, until he was caught by Italian partisans and shot, and his body hung upside down from a lamp post along with that of his mistress.
3. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods exploded into the golfing world in 1997, winning his first major at the age of 21 and setting records in the process. This was the beginning of the most successful professional golf career to date, and Woods would dominate the sport for the next decade.
He seemed unstoppable, until revelations about his private life and rumoured infidelity to his wife surfaced. The first drops of information concerned a cocktail waitress and a 31 month long affair, and once this reached the public the floodgates opened with many more women coming forward to claim they had also had affairs with Woods.
In light of these revelations, which cost his sponsors a reputed $12 billion, Woods underwent a severe dip in form which saw him fall to his lowest ever ranking (56) in 2015, a slump he shows no signs of improving upon.
2. Jimmy Saville
Knighted by the Queen of England for his services to television and his philanthropy, Saville was the ubiquitous face of television in Britain for decades. He presented Top of the Pops, a pop music institution in Britain. For years, he was the star of his own show, Jim’ll Fix It, in which Saville encouraged children to write to him with their wishes. He would grant them, amid much fanfare and television magic.
He was a regular visitor in the palaces of the Royal family and the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street, as well the hospitals where he carried out his charity work with characteristic zeal. Referred to by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as “truly a great Briton”, Saville managed to make it to the end of his life before his crimes were exposed to the public.
They were heinous, blood chilling crimes of sexual abuses with the victims ranging in age between 5 and 75. Saville allegedly had an “unwholesome interest in the dead”. All this behind the façade of the oddball philanthropist, Saville made it to the grave without ever facing punishment for his abhorrent crimes.
1. Michael Jackson
By the end of his life, the King of Pop was one of the most divisive characters on the planet, condemned to spend his last years in hiding from a media that hounded him at every turn.
By the end of his career, it was hard to believe that this man was once the biggest star in the world, creator of the biggest selling album of all time as well as numerous number one singles.
He was showered with awards throughout his career, from his time as the cherub-faced leader of the Jackson 5 through his glittering solo career, accumulating 13 Grammy Awards as well as countless others.
Jackson’s star wouldn’t keep shining with such bright light however, when events in the late nineties marked the beginning of his descent into pariah status. His baby-dangling antics didn’t endear him to anyone, and a bizarre appearance at the 2002 VMAs caused many to question Jackson’s mental state.
By the time the allegations of child abuse surfaced, Jackson’s public image was considerably bruised and the media wasted no time in splashing these claims across every newspaper page and news segment. In the end, Jackson was reduced to prescription drug dependence, reportedly taking huge doses of pills just so he could sleep at night.
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