Celebrities are always under the microscope. For many, it’s like living in a fishbowl. Everyone gets to watch as you live your life. Of course, people are going to screw up when the cameras are rolling 24/7. If you spend long enough in the public eye, some sort of scandal will eventually rise and threaten your career. Some are more personal and forgivable problems (like drug abuse), but others completely change the way the public views a celebrity.
Some celebrities never escape the scandals in which they’re caught-up. They continue to fall until they’re all but forgotten by their fans. Other celebrities are able to revitalize their career after a scandal. They continue to work and hope the public forget about their colored past.
Even in some of the most reprehensible cases, the public has found the ability to forgive some celebrities. The world of sports (the NFL in particular) is often criticized for only caring about on-field production rather than off-field behavior. This is the reason Ray Rice (who stinks) was virtually kicked out of the league and players like Greg Hardy were still able to find work. The same thing happens in entertainment, though. If they’re good enough, we’ll forgive almost anything.
15. Paul Reubens
You may not know the name Paul Reubens, but you certainly know the character he played in Pee-wee Herman. Pee-wee Herman became a cult success when it was first introduced to the world in 1982, and became the focal point of Reubens’ career. Reubens committed completely to the role, giving all of his public appearances in character as Pee-wee Herman.
Reubens’ scandal came in 1991, when he was arrested for mast*rbating in an adult theater. He became the butt of the joke at this point, and withdrew from the public eye and his Pee-wee character. Toy stores took the Pee-wee toys off of the shelves, and it seemed it would be the last we heard from the character.
Eventually, Reubens made his comeback by playing supporting characters in multiple movies and TV shows. He found his greatest success in the film Blow, starring Johnny Depp. Now, Reubens is back to doing his Pee-wee Herman character full-time with his new show, and hardly anyone remembers the embarrassing scandal surrounding him in the ’90s.
14. Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe has come far enough away from his scandal, that virtually no one remembers he was in the middle of one to begin with. For those who don’t know, the Parks and Rec and The West Wing star was embroiled in a possibly career-ending scandal in the late 1990’s.
Lowe became a famous actor at a young age, and he enjoyed the spoils of being a Hollywood heartthrob. In the 1980’s, he met two girls at a club who agreed to be videotaped while having s*x with him. Of course, the video was leaked to the public, and it turned out that one of the girls was underage. Lowe settled the lawsuit out of court, but it wasn’t the last time he would be defending himself in such a manner.
Lowe sued two of his employees in 2008 for defamation (among other charges) for saying that the actor made s*xual advances on them. It wasn’t anything on the caliber of his s*x tape, but it certainly wasn’t a good look for him. Despite his controversies, Lowe was able to land roles on two hit television shows. It appears that his acting ability outweighed his questionable decision-making in the past.
13. Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson has been involved in some of the more high-profile scandals in Hollywood. He’s offended pretty much everyone who isn’t a white Christian, dating back to some homophobic remarks he made in a 1991 interview.
The most damning controversy Gibson has been a part of took place in 2010, when his voice mails to Oksana Grigorieva were released to the public. In these tapes, Gibson can be heard saying the ‘N’ word among other reprehensible phrases. He’s been accused of antisemitism both in his public life and in his film The Passion of the Christ.
For a while, Gibson was blackballed by the entertainment industry. He found it hard to find work, and even harder to find critical acclaim. Eventually, Hollywood softened on Gibson, even nominating his 2016 film, Hacksaw Ridge, for an Academy Award.
12. Woody Allen
Woody Allen is thought by many to be one of the greats in the comedy realm. He is strange and eccentric, but many of his films are used as examples in film classes around the world. There has been some controversy surrounding Allen, and if it’s true, it certainly taints his legacy to a massive degree.
During Allen’s divorce to Mia Farrow, Farrow alleged that Allen molested her daughter. Dylan Farrow, Mia’s daughter, corroborated those claims and said that she was molested during a visit with Allen after the two had split up. The judge did not convict Allen of any crime, but barred him from visiting her after the divorce.
While some of the children who were raised in the Allen-Farrow household disputed their sister’s claims, Dylan Farrow doubled-down on her allegations in 2014. The truth of the matter may never be known, but this scandal is virtually forgotten today.
11. Caitlyn Jenner
Not many people know this, but before Bruce Jenner transitioned to Caitlyn Jenner, there was an even bigger story that got overshadowed by her transition. Jenner, who had yet to come out publicly as a transgender, was the cause of a multi-car crash in Los Angeles that cost the life of Kim Howe.
Jenner faced multiple lawsuits after the crash which, by all accounts, was due to her own negligence. It was determined that she may face a manslaughter charge, but any criminal charges were ruled out soon after the accident.
Jenner has tried to pass the buck multiple times since the crash. She’s tried to blame the paparazzi to get out of her multiple lawsuits, and some even theorize that part of the reason she came out as transgender was to avoid criminal prosecution (though I’m not sure how that would be effective). It’s been largely overshadowed by her transition, but the fact remains, her negligence behind the wheel cost someone their life.
10. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods can’t seem to get out of his own way. Just last weekend, he was arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence of prescription drugs. It’s probably the final nail in the coffin for Tiger, but it won’t stop fans from saying he’ll come back to form someday.
Tiger Woods’ s*x scandal was one of the most embarrassing and career-wrecking controversies in recent memory. His private s*xual endeavors were broadcast to the world (including peeing on girls) and his image was compromised.
Still, in the years following the scandal, Tiger Woods’ fans stuck by him. Despite the fact that Woods’ body seemed to be breaking down and he continued to withdraw from tournaments, fans continued to say that Tiger would be back to the level that he attained earlier in his career. Woods may not be in the clear as far as public image, but it’s become apparent that his fans will disregard everything he does off of the golf course.
9. Bill Cosby
Before you say, “But wait, he’s basically dead to the world right now,” here me out. These Bill Cosby r*pe allegations were nothing new. They came to light again when Hannibal Buress made a joke about them during his set, but they were available for public consumption long before they reemerged. If this wasn’t the case, Hannibal wouldn’t have had the nerve to make a joke about it.
These allegations took place long before the internet was around, so he flew under the radar to some degree. The other part of the reason he got away with it was because he was comedy at that time. He was the face of family-friendly material, and no one wanted to believe he could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
There have been over 50 allegations against Cosby. That number is too high to be false. If even 10% of the allegations is true, then, we’re still looking at a serial rapist. He may have lost the adoration of the country in his old age, but Cosby survived the scandal for far too long.
8. Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore suffered from drug addiction and depression during the early part of her career, which many people attribute to the fact that she was a child star. She got her first role when she was only a baby, and her career continued to grow from there. Many child stars go on to have rough lives after their stint in the spotlight is over, but Barrymore was able to resurrect her career after what seemed to be the end.
Barrymore was addicted to drugs and alcohol at a young age, and had to spend time in rehab to combat her drug problem. After her second trip to rehab, Barrymore even attempted suicide in her apartment. Thankfully, Barrymore was able to turn her life around and establish a career for herself in Hollywood. Now, she can be seen starring in movies alongside famous co-stars.
7. Hugh Grant
Hugh Grant almost lost his career before it really got going when he was arrested in June of 1995 for receiving oral s*x in a public place from a prostitute. Grant was just beginning his career as every American woman’s perfect British man, and almost had it fall flat on its face.
The act itself isn’t the worst thing on this list. The timing may have been. Grant was just about to start a press tour for the move Nine Months, his first major studio film. Grant appeared on shows such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Larry King Live, where he was grilled about the incident. Many people respected his response to the scandal, as he seemed to take responsibility for his actions and laugh at himself. Thankfully, Hugh Grant was talented at damage control, or else, some of the better chick-flicks of the late ’90s to early 2000’s wouldn’t have been made.
6. Peyton Manning
It may come as a surprise to you that Peyton Manning has been mixed up in some scandals, as not many people have even heard of some of the things he’s done. The media loves Peyton Manning, and the Manning family mafia has been effective at shutting most of these stories down before they get legs.
There is the recent steroids scandal, where Peyton Manning was revealed to have been using HGH to recover from his neck injury. The media acted like this was no big deal, and focused on Tom Brady’s deflated footballs instead. This, though, isn’t the scandal to which I’m referring.
Manning, while at the University of Tennessee (for brevity’s sake), tea-bagged a female trainer during an examination. According to the court documents, Manning “forcefully maneuvered his naked t*sticles and r*ctum directly on her face with his p*nis on top of her head.” What followed was a cover-up of epic proportions. It looks like this “squeaky-clean” quarterback has more than a few skeletons in his past.
5. Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson offered one of the more surprising comebacks on this list. He was considered by many to be a complete psychopath. His out-of-ring behavior was notably unsavory, and his legacy of being one of the best boxers of all time is somewhat overshadowed by the infamous ear-biting situation against Evander Holyfield.
Tyson’s most polarizing and detrimental public scandal came in the form of his 1991 r*pe conviction. Tyson spent three years in jail for this offense, and returned to boxing with mixed reviews. Tyson maintains his innocence in the matter, but his career continued in the wake of this conviction.
Tyson’s later career was equally controversial, and many fans considered him to be legitimately insane. Despite this fact, Tyson has made a name for himself in the entertainment industry after his boxing career. He’s had a successful one-man show in Vegas, released books, and appeared in movies such as The Hangover. People seem to have forgotten the previous image of Mike Tyson, which works to his advantage for his current fame.
4. Michael Vick
In 2007, Michael Vick pleaded guilty to the charge of financing a dog fighting operation. There are a lot of divisive issues in this country, but when it comes to a man forcing dogs to fight to their death, virtually, everyone is on the same side. Vick was sentenced to 23 months in jail for his involvement in the dog fighting ring, and was suspended without pay from the NFL.
Vick remains one of the most athletic individuals to ever play the quarterback position, and was able to find work after he got out of jail. He was the backup to Donovan McNabb on the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007, and eventually went on to start once McNabb was traded to the Redskins. He continued to play in the NFL after his stint in Philadelphia ended, playing for the Jets and the Steelers, respectively.
Even though Vick was able to revitalize his career to some extent, most people remember the sickening scandal he was a part of. Many can separate on-field productivity with off-field behavior, but Vick never fully escaped the shadow of his past actions.
3. Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump is one of the most bulletproof individuals ever to grace the public eye. No matter what you think of his policies or his individual contribution to this country, you have to, at least, appreciate his ability to roll with the punches.
Donald Trump has, and continues to, put his foot in his mouth at nearly every turn. He’s been alleged to have done pretty much everything, but nothing seems to stick to him. Many people thought it would be the end of Trump when the Access Hollywood tape revealed his classic “Grab em by the pu**y” comment, but he went on to win the election.
That tape cost Billy Bush his career, but Donald Trump kept chugging along in Bush’s wake. Now that he’s president, the allegations against Trump have become more serious, but he continues to prosper. It’s as if Trump creates his own reality, and in that reality, no one cares what he says or does.
2. Robert Downey Jr.
The way Robert Downey Jr. turned his life and career around after his drug scandal is the mark of a true Hollywood success story.
Downey Jr. was one of Hollywood’s top actors in the early part of his career, landing roles in some blockbuster films and making him a household name. Unfortunately, his career took a turn for the worse when he was arrested multiple times for drug possession. He later admitted that he had been addicted to drugs since he was a child, and his addicted father was the first one to introduce him to such substances.
In 1996, Downey Jr .was arrested for possession of cocaine and a handgun. While on parole for these charges, he broke into a neighbor’s home under the influence and passed out on their bed. He was sentenced to three years on probation for this, but missed a drug test and was forced to spend six months in jail.
Downey Jr. eventually got his act together, and through friendships and his talent, he got his acting career back on track. Now, he’s one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood and has the role of a lifetime in Iron Man.
1. Chris Brown
Chris Brown‘s comeback has to be one of the most impressive turnarounds in entertainment history. Brown was one of the hottest stars on the planet. His music was a commercial success and his acting career was just getting going, but it all crashed down on him one night in 2009.
As everyone probably knows, Chris Brown was arrested for the assault of his girlfriend and fellow singer, Rihanna. To make matters worse, the pictures of Rihanna’s face after the attack were sickening. Brown’s music was pulled from many radio stations and he was effectively shunned by many of his fans.
Chris Brown persevered after his domestic violence scandal…almost to an alarming degree. Brown released F.A.M.E in 2011, and it was as if he had never been in the middle of such a scandal. Most people remember what happened, but Brown’s abuse has been largely swept under the rug by the entertainment industry.