Major stars are celebrated as part of our daily pop culture obsessed lives - we know this, and they know this. That’s why it’s surprising to see how quickly one can ruin their career. Sometimes Hollywood is to blame, sometimes drugs, and sometimes even the 19th hole for one famed golfer who refused to “leave it all on the course.” Here are 15 celebrities that ruined their amazing careers through their self-destructive ways.
A couple of honorable mentions go to Kurt Cobain, an inspiration to a generation that barely got to know him and then lost to drugs and suicide. Tatum O’Neal was the youngest winner of the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Unfortunately heroin became her support, sending her life and career down the toilet.
Others just missing the list include racist Paula Deen, who not only has to deal with the backlash from her words, but also Anthony Bourdain - he doesn’t let anything go. Shannen Doherty gets mention for just being a difficult and terrible person. She got too demanding and was kicked off both Beverly Hills 90210 and Charmed. Aaron Spelling has since refused to work with her. Maybe she should have just chilled out, maybe “drugs?”
Celebrities creating career suicide doesn’t fit one category – we’ve got bad boys, racists, TV Dads, comedians and of course musicians, always musicians. Here are 15 celebrities that decided to derail their professional life and ruin their careers.
15 Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen is a difficult one to label. On one hand he was very successful in his career, pulling in about 30 million a year at one point (Two and a Half Men) and then going on to ink a deal worth 200 million (Anger Management). However, for a guy that was already a border-line actor, his “winning” meltdown ensured he would not have a future in the business. Since, he has not found any leading roles and has recently announced that his reckless life of partying, sex and drug use has not gone without consequences as he is now living with HIV. Today, his biggest roles are his appearances on Dr. Oz – that’s a long way from playing Bud Fox in Wall Street.
14 Shia LaBeouf
Here’s a classic case of knowing when to pick your breakdowns, or when not to have a breakdown. Shia LaBeouf was at his peak, starring in the Transformers movies as well as once next in line to be Indiana Jones. I guess is what just too much to handle because LaBeouf threw it all away by getting into trouble (bar fights, legal troubles, more fighting) and then staging strange protests or projects or starting conspiracies. He would do things like lock himself in a room or wear a paper bag on his head. Eventually he came out and said he was having some mental issues and was now all better; however, apparently no one is buying it, or wants to waste their time because LaBeouf is no longer the “A-Lister” he once was.
13 Courtney Love
Courtney Love started off as the singer of the band Hole, became semi-successful and then very famous when she married Kurt Cobain. She then turned to acting, playing the role of Althea in The People vs. Larry Flynt. She received critical praise for her role of the junkie wife of Larry Flynt. Instead of building on this performance she went the route of self-destruction, turning to drugs and becoming more of an eclectic artist capable of pulling a publicity stunt at any moment. (Remember the menstrual blood wedding dress?) Hollywood execs refer to these people as risks and are not prone to giving them work.
12 Britney Spears
Starting her career young, Britney Spears seamlessly made the transition from child superstar to adult superstar, becoming an international pop star by the age 17. Fame is tricky, especially the kind of major fame she received, and hence, she had somewhat of a breakdown. It started in 2004 with a two day marriage, and then she married a back-up dancer and was actually considered mentally ill, leading to her ex-husband taking custody of their children. She was constantly in the tabloids and not in a good way, usually drunk, chopping off her hair or saying something upsetting. Spears lost her “top dog” pop star status, but has staged quite a comeback and made a name for herself in Vegas. Hey, it worked for Elvis!
11 Axl Rose
Axl Rose was the epitome of unstable rock star in the eighties and nineties. Early on this worked as Guns N’ Roses, “the world’s most dangerous band,” were fuelled by controversy and decadence, but this changed. In the late nineties Rose’s act got tiring for original members of the band, who all eventually left, leaving Rose with new musicians and a promise of a new record he couldn’t deliver. Eventually he did deliver it, but it was never the same. Today most of the band is back together, but they are old and will never get those years back. Today everything seems forced and contrived. There’s nothing destructive or decadent about that…
10 Lindsay Lohan
The definition of a Hollywood train wreck, Lindsay Lohan was a singer and gifted actress, she just couldn’t handle the fame that came along with this life and quickly dove into drugs and alcohol. Her downfall included arrests, being fired from movies and being known as unpredictable. Also, there’s the issue of her parents, a dynamic duo of chaos and instability. Despite countless rehab stints and small roles she has never regained her momentum as an up-and-coming actress. She has appeared in adult magazines and nude in independent movies, and to little surprise, neither have kick-started her career. At this point I’m guessing she would settle for any job that keeps her out of jail.
9 Macaulay Culkin
Macaulay Culkin appeared to just burn out. He was a giant child star, starring in both the Home Alone movies as well The Good Son and then that was it. Culkin married early and got into drugs and his parents were a mess, always fighting over custody of their rich son. The drugs took their hold and fans were shocked to see the skeleton-like pictures of Culkin during the height of his addiction. Culkin has also had a failed marriage and no luck with in his other relationships. This is a sad story of too much put on a child who despite being rich probably would trade it all in for a more stable personal life.
8 Chris Brown
Chris Brown was one of the biggest names in the R&B world. He was on top of the world - dating Rihanna and was going with her to the Grammy Awards, and then everything changed for Brown. The morning of the Grammy Awards, Rihanna found messages from other women on Brown’s phone. There was a confrontation and Brown assaulted Rihanna. Obviously, Rihanna had totally caught him red handed. She attended the Grammys with the markings of the assault. Since this incident, Brown has been charged with two felonies and never been able to capture the commercial success he had prior to that morning.
7 Mel Gibson
Fans loved Mel Gibson the man as much as his movies. Mad Max was fun. Gibson’s directing and Oscar win for Braveheart was the pinnacle of an already successful career that had elevated him within the elite of Hollywood, then it happened. A series of Gibson's racist conversations were leaked, exposing him as the bigot and sexist man he really is. He has also been connected to involvement in protests via Twitter and Facebook which just begs the question: WHY? Anyway, fans of the Lethal Weapon movies can rest assured they if they got hit by a bus today they would not be missing another installment. In fact, unless financed with his own money, don’t bet on Gibson starring in any major movie ever again.
6 Whitney Houston
Hands down one of the greatest singers of all time, Whitney Houston let drugs slow down her career and then eventually ended her life. Her peak was seven consecutive number one singles and star of The Bodyguard which produced “I Will Always Love You,” one of the greatest selling singles of all time. After this movie she got into drugs and then got into Bobby Brown, which created a multiplier effect on her drug use. The drugs impacted her voice, drive and eventually her life. Despite splitting with Brown in 2007 and entering rehab she never kicked the habit, dying in 2012, in her bathtub.
5 Michael Richards
Definitely “file” this one under the “what were you thinking?” category. Michael Richards, on stage one night, decided to go off on a racist, hateful rant. The rant, caught on camera, went viral and was full of derogatory words and bad stereotypes. His career hasn’t been the same since. Starring as Kramer in the show Seinfeld, Richards was always a little “off,” but that was just part of his charm. He has since apologized for his words, referring to his rant as “selfish,” but it hasn’t helped, resulting only in small parts from his old connections, Jerry Seinfeld (Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee) and Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm).
4 Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby was the creator and star of The Cosby Show, one of the biggest sitcoms in the eighties that gave the half-hour comedy genre a real shot in the arm. Now people know Cosby as the guy being accused constantly of wrong doing. It’s now somewhere around 40 women last count. 40 women that are alleging Cosby sexually assaulted them, mostly by drugging them and taking advantage. Cosby was the quintessential “TV Dad” and set the bar for all other TV Dads. Now, his fame and work is forever lost; instead, he will be known as the creep who allegedly drugged women and then had sex with him. Those sweaters don’t seem as much fun anymore, in fact, they seem somewhat ugly.
3 Michael Jackson
The King of Pop was just that, the biggest name in music for many years. Michael Jackson had a strange upbringing and his obsession with plastic surgery was concerning, but none of that mattered as people continued to buy his albums and go to his concerts. Then the reports of boys and sleepovers started appearing. Apparently Jackson’s lifestyle was very weird and he would arrange for sleepovers with boys. This led to a criminal investigation and even an arrest, resulting in Jackson paying a lot of money and essentially being broke. He still had fans, but most left not knowing what to believe.
2 Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods was the world’s greatest golfer and appeared to be the world’s greatest role model. That all changed one night in November 2009, when his then wife (rightfully) blew up and came after him. What followed was quite shocking…a parade of B-list actresses, adult movie stars and others came out to say they had had affairs with Woods. He lost major sponsors and lost custody of his children. Unfortunately for Woods, injuries also hit at the same time, so trying to stage a comeback as a way of retribution has not been in the cards. Woods went from greatest golfer of all time to greatest golfer for a number of years in a flash.
1 Hulk Hogan
There was both a sex tape and racist comments uttered by Hulk Hogan that really killed his career which is a shame because WWE is still huge and Hogan could be reaping the benefits for his legacy that has really taken a hit. Once considered the greatest wrestler of all time - now almost all mention of Hogan has been removed from the WWE website. Hogan “chose” to resign from the organization and has since been in court suing Gawker for publishing the content that has led to his demise. Once known as the WWE Champion and WCW's World Heavyweight Champion, Hogan has now become a punch line and his legacy has gone from feature to footnote.