There are a few celebs that absolutely everyone knows have been in prison. Perhaps it’s a whole part of their persona, like with 50 Cent. Perhaps they discuss it constantly in interviews, or even make it a part of their brand like with T.I. However, the majority of celebs who spent time behind bars try to keep it on the down low. It’s easy to see why. If you’re angling to be a certain type of hardcore musician or a certain actor specializing in villains, perhaps prison time might add some credibility to your rap sheet. However, for most celebrities, it’s just a mark on your record drawing attention to your vices and weaknesses, and may make producers and directors a bit hesitant to work with you for fear you may go off the rails and disappear behind bars again.
Now, there are obviously varying degrees of hard time in the celebrity world. There are many, many celebrities who have been locked up for a few days, or even just a few hours, due to things like violating their DUI probation. While that’s definitely not something to be proud of, it’s a far different experience than those celebrities who have had months, or even years, behind bars. However, time in prison is still technically time in prison – and here are 10 seemingly “innocent” celebs you might not believe have done time behind bars.
10 Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart’s incarceration was probably the most surprising, as it seemingly came out of nowhere. Stewart was imprisoned for getting involved in questionable stock market actions, went on a publicized six-week trial, and was eventually imprisoned on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators. She ended up serving five months in West Virginia. However, she used the same determination in prison that she used in business, and made the best of her time before being released for two years of supervised living. We can’t help but wonder what kind of concoctions Martha crafted up for herself and her fellow inmates to help deal with awful prison food.
9 Nicole Richie
Nowadays, Nicole Richie is best known for her super chic style. She’s a fashion designer for her companies including House of Harlow, a mother, an author, a reality television personality and more. While she’s still as candid and hilarious as ever, she’s far more stylish and low key. However, in her younger years, Richie had several tangles with the law due to her drug use. In 2007, she received a sentence of four days in jail for driving under the influence. However, due to overcrowding (the factor in California prisons that seemingly constantly gets celebrities out in no time) she only served 82 minutes. Still, time in prison is time in prison.
8 Paul McCartney
During his time with The Beatles, Paul McCartney was under constant scrutiny. Sure, the paparazzi weren’t quite as technologically savvy and ever-present back then as they are now, but everyone knew when scandal erupted in the group. So, surprisingly, it wasn’t during his Beatles fame that McCartney ran into trouble with the law – it was afterwards. In 1980, McCartney was touring Japan with his band Wings. He flew into Narita airport with 8 ounces of marijuana on him and, unsurprisingly, he was caught by airport authorities and arrested. He was placed in a Japanese prison facing a potential seven year sentence, but luckily, he only remained behind bars for 9 days.
7 Christian Slater
Back in the 1990s, when he was one of the heartthrobs in the movie industry, Christian Slater ran into a few drug problems that led to brushes with the law. At one point, he assaulted his then-girlfriend while intoxicated and engaged in a fight with police when they arrived to break things up. As a result, he was sentenced to 90 days in prison followed by a mandatory three months in rehab and a year in a domestic abuse program. Slater has stated that the experience was actually an eye-opening one that had a positive outcome, as it forced him to take some time to evaluate his life and the path he was on. While he has managed to tame his drug issues in the apst decade or so, he hasn’t quite attained the level of fame he had pre-prison.
6 Tim Allen
The roles that actor Tim Allen is best known for are almost comically wholesome – the patriarch of a family on sitcom Home Improvement, the voice behind the hilarious Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story films, and flipping Santa in the Santa Clause films! However, before he was a successful actor, Allen was just a struggling comedian trying to make it work and trying to get his name in lights. Until you reach the major leagues, comedy doesn’t necessarily pay you the big bucks, so Allen supplemented his income with a less than reputable job – drug dealing. Way back in 1978, he was arrested for drug trafficking and sentenced for 3 to 7 years. All told, Allen served 2 years and 4 months at a correctional facility in Minnesota. Who knew?!
5 Jamie Waylett
The main characters in the Harry Potter film franchise – Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe, and Emma Watson – have remained absolutely model citizens in their years since the films. While many child stars go off the edge once they grow up, they have remained lovely and level-headed. However, there were more than just those three actors in the films – and they haven’t all been so angelic. Jamie Waylett, who played bumbling bully Vincent Crabbe in the films, was arrested for violent disorder in London after participating in the London riots. And we’re not just talking about smashing a few windows – Waylett was found with a petrol bomb. He was given a two year sentence – and, with a cannabis possession charge already under his belt, we feel like this might not be his last conviction.
4 Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda is certainly sassy, but the 78 year old hardly seems like a troublemaker or someone who would get into trouble with the law. However, when she wasn’t starring in films as a successful actress, Fonda has engaged with her fair share of political activism. In 1970, she was jailed in Cleveland because of a speaking engagement in Canada where she spoke against the Vietnam War, according to Fonda. She only spent one night behind bars before she was released on bond, although it may not seem that inconsequential given that the newspapers at the time went crazy reporting her arrest and the speculated reason behind it.
3 Yasmine Bleeth
Everyone knows Yasmine Bleeth from her time as a brunette bombshell on the show Baywatch. However, things haven’t all been fantasy jogs in the sand for Bleeth. Over the years, she’s been arrested numerous times for DUI and drug charges, and her various misdemeanors eventually resulted in spending a night in jail. While she may not have spent a great deal of time behind bars, she was sentenced to two years’ probation and will likely have a harsher sentence awaiting her if she ever goes down the same path again.
2 Danny Trejo
Actor Danny Trejo has become known for playing the bad guy in action films, but there are many other actors who have made a reputation for themselves playing villains. However, in Trejo’s case, he may be able to relate to some of his characters’ rap sheets on a whole different level, seeing as he spent a whopping 11 years behind bars. He was involved with crime throughout the 1960s, and had several stints in juvenile detention and prison, before he fell into acting almost accidentally – a director offered him to train one of his film’s actors in boxing, knowing Trejo’s expertise, which Trejo turned into a small role as a boxer in that film and eventually a successful film career.
1 Mark Wahlberg
While Mark Wahlberg has carved out a successful acting career over the years, taking roles in both comedic films like Ted and various action movies, he initially got into the entertainment industry as a singer – he was the dreamy, ripped rapper known as Marky Mark who fronted Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. However, before he was a teenage rapper, he ran with bad crowd and had over a dozen run-ins with the law. His most serious, however, came at sixteen, when he attacked a group of men and was eventually charged with attempted murder – though the charge was reduced to criminal contempt eventually. Wahlberg was given a two-year prison sentence, although he only served 45 days.