Considering how obsessed the world is with celebrities, it seems that there could be nothing new to learn about any of them, especially when it’s really big news. Well, that doesn’t seem to be true about traumatic events in a star’s life. Sure, there are certain stars who have taken their tragic pasts and used them as a platform to help others. In most cases, the histories of the stars are broadcasted far and wide. But many celebrities–if not all celebrities–hide their trauma. They don’t discuss it often because it’s not a fun experience for them. It’s not that these stars are afraid of their pasts. After all, they have spoken about these events at least once. Otherwise, we would have never heard about them. They just don’t advertise them openly.
We’ve spoken about horrific tragedies that happened to stars in the past. We talked about the horrible events that plagued stars like Keanu Reeves and Kelsey Grammer. We dragged out the ugly and sad truths that made a mark on some of the world’s most famous celebrities. Well, we wanted to continue that series. We’ve gone out and pulled up more sad histories of celebs we all thought we knew. Maybe these stories will change the way you look at these stars. Maybe you’ll see them more as the humans they are when you know what tragedies they’ve faced in the past. Here are 15 Horrific Tragedies That Happened To Stars in Real Life (PART TWO).
15. Martin Short
There’s long been a connection between comics and tragedy. Like sad clowns, many comedians have used humor to escape their own tragedies. While tragedy is a word that fits comedian legend Martin Short well, he certainly has never tried to escape his trauma or even use that word to describe it. For Short, death has just always been a part of his life. At the age of 12, one of his brothers was killed in a car accident. His mother was sick with cancer for years but then went into remission. Sadly, when he was only 18, she passed away. A couple of years later, his father died after having a stroke. Short would go on to have an enormous career and was happily married for 30 years to actress Nancy Dolman. Last year, she too died at the age of 58, leaving behind Martin with their three children.
14. Christopher Titus
Christopher Titus is a comedian and star of the show Titus. Most of his routines are based on his own troubled history. As a child, Titus experienced some very strange and troubling times. His mother was a diagnosed as schizophrenic and his father was an alcoholic. After his mother went into a mental hospital when Titus was four, he was taken from his father’s custody and given to his grandparents on his mom’s side. His father then plotted to kidnap him from their custody, but he found legal means of getting his son back instead. Titus then ran away from his father and lived in his mother’s garage. Things were not much better there. His mother remarried and, when Titus was in his early 20’s, she killed her second husband after he beat her for not having Thanksgiving dinner prepared on time. Titus’ mother then committed suicide after being ordered into therapy after an event involving a duraflame log and a sheriff’s window. After his father would die in 2001, in spite of their difficult past, Titus said he “never missed a beer in his life, or a joint, or a party, or a chance to get laid,” he also “never missed a day of work, or a house payment, or a car payment. I never went hungry although he did a couple times so I wouldn’t.”
13. Patton Oswalt
Plenty of people, stars and us regular folk alike, lose loved ones to terrible diseases and horrific circumstances, but being the one to find your loved one dead makes the event even more tragic. That’s how it went for poor Patton Oswalt. In April of 2016, Oswalt’s wife, true-crime writer Michelle McNamara, was found dead in the couple’s bed after complications from a combination of an undiagnosed heart condition and prescription medication. McNamara went to bed not feeling well and took some medication. The next morning, Oswalt got up, took his daughter to school, grabbed a coffee for his wife, and put it beside her bedside table. It wasn’t until after noon that Oswalt went to check on his wife to see why she had not gotten up that he discovered she was not breathing. He said that was the second worst day of his life. The worst was telling his daughter his mother was dead.
12. Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth is one of the most famous names in Hollywood history, but little is known about her past. She grew up in a family of dancers and began her training as soon as she could walk. Although she rarely spoke about it, it is said that Hayworth’s father s*xually assaulted her early and often. And though her mother tried to protect her daughter, she was unsuccessful. By the time Hayworth was 14, her father had her dancing in the show with him, posing as husband and wife. When she turned 18, Hayworth married a 41-year-old man to escape her father. This man, Eddie Judson, was really no better. Reports suggest that he would loan his wife out to other men to help her career. She eventually left him for Orson Welles, and that’s another story in and of itself.
11. Russell Brand
Russell Brand is an interesting person. Obviously, he’s a very talented actor and comedian, but he’s also well-spoken and informed. Although his issues with drugs and the police have been well-documented, he’s clean and sober for a while now. Brand struggled with drug addiction for much of his life. He’s also been arrested numerous times and was addicted to p*rnography. Much of this probably stems from his rather extraordinary childhood. At the age of seven, Brand was s*xually abused by his tutor. His mother, the following year, was diagnosed with uterine cancer and then breast cancer the following year. He began to suffer from bulimia as a young teen and turned to hard drugs. His father, when he was around, would take Brand to visit international prostitutes. After all that, you might understand why he’s had some issues in his personal life.
10. Jake Weber
You’d know Jake Weber from Dawn of the Dead, Medium, Meet Joe Black, and The Mind of the Married Man. You wouldn’t know that Weber’s mother suffered LSD-induced schizophrenia and died of a drug overdose when he was eight. She was living at Keith Richards‘ estate at the time and died in the mansion. That same year, as Weber recalled in an interview, his father, who was a drug trafficker, “used him as a drug mule to bring cocaine out for Mick and Bianca Jagger’s wedding.” Mick Jagger even joked that he remembers an eight-year-old Weber rolling joints for the band.
9. James Garner
Modern audiences might know James Garner as the old guy in The Notebook, but he was Maverick in Maverick and Rockford in The Rockford Files. He also had a very traumatic childhood. When Garner was just five, his mother died. His father remarried. This new woman, Wilma, was extremely abusive. She would beat James and his brothers endlessly. Wilma would force James to wear a dress in public as well. When he was 14, James fought back. He knocked Wilma down and choked her. He said that he thought, if he let her up, she would kill him. Eventually, he did and the abuse settled down for some time. Not long after, his father left Wilma and married another much kinder woman.
8. Eric Clapton
If you know anything about Eric Clapton, you probably know that his son died and was the inspiration for the song “Tears in Heaven.” The details of the event have been lost on many people, though. The tragic tale took place in 1991. Conor was not yet five years old and was living with his mother, Lory Del Santo, in a high-rise New York condominium. The story goes that a housekeeper had opened the six-by-four window, and Conor darted past her and fell out the window. Clapton, who was in New York at the time, received a call from Conor’s mother explaining he had died, falling 49 stories onto the roof of a neighboring building. Clapton describes walking past the crowds, the ambulances, and the building altogether that day, afraid to go inside and face reality.
7. Kelly McGillis
Actress Kelly McGillis rose to fame in the ’80s with massive roles in Witness, Top Gun, and The Accused. Before her big jump to stardom, McGillis suffered through unimaginable trauma. In 1988, she opened up about an event that took place in 1982. After getting out of the shower and putting on a robe, she heard a knock at the door. When she opened it, two men forced their way in. They poked at her with their knives and brought her to the bedroom. Both men took turns in s*xually assaulting while holding knives to her face, stabbing her, and spitting on her. The men were arrested, but since one was only 15, he only served a few years. This trauma also led McGillis to reveal that she had been gang-r*ped before by men when she was only 12 years old.
6. Patricia Neal
The incredible work of actress Patricia Neal might be lost on new generations, but she was one of the great actresses of her time, landing roles in The Day the Earth Stood Still, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and winning an Academy Award for Best Actress in Hud. After a tumultuous relationship with the much-older Gary Cooper, Neal married famed author Roald Dahl in 1953. The couple were happy and had children but were then met with terrible tragedy. In 1960, their four-month-old son was hit by a taxi while he was being pushed in a baby carriage. The accident caused severe brain damage to the child. Two years later, their other child, seven-year-old Olivia, died from measles encephalitis. Two years after that, while pregnant with their third child, Neal had three cerebral aneurysms burst. She fell into a coma for three weeks and the world mourned her, thinking her as good as dead. She would pull through, giving birth to a healthy daughter, and, in her return to film in 1968, The Subject Was Roses, Neal was nominated for another Academy Award.
5. LL Cool J
LL Cool J has a long list of accolades and even though he’s considered one of the most influential rappers out there, his legacy might actually be under-appreciated, given all he’s done. The star becomes even more amazing when you consider his past. When the rapper was just four years old, he watched his father shoot his grandfather in the stomach and his mother in the back and then flee the scene, leaving them both for dead. They would both survive their injuries and Cool J’s mother would go on to form a relationship with her physical therapist. Unbeknownst to his mother, Cool J was being physically abused by this man during this time. It is because of this abuse that Cool J says he became a bully in school, taking out his anger on others. Years later, the biological father would come back into the picture and make amends for his crimes.
4. Roy Orbison
Everyone knows Roy Orbison‘s name, most know his music, but few know about his personal tragedies. In the mid-60’s, Orbison and his wife, Claudette, were going through marital problems due to infidelity. They divorced in ’64 but agreed to work on things and got back together less than a year later. In 1966, while driving home on their motorcycles together, a truck pulled out in front of Claudette’s bike causing her to crash into the side of the vehicle. The impact killed her but Orbison held her in his arms until first responders came to the scene. Two years later, while Orbison was on tour in England, he received word that his Tennessee home had burned down and in it were two of his sons, who were only 10 years old and eight years old.
3. Charisma Carpenter
Charisma Carpenter will always be best known as Cordelia Chase from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, but she’s been in The Expendables, Charmed, and Veronica Mars as well. Before she was a famous actress, Carpenter experienced a life-threatening experience at Torrey Pines State Beach in 1991. While hanging out with two of her friends, Henry Hubbard Jr., a former police officer and serial r*pist, attacked her. Her two male friends were in the water at the time and Hubbard brandished a gun causing Carpenter to scream. “I thought he was going to rob us,” she said, “but it became clear his intention was to r*pe me and have me tie up the two men.” Hubbard asked Carpenter to tie one friend up, while he tied up the other. Carpenter tied the bonds loosely so her friend could escape, which he did. He then attacked Hubbard. In the fight, both Carpenter’s friends were shot, as was Hubbard. The man was apprehended soon after he fled and was sentenced to 56 years in prison.
2. Chuck Palahniuk
The family history of Chuck Palahniuk, the famed author of Fight Club and other novels, is a crazy one. When his father was a small child, Chuck’s grandfather was hit in the head by a crane boom. Allegedly, this head trauma made the man violent. Not long after that, Chuck’s grandfather got into an argument with his grandmother over the cost of a sewing machine. While Chuck’s father, Fred, a three-year-old child at the time, hid under the bed, he watched his own father shoot his mother and then search the home for Fred to kill him as well. When his search came up empty, the man shot and killed himself. Years later, in 1999, Chuck’s father responded to a personal ad from a woman. It is said that Chuck believes the woman took to his father because of how large he was, and she thought he could protect her. You see, this woman’s ex was violent and was facing charges of r*pe. When Chuck’s father, Fred, and his girlfriend went to a lake house, the ex, Dale Shackleford, followed them, shot them both with a shotgun and then burnt the house down with the bodies inside.
1. Clara Bow
In the 1920’s and ’30s, actress Clara Bow was Hollywood’s ‘It Girl’. No, seriously, the term “the It Girl” arose because Bow played a shop girl in the film It. Before all that, Bow grew up in a troubled home and saw tragedy up close. As a young girl, Bow watched a childhood friend burn to death in front of her in an apartment fire. Her father had s*xually abused her from a young age, and her mother would prostitute herself when money was tight. Bow would hide in the closets during the times that her mother’s clients came over. When Bow was 16, her mother fell out of a second-story window and suffered brain damage. She became psychotic and hostile because of the trauma. Bow looked after her and cared for her, but when Bow was 17, she awoke to her mother holding a knife to her throat. Because of this event, her mother was put into a sanitarium. When Bow’s mother died, reports say that Bow jumped into the grave with her coffin.
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