As Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.” The same can be said for fame, which can be as fleeting as time. Just because one is famous now does not mean they are guaranteed to still be popular a few years later. Staying relevant in this day and age has become a lot more difficult, as trends change faster than we change our bed sheets. But despite how volatile the entertainment industry is, artists from all fields continue to chase or retain fame. Sometimes, when these has-been celebs chase fame so desperately, it ruins their lives and their reputations even more.
Unfortunately for them, however, fame is a double-edged sword that can take them to places they never could have imagined, and can also thrust them into obscurity the moment they make a wrong move or fail to keep up with the cutthroat industry. Plus, with the advent of the internet, it has become easy for people to dig up dirt on the has-beens and use their discoveries against these celebrities. But it doesn’t have to be anything from the past — even one simple mistake in the present could ruin a celebrity’s career. Sometimes, celebs destroy their own careers by making bad decisions. Other times, celebs simply fade into obscurity and can no longer find work. Without further ado, here are 15 celebrities who were at one point the highest earning celebrities in Hollywood, but have succumbed to the ever-changing landscape of the entertainment industry.
15. Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan used to be the ultimate entertainer. She could both act and sing. The actress successfully launched her career in 1998 with The Parent Trap. Her acting was so convincing many people actually believed that Lohan had a twin. Many years later, she came out with another successful film, Freaky Friday and then followed it up with the most quotable film ever, Mean Girls. After starring in Herbie: Fully Loaded in 2005, she then transitioned into the music scene in the mid-2000s. However, her road to success was derailed when in 2007, she was put on probation after two DUI incidents and several rehab stints. This caused film and music producers to veer away from her. Since then, the actress and singer has either refrained from joining any film or musical projects, or she hasn’t been able to find work. Most recently, she spoke out in support of s*xual predator Harvey Weinstein, putting her once again in a bad light, given the allegations against him.
14. Mischa Barton
British-American actress Mischa Barton is best known as Kyra Collins in the 1999 film The Sixth Sense and Marissa Cooper in the teen drama series The O.C., which ran from 2004 to 2007. Since then, she’s starred in under-the-radar films such as Starcrossed, American Beach House, Deserted and Executor. She’s achieved relatively modest success with these projects, but she didn’t make as much money as she used to. In fact, from a net worth of $16 million in 2015, she’s only worth $1 million now, which, according to celebrity standards, isn’t that great. Most recently, she filed a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend who threatened to release her private tape. In the case, the actress claimed that she was filmed without her consent. Barton fought back with a revenge p*rn lawsuit directed at her ex-boyfriend, who complied with the court order to refrain from releasing the tape.
13. Ja Rule
Born Jeffrey Edward Atkins, Ja Rule first made it big in 1999, when he teamed up with pop artists Jennifer Lopez for “Ain’t It Funny” and Christina Milian for “Between Me and You.” He immediately followed it up with a collaboration with the singer Ashanti on “Always on Time” and “Mesmerize,” positioning him as one of the most promising rappers of the decade. It all came to a halt in 2011, however, when Ja Rule was sentenced to two years in prison, after a gun possession case in which he pleaded guilty. He was released in 2013. In 2017, he was once again linked to a scandal after the “luxury concert” called Fyre Festival failed to meet expectations. The rapper’s last major musical contribution was to the Hamilton soundtrack, which reunited him with Ashanti.
12. Amanda Bynes
Former child star Amanda Bynes made a name for herself during the 1990s with the Nickelodeon series All That and The Amanda Show, as well as What I Like About You, which ran from 2002 to 2006. The actress also had a film career, starring in movies such as Big Fat Liar in 2002, What a Girl Wants in 2003, She’s the Man in 2006 and Hairspray in 2007. She even appeared with Emma Stone in Easy A in 2010. But her career came to a screeching halt when in 2012, she was charged with a DUI case. It’s really crazy how one small mistake can lead to the ruin of one’s career. A year later, she was hospitalized for mental health issues and since then had flown under the radar. In 2017, Bynes announced that she’s heading back to work and is looking to star in a TV series.
11. Pamela Anderson
Despite launching into worldwide superstardom alongside David Hasselhoff in the 1990s hit Baywatch, Pamela Anderson never quite made it big after portraying C.J. Parker in the show. She made a lot of money from the series, but since she never got another big role, her net worth eventually dropped. She hasn’t been doing much acting except for a small role in this year’s Dwayne Johnson movie Baywatch. Anderson has been keeping it low-key through the years with appearances in TV series such as King of the Hill, Less Than Perfect, 8 Simple Rules and Kath & Kim. She’s also been in some TV movies here and there, but she’s now more focused on living a private life in France, where she maintains an official website and regularly writes about her experiences. She’s mom to 21-year-old Brandon and 19-year-old Dylan, and is the current partner of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
10. Chris Tucker
Actor and comedian Chris Tucker has several good films to his name, including Brett Ratner‘s Rush Hour series, in which he played Detective James Carter. He also appeared in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element, Quentin Tarantino‘s Jackie Brown and David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook. In 2011, Tucker’s $6 million Florida mansion was foreclosed because of the $4.4 million bank debt he had accumulated. The home was a sprawling 10,000-sq ft waterfront home on Lake Apopka, and boasted of five bedrooms, a spa, outdoor kitchen and an opulent basement that was designed to resemble a pirate ship. Tucker reportedly had a $11.5 million IRS lien and a monthly mortgage of $25,812.50. A once-promising actor who could’ve been an A-lister, Tucker is no longer swimming in riches. He was rumored to reprise his role as James Carter in Rush Hour 4, so there’s still a chance he might bounce back.
9. Janice Dickinson
Janice Dickinson made a name for herself as a model back in the 1970s and 1980s. In the early 2000s, she came back into the spotlight, taking the role of a judge on America’s Next Top Model. This helped launched her own reality series in 2006 entitled The Janice Dickinson Modelling Agency, which ran for four seasons and was not renewed by the Oxygen Network. Dickinson insists that she is the “first supermodel,” despite the term being used to describe Twiggy back in the 1960s. She remained relatively under the radar in the last few years, except for appearances in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, 90210 and Celebrity Big Brother. You’d expect someone who’s claiming to be the first supermodel to have a lot of money in the bank, but that’s not really true for Dickinson, who only has a net worth of $500,000.
8. Aaron Carter
Backstreet Boy Nick Carter‘s younger brother Aaron Carter tried to make a name for himself in the late 90s, delving into the pop music scene to follow in the footsteps of his sibling. He was extremely successful for a short while, and according to him, he made more than $200 million before he turned 18. But his singing career didn’t really last, and so he tried to pursue acting and got involved in reality TV with House of Carters in the mid-2000s. After a series of huge financial mistakes, Carter filed for bankruptcy in 2013, having accumulated around $3.5 million in debt by then. 2017 was another tough year for the singer, who got arrested for marijuana possession, broke up with his girlfriend, Madison Parker, came out as bis*xual and battled health issues that forced him to enter rehab in September. He has since left rehab and gained 40lbs in his effort to maintain a healthy weight.
7. Gary Busey
Gary Busey is a highly prolific actor who launched his career in showbiz in the late 1980s. He appeared in Lethal Weapon, Predator 2, Under Siege and Point Break, and also appeared as a guest star in TV series such as Law & Order, Entourage and Scrubs. In 2003, he starred in Comedy Central’s I’m with Busey, which ran for just one season. In 2014, he won Celebrity Big Brother 14. You’d think that someone with such a long history in the Hollywood industry would be a multi-millionaire by now, but apparently that’s not always the case, as Busey has a shockingly low net worth of $500,000. Yes, you’re probably richer than he is. Lately, he’s been vocal about his political opinions. Busey hasn’t been involved in major projects since his DWTS stint, which may explain his low net worth.
Born Earl Simmons, DMX launched his rap career in the 1990s, which spawned the best-selling rap album … And Then There Was X in 1999. It was followed by four more records in 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2012. Unfortunately, his success didn’t come without major offences. In 2000, he served a two-week jail sentence for possession of marijuana, an offence he repeated a year later. He finally entered rehab in 2002, which is the same year he pleaded guilty to 13 counts of animal cruelty, along with other offences involving drug possession. Just two years later, he was once again arrested for criminal possession of a weapon and cocaine, as well as a carjacking attempt. In 2017, he was slapped with 14 tax fraud cases for up to $1.7 million in unpaid taxes. All these bad decisions, as well as some financial mistakes, have caused him to lose all the money he made from his albums.
5. MC Hammer
Born Stanley Kirk Burrell, hip-hop artist MC Hammer broke out in 1990 with the hit “U Can’t Touch This.” Hammer earned the Best R&B Song and Best Rap Solo Performance Grammy Awards in 1991. His fame led him to more ventures, such as a book deal with Simon & Schuster, which fell through in 2002. He also transitioned into the web business, starting a Menlo Park-based company called DanceJam.com, which later closed in 2011 after receiving $4.5 million in total equity funding. Hammer admitted that his financial struggles were due to his personal luxuries, which cost him a $13 million debt. In 2002, he was denied a bankruptcy discharge. He continued to face unpaid tax issues from 2011 to 2015, which was eventually resolved, as per Broke & Famous.
4. Wesley Snipes
Wesley Snipes is best known as the Marvel character Blade in David S. Goyer’s Blade film trilogy that launched in 1998 and concluded in 2004. In 2006, the actor was involved in a fraud case that accused him of filing false tax refund claims of over $11 million. Although he was acquitted in 2008, Snipes was still slapped with a tax evasion case and was sentenced to three years in prison in 2010. He was released in April 2013. Between 2005 and 2012, Snipes limited his projects to Direct-to-DVD films and made his first major appearance in Patrick Hughes’ The Expendables 3, in which he played Doctor Death. In 2017, he produced and starred in the action-horror film Armed Response, which was directed by John Stockwell. Snipes has yet to make a big comeback.
3. Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson is arguably one of the most popular boxers globally, but his success didn’t come without some major pitfalls. In 1997, he showed a temper while fighting Evander Holyfield in the ring, where Tyson got upset and bit Holyfield’s ear. Tyson was disqualified. In 1991, he was found guilty of r*ping Desiree Washington and was sentenced to six years in jail. He only served less than three years and was released in 1995. In 2005, Tyson quit boxing because he claimed he had lost his passion for it. In 2007, he pleaded guilty to drug possession and driving under the influence. Despite earning over $300 million in his illustrious career, Tyson filed for bankruptcy in 2003, during which he had a $23 million debt. It’s a known fact that athletes have a tendency to go broke after having made so much money, and it seems Tyson exemplifies this fact.
Born David Adkins, Sinbad achieved success with the 1991 Stan Dragoti-directed film Necessary Roughness, as well as Houseguest, First Kid, Jingle All the Way and Good Burger. The comedian and actor, who once served in the United States Air Force and had a hit sitcom titled A Different World, experienced financial troubles beginning in 2009, when he became one of the biggest tax debtors in the state of California. At the time, he owed about $2.5 million in personal income tax. In 2011, his debt grew to $8.15 million and he was forced to give up one of his homes to the IRS. Sinbad remains positive that he will overcome his financial struggles with his wife, Meredith, and two kids, 31-year-old Paige and 28-year-old Royce. Considering how famous he once was, it is shocking to see how much financial trouble he is now. Clearly, even celebrities at the top of their fame need to be more careful with their money.
1. Dennis Rodman
Who could forget the man with the most colorful hair on the NBA court? Dennis Rodman, the professional basketball player who is now retired, played for teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. Following his basketball career, he transitioned to reality TV with Celebrity Apprentice, during which he was struggling with alcohol abuse. He was later convinced to enter rehab. His struggles did not end there, however, as in 2016, Rodman was charged with hit-and-run and misdemeanor charges in California. He made headlines when he personally visited North Korea and met with Kim Jong-un, calling the North Korean leader “a friend for life.” He also took it upon himself to be the bridge between two conflicting nations. As of 2017, Rodman has a net worth of negative $1 million.
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