Homeless celebs? At times, the trip from career high to down and out is alarmingly short, and it happens far more often than you think. If you’ve never been rich, then it tends to seem like money would be the solution to all your problems. There’s no denying that available funds are the solution to many an issue, but it’s a mistake to think it would make all your problems go away. Even when you add fame, money, and celebrity together, the real-life stories of celebs who ended up on the street prove that you can lose it all no matter how high up you are in society when you begin.
Addiction and mental health issues can derail any kind of career. But, when you’re a celebrity, that happens in the public eye. While actors and professional athletes seem to have it all, what they don’t have is certainty. The gig that funds your expensive tastes could get pulled out from under you, and then you’re often left with a slow slide into obscurity. Can you really blame anyone for a lack of financial management skills? Instead of just blowing your paycheck one week on the latest electronics, you’re squandering millions on a lavish lifestyle your dwindling career can no longer support. Ouch.
Some of the celebs on our list managed to recover from their low point, at least in part, and go on to more productive and prosperous lives. Other stories have more tragic ends. It’s like your Mom always said: money isn’t everything.
15. Corey Haim
Corey Haim was a genuine star in the 1980s. As a child and teenager, he starred in a run of hits that included Lucas (1986) and The Lost Boys (1987). In many of those movies, he starred alongside Corey Feldman, and the media dubbed them ‘The Two Coreys’ — which ended up as the title of their 2007/8 reality TV series. But the good life as a Hollywood star ended as it often does for child stars when they grow into adulthood. He did continue to work, but nothing came close to his early rise and the millions he made — and spent — back in the day. In 2001, he fell so low that he was trying to sell one of his teeth and a lock of hair on eBay. In March 2010, at the age of 38, he was found unresponsive at his mother’s home in the Burbank area of California. At the time of his death, he was virtually penniless and living with his mother. His death came as a result of pneumonia, with water in his lungs and an enlarged heart, both of which are common symptoms of long-term drug abuse. Corey’s addiction to prescription drugs, which he obtained through a variety of aliases, was well known. After his death, Corey Feldman made the shocking allegation that he and Corey Haim had been “passed around” as children to a group of adult male pedophiles, some of whom were still well known in the movie biz. Whatever the reasons for Haim’s addiction, it was a sad end to what started as such a promising career.
14. Mike Tyson
Whether you’re a fan of Mike Tyson or not, you’d have to acknowledge he’s had a roller-coaster career. He built his reputation as a boxer during the 1980s and 1990s, when he went through the biggest stars of the ring one by one on his way to becoming the youngest heavyweight champion ever. By the time he’d achieved that distinction, he’d made about $300 million. You could say – and Tyson now admits openly in interviews – that it was a series of bad decisions that took all of it away from him. He even ended up in prison for three years during the 1990s on a rape charge. Tyson largely credits strip clubs and drugs for removing the cash from his accounts. He also blames fabled boxing promoter Don King for mismanaging his funds. In the end, though, he was simply spending the millions faster than they came in. He later told reporters that he had spent about two years living on friends’ couches and in homeless shelters, completely broke. He’s climbed back out of that hole since then, however, and has remade himself as a vegan and TV personality, among other things.
13. Natasha Lyonne
New Yorker Natasha Lyonne was modeling as a child and was cast in the TV series Pee-Wee’s Playhouse at age six. By the early 2000s, she was starting to become recognized for her roles in movies like American Pie 2, Slums of Beverly Hills, and Scary Movie 2. It’s probably not a coincidence that life also started to unravel for Natasha at around the same time. Legal problems started to mount, and it was clear her behavior was spinning out of control. The evidence included DUI charges, confrontations, and issues with her neighbors that eventually led to her eviction. In 2005, a reporter for the New York Post found her in a hospital in New York City using a fake name. She was being treated for hepatitis C, a collapsed lung, and a heart infection, most of it stemming from her heroin addiction. She was homeless and in big trouble. But, Natasha is one of the luckier ones who was able to get the help she needed to kick the habit and kick start her career all over again. These days, Natasha co-stars in Orange Is The New Black as Nicky Nichols on Netflix, with several other film and TV projects in the works.
12. Gary Glitter
Schadenfreude is a word that means that sense of satisfaction you feel when someone else fails. It’s a nasty kind of feeling, but in some cases, we feel, it may just be justified, as in the case of Gary Glitter. Paul Francis Gadd, aka Gary Glitter, made a name for himself in the 1980s and 1990s by catching onto the glam rock wave in his native UK. He’s probably best known in North America for his radio hit, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ which came out in 1974. In the UK, he churned out 26 hit singles between 1972 and 1995. But then, his facade of normalcy fell apart. In 1997, he took his laptop in for repairs, and the horrified tech turned him into the police after finding a ginormous amount of child porn on it. He went to jail for a year for it in 1999. After the ensuing scandal, he spent a few years shifting around from place to place with his money dwindling away. He went to live in Cambodia but was deported on suspicion of child abuse. He then went to Vietnam and was eventually deported back to Britain after a Vietnamese court charged and jailed him for obscene acts with minors in 2006. In 2015, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison by a British court. The conviction involved a series of child-sex charges related to his time in the spotlight, when he had abused girls as young as 10, including two he had attacked in a backstage dressing room.
11. Erin Moran
Erin Moran rose to fame and fortune starring as Joanie Cunningham in the hugely popular TV series Happy Days and, briefly, its spin-off, Joanie Loves Chachi, from 1974 to 1984. She’d begun working as a child actor at the age of 5 in 1967, but after the Happy Days run, she pretty much fell off the map when it came to acting. In interviews, she said that depression was one of the reasons she found it difficult to get any acting roles. The millions dwindled away, helped by her reported hard partying and drinking ways. In 2010, she and her husband, Steven Fleischmann, lost their home to foreclosure and moved into a trailer park home owned by her mother-in-law. Further reports in the media claimed that Erin’s drinking had gotten them kicked out of there, too, and they settled eventually in a trailer park in Indiana. In April 2017, her husband woke up to find her unresponsive beside him. She had died in her sleep of stage 4 throat cancer. Family members told the media that Erin had never recovered from the abrupt end of the good life when Happy Days finally ended its long run.
10. Alex Lambert
In 2009, Alex Lambert was living the dream. A singer and songwriter since his teenage years, he’d gotten a ticket to Hollywood Week during the ninth season of American Idol. He recovered from a mixed reception due to nerves in earlier rounds to get as far as the Top 16 round, where his elimination was labeled as shocking by some. About 19,000 fans signed a petition asking for reinstatement of the sweet-voiced country crooner. After AI, there was a stint on If I Can Dream, a web series, performances through 2010, and a couple of songwriting credits for Carly Rae Jepsen and others. He left his native Texas to pursue music in LA, and it’s gone just about as well as the stereotype would lead you to think. In 2011, he Tweeted his predicament: “Ever since IICD ended I’ve been kinda homeless! Sleepin on the street and behind buildings.” He ended up admitting he was on retainer with a production company and working on a few projects, and he backed down a little by Tweeting later that he’d have a home “soon,” but it seems like he’s slid back into obscurity, with no reports of his well-being since then.
9. Sugar Ray Williams
Professional athletes make buckets of cash when they’re young and then never regain that same earning power. Spending it all without being able to earn it back is a trap a lot of them understandably fall into. From 1977 to 1987, Ray Williams built a legendary career in the NBA, much of it playing for the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets. He was also on the 1985 Boston Celtics NBA Finals team. Ray made his name as a physical player. He posted his best season as a guard with the Knicks in 1979-80, averaging 20.9 points per game and 6.2 assists per game. He became Knicks captain during his fourth season in 1980-81. Once he’d retired, though, the money he’d made dwindled away to nothing. After declaring bankruptcy, his wife took the kids and split. Sugar Ray ended up homeless. In 2010, The Boston Globe reported that he was sleeping in the backseat of his 1992 Buick in a Florida beach town, working at odd jobs to make ends meet. Fellow NBA buddies from his stint with the Celtics, including Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, helped him out and got Williams back on his feet. Sadly, he passed away in 2013 of cancer at the age of 58.
8. Amanda Bynes
Pretty blonde Amanda Bynes was a child star, appearing on the Nickelodeon TV series All That and later, The Amanda Show. She made the leap to teen actor status, starring in the sitcom What I Like About You from 2002 to 2006. She had a promising run of several teen-oriented movies from 2003’s What A Girl Wants to Easy A in 2010. Despite her seeming success, though, there were already signs of trouble. In 2011, she was fired from the movie Hall Pass after she showed up to the shoot unprepared — unfortunate, as it was set to be her big transition from teen to adult movies. She also began to collect legal troubles. In April 2012, there was a drunk driving charge and then a hit and run a few days later. For about six months, there were almost daily reports of ever more bizarre antics, including getting photographed sitting in her car with a suspicious-looking pipe in her mouth. For a couple of years, she popped up in the news every once in awhile over yet another bizarre incident, like that time back in 2013 when the cops tried to bust her with pot and claimed she threw her bong out the window. In 2014, she was photographed sleeping on a couch in a Los Angeles shopping mall, apparently homeless. Her parents stepped in, and she’s received psychiatric help. In late June 2017, she emerged from her seclusion to give her first interview in four years. She says she’s ready to go back to acting on TV, and some reports claim she’s banished her parents from her life. We’re hoping she’s back for good.
7. Paula Jai Parker
Actress Paula Jai Parker starred in a string of iconic urban movies including Friday (1995) and co-starred with Terrence Howard in Hustle & Flow (2005) and the musical Idlewild in 2006. She also voiced the role of Trudy Proud in the Disney Channel animated comedy series The Proud Family from 2001 to 2005. After a string of TV appearances, she worked in a number of low-budget indie movies. While they may have been artistically satisfying, they did nothing for her pocketbook. In 2014, she was cast in the TV One reality series Hollywood Divas and shocked both audiences and cast members with her revelation that she’d been homeless for a time. Indie movies don’t pay the bills, and she’d lost the condo she’d bought. She claimed she was living out of a cheap motel room. On the show, Paula claimed she’d been “blackballed” by people she’d once considered friends and found herself out of the Hollywood loop and unable to get back in. These days, she, her husband, and her son seem to be back in a home, at least, with steady work and projects coming down the pipe.
6. Anita Ekberg
Swedish bombshell Anita Ekberg began her career as a model. She became Miss Sweden, and it was as a contestant for Miss Universe in 1951 that she caught the eye of execs at Universal Studios. She was signed on as a starlet but admitted later in life that she skipped most of her acting and drama classes to socialize. She went on to appear in a number of movies, including War and Peace and opposite Bob Hope in Paris Holiday. For many vintage film buffs, her 1960 scene in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, dancing in Rome’s Trevi Fountain with Marcello Mastroianni, is one of the most iconic film scenes of all time. Anita was just as famous for her personal life as for her movie roles, which included highly publicized romances with stars like Frank Sinatra, Yul Brynner, and Errol Flynn. While she continued to work until the early 2000s, the roles became less and less lucrative. In December 2011, it was reported that the then 80-year-old had broken her hip after a fall. During her three-month stay in the hospital, thieves looted her home, which was also damaged in a fire. Unsure of even being able to pay her hospital bill, she had to ask for financial help from the Fellini Foundation. Anita passed away in 2015 from the complications stemming from a number of long-term illnesses.
5. Willie Aames
Willie Aames was a child star, appearing in a number of popular TV series from age 11 onwards. He hit it big in 1977, when he landed a role on the sitcom Eight is Enough, a gig that lasted until 1981. Then, in 1984, he hit the jackpot again with a starring role on Charles in Charge that lasted until 1990. For more than a decade, he wasn’t just a TV star; he was a national heartthrob and made over $1 million a year — a lot of money at the time. Then, at 30 years old, the gravy train ended. For years, he struggled, eventually landing a starring role in a direct-to-video series called Bibleman that last lasted a surprising 8 years from 1995 to 2003. By 2008, however, he’d hit rock bottom. Divorced twice, he also found himself homeless and has admitted since then that he had spent a lot of time on friends’ couches and, when he couldn’t find one, underneath the bushes in a public park. By 2010, he’d studied to become a financial adviser, got off the street, and nowadays, apparently works as a cruise ship director.
4. Danny Bonaduce
Danny Bonaduce was the son of an established TV writer and producer, and that’s how the then adorable ginger kid with the freckles ended up starring on the hugely popular TV series The Partridge Family from 1970 to 1974. After that, while he made guest appearances on a number of TV series, he said in later interviews that between 1974 and 1988, he worked a total of only 20 weeks as an actor. In the late 1980s, he turned to radio, snagging shows on a series of stations. Danny!, a syndicated TV talk show, ran during the 1995-96 season. Drugs were a problem for Danny throughout the 1970s and 1980s, leading to a few arrests for cocaine possession and one in 1991 for beating up a trans sex worker. He ended up homeless and living out of his car at one point, and in interviews, he describes signing autographs and taking pictures with fans who had no idea he lived beside a dumpster near LA’s famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Danny eventually turned his misfortunes into career fuel, including a reality show on VH1 called Breaking Bonaduce in 2005, documenting the demise of his tumultuous second marriage and several other reality TV projects. He’s also back on the radio and can be heard as “Life Coach” and on the Danny Bonaduce And Sarah Morning Show on KZOK 102.5FM in Seattle. Danny credits his third wife, Amy, with turning his life around.
3. Brett Butler
Brett Butler began her career as a stand-up comic and writer, steadily building up a reputation. She eventually got enough of a name for herself that she landed her own show on ABC called Grace Under Fire. The weekly sitcom was popular and ran from 1993 to 1998, but during her most successful period, she was also battling a serious drug addiction. In an interview, she said, “I did everything but crack and needles, pretty much,” apparently, including a number of prescription drugs. By 1998, her erratic behavior on the set was a daily occurrence, and she was fired from her own series by producers. Her marriage fell apart, and she was in and out of rehab. Butler moved out of her Hollywood mansion and bought a farm in Georgia with a number of animals, but by 2011, she was bankrupt and living in a homeless shelter. A recurring role as a bartender on Charlie Sheen‘s Anger Management series from 2012 to 2014 seems to have turned things around for her, at least to a degree, and she’s had a series of minor roles on TV since then.
2. Sylvester Stewart – Sly Stone
Sylvester Stewart, aka Sly Stone, was born into a musical family and was a talented child prodigy. He was playing the keys by age seven and added guitar, drums, and bass by the time he was eleven. He performed in various groups during his teens and worked as a disc jockey and record producer before forming Sly and the Family Stone in 1967, featuring his sisters on backup vocals, and a multi-racial roster that was rare for the time. It’s not an exaggeration to call them pioneers of the funk/RnB/psychedelic/rock fusion that became a huge influence on later artists like Prince, with hits like ‘Everyday People,’ ‘Stand!,’ and ‘Dance to the Music.’ As they toured and became more famous by the early 1970s, though, tensions within the band and drug and alcohol use began to take their toll. Between 1969 and 1971, the band only recorded one single. They began to earn a reputation for unreliability, showing up late, drunk, stoned, or, in Sly’s case, leaving early or not showing up at all. The gigs started to dry up, and the band disintegrated. By 2009, a documentary showed Sly living in poverty out of the back of a van. There was some hope when he launched and won a lawsuit against former managers for mismanagement of his funds. He was awarded $5 million in 2015, only to see the courts rule that he’d already assigned that money to a management company on an appeal later that year. Not ready to give up, the 74-year-old launched yet another appeal and was granted the right to a new trial in July 2016.
1. John Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore has talked publicly about the addictions and crazy drug-addled childhood that she’s had to overcome. The Barrymore story is often a family history of addiction that includes her father, John Drew Barrymore. It’s tough to live up to the family reputation when your father is noted actor John Barrymore and your aunt and uncle are Ethel and Lionel Barrymore, who all became screen legends in the early 20th century. In fact, his parents split up when he was only 18 months old, and he claimed he’d rarely ever seen his father. Still, he started in movies at age 17 and appeared in a number of low-budget American and Italian movies, along with a recurring role on the TV series Gunsmoke. But his behavior was unraveling and becoming more and more of a problem. There were arrests during the 1960s for drugs, public drunkenness, and even spousal abuse. In 1966, he was slated for a guest role on Star Trek and just didn’t show up for the shoot, forcing producers to make a last-minute replacement. Father John Barrymore, whom he’d had little contact with throughout his life, had also suffered from addictions and mental health issues. John Drew was known to disappear for weeks or even months, living on the street, eventually showing up in jail on drug or other charges. Even though he’d deserted her mother and they’d been estranged for decades, Drew Barrymore moved him close to her home in 2003 when he became ill with cancer and paid for his medical bills until his death in 2004.
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