Being famous of course has plenty of high points. Living the high life, with all the glitz and the glamor, and having all that cash is a fine life if you can get it. Some have worked hard to achieve such a level of fame, whereas others are just famous for being famous, and were basically born into wealth and aristocracy, and never really had any money worries. They may not have to worry about ever being financially destitute, but they certainly have a load of other worries on their minds. Being famous and wealthy, you attract the wrath of those who want to be in your shoes, those who want your cash. That’s one major worry. Consequently, plenty of stars are worried about the threats posed on their families, so they beef up their security. There’s always a threat of lowly characters wanting to get their hands on them, snatch them away, hold them for ransom, anything to extort money from them. This has happened quite a number of times over the years to a number of high profile celebrity figures. They’ve found themselves whisked away and in peril because of their celebrity status.
Such instances of kidnappings are mostly about money. But that hasn’t always been the case. There have been stars who have been kidnapped for the strangest of reasons, perhaps by a deranged, obsessed fan, or an abusive ex. These 15 famous figures are certainly aware of the dangers of fame. Those of them who are still around have probably beefed up their security as a result of their ordeals. These are 15 famous people you probably didn’t know have been in the midst of real life kidnapping situations.
15 Kim Kardashian – Paris Nightmare
In 2016, Kim was in the French capital for Paris Fashion Week. She was in Paris with her sisters, and of course, this caused plenty of fan frenzy, as it always does when the Kardashians are out and about looking fabulous. One night, Kim decided to stay in her hotel room while her sisters went out to one of the after parties. In hindsight, she probably would have wished she joined them, because that’s when the most horrific incident of her life occurred. She was lying in bed, when a gang, posing as police officers, forcibly gained entry to the exclusive hotel. They forced the concierge to open Kim’s door, and when they did, they proceeded to bind and gag Kim with duct tape, before robbing her and leaving her in the bath tub fearing for her life. This may not sound like a kidnapping, but the perpetrators were charged with armed robbery and kidnapping. Kim feared that they were actually going to abduct her; she thought they were terrorists who were there to kidnap her. Kim was eventually freed before fleeing Paris.
14 Alex Band – Dubious Kidnapping
Singer Alex Band achieved a great deal of success with his band The Calling, and he’s since branched out and made the most of the opportunities that have come his way. This includes a bit of acting and plenty of other musical endeavors, and this made him a target. By 2013, Alex had a pretty big profile in the States. He was targeted by kidnappers for his “Hollywood money,” and was subjected to a vicious attack and a violent kidnapping. Alex was in Michigan for a music festival. He was abducted at gunpoint, thrown into a blue van, robbed and beaten severely, before being dumped on train tracks. "I just found out a few weeks ago that I'm going to be a dad. You do not need to go to the extent of killing me and making a child not have a father." That’s what Alex said to the kidnappers, and that’s what saved his life. They kicked him out of the van and left him for dead on the tracks.
13 Jeremy London – A Bizarre Kidnapping Case
American actor Jeremy London was involved in a truly bizarre kidnapping case in 2010. You think of a kidnapping, and you probably think that the star’s been targeted for money, or valuables. You may think a beating’s going to take place, or at least something along those lines. But none of this happened to Jeremy London. He was changing a flat tire by the side of a road, when he was kidnapped by two guys who came over to help. They forced him, at gunpoint, to get into their car, and they then drove him around to different places, forced him to buy alcohol and drugs and then to take them himself. By this point in London’s life, it was well-known that he was an addict. He had major substance abuse problems, and so you can imagine that people were sceptical when news of his kidnapping broke out. Even his family came out and told everyone they thought London was lying. But when the kidnapper was found, he admitted he did kidnap him at gunpoint, although he also said that London got high with them voluntarily. Truly bizarre.
12 Madonna – A Horrific Ordeal
Madonna and Sean Penn were hitched in the 1980s, and to say they had a rocky marriage would be an understatement. They really did have a tumultuous relationship, and it led to one of the most explosive rumors to have ever come out of Hollywood.
Madonna supposedly went through a nine-hour ordeal at the hands of her then-husband in December 1989. On New Year’s Eve, Madonna was found bound, gagged and severely beaten after being held captive by Penn. Reports say that Penn was drunk at the time, causing him to take his usual aggressive tirades to the next level. Supposedly, the star singer was tied up like a Christmas turkey, strapped to a chair, degraded and badly beaten, before she managed to escape her ordeal. There are hospital reports, police reports, statements from friends of the star, that give the impression that this did indeed happen. But Madonna came out years later and denied this ever took place. Perhaps she was covering for Penn, because there were rumors at the time they’d rekindled their romance. Or perhaps it was just sensationalized, and was just a rumor. Perhaps we’ll never know.
11 Benedict Cumberbatch – The Dapper Star Talked His Way To Safety
Today, Benedict Cumberbatch is a major star, one of the best actors to have come out of the UK. Back in 2005, he’d already been around for some time, but was still trying to make a name for himself. He was filming a mini-series for the BBC, To the Ends of the Earth, in South Africa, when he was set upon by a gang of six armed men. Cumberbatch had just been learning to scuba dive along with actress Denise Black and a local friend, and were travelling back to their hotel, when their vehicle suffered a punctured tire. That’s when the gang struck. They tied the three of them up and forced them into the back of their car. They then stopped and attempted to get Cumberbatch into the trunk. But Cumberbatch talked his way out. He told them he had health problems, and putting him in the trunk would probably kill him. They proceeded to lock him in the trunk, but then, after arguing amongst each other, let him out and set the three of them free.
10 George Clooney – Kidnapped In War-Torn Sudan
Ok, so this wasn’t an actual kidnapping per se, but it was certainly a kidnapping ordeal, one that George Clooney was fortunate to escape from unharmed. In 2007, he was in the Sudanese capital, Darfur, filming a documentary on the genocide in the region. Clooney’s known for speaking out on issues he feels strongly about, known for bringing attention to regions of the world that are facing tough times, and that’s what he was doing in 2007. Clooney and his crew’s truck was stopped in the middle of nowhere, and they were all held up at gunpoint. It wasn’t a menacing gang orchestrating the incident. They were held up by a 10-year-old child soldier who then held an AK47 to the star’s head. He ordered them out of the truck, and then more child soldiers appeared, stealing what they could from the vehicle. They attempted to get them back into the truck and drive them away, essentially kidnap them, but then, content with what they had gotten their hands on, they left them and were on their way.
9 Jessica Alba – Fantasy Or Kidnapped?
Here’s another truly bizarre incident, one that happened to Hollywood A-lister Jessica Alba. While down under filming on the sets of Flipper back in the day, Jessica began receiving a load of really strange calls. She thought nothing of it, put it down to a crazed fan, but things soon got very serious. She was abducted from the sets and was missing for around 14 hours. When she was eventually found, she was discovered tied up and gagged in the trunk of a car. The authorities were said to have been a tad miffed. There was no evidence that this was an actual kidnapping. No arrests were made, and when quizzed about the incident, Jessica herself couldn’t give the police any information. The case was cold and was dropped, and it was thought, unofficially of course, that Jessica was involved. The strange incident was put down to the warped teen acting out a kinky kidnapping fantasy – again, unofficially of course – and if you look at her line of work since, it won’t take you long to realize that being kidnapped has been a recurring theme for Jessica. Kinky fantasy or was she actually kidnapped? Only Jessica Alba will know the truth.
8 Thomas "Fats" Waller – Presented As A Gift
Fats Waller was a jazz icon. A pianist, organist, composer, singer, and you can add comedic entertainer to that list too, Fats revolutionized the world of jazz, particularly jazz piano. A rightful inductee into the Grammy Hall of Fame, Fats was taken from the world far too soon – he died in 1943 at the age of 39 – but he left a long-lasting impact, and packed a hell of a lot into one seriously eventful life. But one thing that he’d have wanted to forget is his kidnapping ordeal. We've all heard of the gangster Al Capone, right? Well, his cronies saw Fats, recognized his talent, and in 1926, just after Fats had finished playing at a hotel, he was kidnapped at gunpoint and bundled into a limousine by Capone’s men. He was taken to a saloon, put in front of a piano, and was told to do what he did best. He started playing, and looking around, he saw the gangster Al Capone, who was greatly appreciating his music. After a few days, he was freed and was given a few thousand dollars for his troubles. I reckon that’s one of only a few times someone’s been kidnapped and paid before being set free!
7 Patty Hearst – Teenager In Peril
You hear the name Hearst and you instantly know that this is an important family, with a lot of money. The Hearst family have ruled supreme over the media industry for a hell of a long time, and have acquired a powerful media empire which they’ve held for around a century. The man who’s responsible for it all was the American publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. Being in the position he was, having the influence he did, made him one seriously powerful guy.
The Hearst family were therefore targeted for many different things. But by far the worst thing to happen to the family was when Patty Hearst, William’s granddaughter, was kidnapped in 1974. Patty was just 19 at the time, when she was abducted while studying in university. The left-wing terrorist group that kidnapped her was the Symbionese Liberation Army. It wasn’t just a short kidnapping ordeal either. She was held for 19 months, during which they messed with her head and turned her around to their way of thinking. Patty was brainwashed into taking part in their criminal activities, and even partook in the robbing of a bank, after which she became one of America’s most wanted fugitives. Patty was eventually caught and arrested for her crimes, for which she was later pardoned.
6 Shin Sang-ok – Abducted To Make Films
Say you like Jessica Alba, and you love her films. Would you kidnap her and force her to bring your movie ideas to life? Of course not, although having said that, Jessica’s someone who might actually like being in that situation, like we mentioned earlier.
Shin Sang-ok was a massive star in the movie industry in South Korea. As a film producer and director, he had over 100 film credits to his name, and was regarded to be the king of the South Korean film industry. He was married to his queen, big time actress, Choi Eun-hee.
In 1978, Choi was kidnapped by the soon-to-be dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-il. She was used as bait, and it worked. Shin began his search for her, and six months later he was kidnapped too. He was put up in luxury accommodations, but after trying and failing to escape, he was sent to prison. The reason for their capture was because Kim wanted them to make films. He wanted North Korea to receive recognition from the West as a movie-making powerhouse. They did make many films for Kim, before they eventually managed to escape after years in captivity.
5 Meenakshi Thapar – A Crime That Shocked Bollywood
When news of this incident arose, it really was massive, and received attention on a global scale. That’s because unfortunately, this kidnapping doesn’t have a happy ending.
Meenakshi Thapar was a Bollywood actress who was just making her way into the industry. She made her debut in 2011, after which she continued to get small roles, but acting gigs nevertheless. A year later, she was on the sets of a new movie where she was overheard talking to some people on the sets. Apparently, she was making out like she was really wealthy, like her and her family had a ton of cash and she was living a lifestyle of luxury. An actor who had a minor role in that movie, heard her and together with his girlfriend, hatched a plan to kidnap Meenakshi and hold her for ransom. They did just that, but it turned out, Meenakshi wasn’t the wealthy socialite she was making herself out to be. Her mom managed to scrape together everything she had, but it wasn’t enough. What happened next was grisly to say the least. She was strangled, and then decapitated. Meenakshi’s body was found in a water tank, and her head was found in another area after it had been thrown out of a bus. The two were eventually caught and confessed to everything. The grisly fate of the young star gripped the nation, and Meenakshi’s name will never be forgotten in the Bollywood film industry.
4 Cordelia Gonzalez – Kidnapped At Gunpoint
Cordelia Gonzalez isn’t a massive A-lister, but she can still be considered to be a decent actress. Cordelia’s a Puerto Rican actress who’s appeared in some Hollywood films over the years, so she is a reasonably well-known face within the industry. She certainly had a fanbase and got plenty of attention, attention that she could have done without, because that led to her kidnapping. Cordelia was involved in a kidnapping ordeal in 2005. She’d just left a shopping centre in San Juan, Puerto Rico, when she was pounced upon in the parking lot. The two kidnappers were armed and forced her into their vehicle at gunpoint. They then drove her to an ATM where she was forced to take out a large sum of cash. After that, they transported Cordelia to her house where they robbed her, taking phones, a computer, more cash, and her jewellery, before making off with her car. She was released a few hours after her ordeal.
3 Veruska Ramirez – All They Wanted Was An Autograph
Holder of the Miss Venezuela title and numerous other achievements from the world of beauty pageants, Veruska Ramirez was kidnapped for three hours in 2003. The kidnappers didn’t touch her or harm her in any way, aside from mentally of course.
The kidnappers kidnapped the beauty queen from her car and then went about robbing her blind. She had a load of foreign currency on her, which they took, and they helped themselves to her belongings. Among her belongings was a box of calendars. There were also calendars of Veruska in the nude, and the kidnappers just had to have them. Not only did they take the calendars, they wanted a little memento; they got Veruska to sign every single copy, before making off with them, and leaving her on the street. Apparently, it was a totally random kidnapping. They had no idea who Veruska was, and only asked when they came across those calendars.
2 Cindy Birdsong - Definitely Wasn’t Singing
American singer Cindy Birdsong achieved fame and success as a member of the female singing group The Supremes. She was also a member of Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, and so Cindy’s voice was one that had widespread appeal. R&B, soul, pop, quiet storm, Cindy did it all over a long and illustrious career in the limelight. She’s now in her 70s, and spends her time as a minister. Cindy certainly deserves the chance to wind down slowly and spend her later years in comfort, after what she’s achieved and some of the things she’s been through.
In 1969, when Cindy was a singing sensation, she was bundled into the back of her own car by a lone kidnapper. She was with a couple of friends at the time, and they also went through the ordeal. The kidnapper was waiting in Cindy’s apartment. When the three friends arrived, he forced Cindy to tie up her friends at knifepoint before loading them into her car. When on the highway, Cindy was able to escape her ordeal by unlocking the car door and jumping out onto the road. Four days after the incident, a maintenance man who worked at Cindy’s apartment confessed to the crime when he turned himself in.
1 Frank Sinatra Jr. – Deemed To Be A Publicity Stunt
Frank Sinatra, one of the most influential musical artists of all time, was always going to be a target for unscrupulous fellows looking for a quick buck. One way they could get to Frank, to rattle the great man and get him to pay up, was by getting to his family.
The great man’s son, Frank Sinatra Jr., was also trying to make it in the music industry. He was just 19 in 1963, but was already realizing that it wasn’t going to be easy, that people expected a lot from him, and he had a lot to live up to. I’m writing this, because it’s thought that in order to help his son out, and give him more publicity, Frank Sinatra arranged his kidnapping. This was just a rumor.
After emerging from a restaurant, the young Sinatra was bundled into the trunk of a car and whisked away to be held for ransom. Sr. was ordered to pay $240,000 for his son’s release, which he did, and Jr. was released within a couple of days. The kidnappers were eventually tracked down and Sinatra’s money was returned.