These days, we’re all a little obsessed with celebrities. Don’t take that the wrong way, obviously, most of you don’t take it to the extreme and let it take over your life. But many of us are totally surrounded by celebrity culture. Hell, we know more about celebrities than we do many of our friends. Considering that we’ve never met these celebs in person, that’s bordering on strange. For us, however, the word obsessed is probably inaccurate. Greatly interested might be more acceptable. The truly obsessed fans take their interests to another level. Psychologists have even created a term for celebrity obsessions, naming the affliction “celebrity worship syndrome.” Throughout the years, we’ve seen a number of examples of obsessed fans, and some led to tragic outcomes.
When we think about obsessed fans who did something drastic, many use the example of John Lennon‘s killer, Mark David Chapman, but Chapman wasn’t really a fan of Lennon. Sure, he was a fan of The Beatles in the mid to late ’60s, but he spent most of his time hating Lennon, especially after Lennon said that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus” in 1966, only a couple years after the band became international stars. What we’re looking at here are all the stars who had their lives changed, ruined, or even ended by crazed fans. These are the most shocking of all the encounters stars have had with people who call themselves fans. Here are 15 Stars Who Had Their Life Ruined by an Obsessed Fan.
Honestly, we debated whether or not to include Bjork on this list because, after all that happened with her unstable fan/stalker, Ricardo Lopez, she reacted extremely positively. At least, in public, she did. In 1993, Lopez, who had exhibited signs of celebrity worship syndrome before, became attached to the Icelandic singer. Around this time, he started a diary that would cover the next three years and document much of his descent into madness. Things changed from bad to worse in 1996 when Lopez read an article that mentioned Bjork was dating singer Goldie. Lopez was infuriated with this relationship and set a plan in place to kill or disfigure Bjork with a mail bomb containing acid. It was then that Lopez started his video diary, capturing his creation of the bomb and his eventual death. The plan was to kill Bjork and kill himself, then reuniting with Bjork in heaven. Luckily, police found Lopez’s dead body and the video diaries which led them to find the mail bomb before it reached its target. Although Bjork handled it very well, she was distressed afterward and did hire private security for her young son, saying, “I was very upset that somebody had died. I couldn’t sleep for a week. And I’d be lying if I said it didn’t scare the f**k out of me. That I could get hurt and, most of all, that my son could get hurt.”
14. Jodie Foster
Many know the story of John Hinckley Jr. by now. It’s one of the most famous celebrity obsession tales in history; perhaps the most famous. Hinckley Jr. first became obsessed with actress Jodie Foster after seeing her as the child prostitute in Taxi Driver. Years later, when Foster attended Yale, Hinckley Jr. moved near the school in order to stalk her, sending her letters, calling her on the phone, and following her. In 1981, Hinckley devised a plan to assassinate then-President Ronald Reagan. Hinckley sent Foster a note that read, “Over the past seven months, I’ve left you dozens of poems, letters, and love messages in the faint hope that you could develop an interest in me. Although we talked on the phone a couple of times, I never had the nerve to simply approach you and introduce myself…. The reason I’m going ahead with this attempt now is because I cannot wait any longer to impress you.”
Although the plan failed, Reagan and three others were injured, including press secretary James Brady, who was disabled permanently in the shooting. Ever since, Foster has avoided talking about the events, saying that she does not “like to dwell on it too much […] I never wanted to be the actress who was remembered for that event. Because it didn’t have anything to do with me. I was kind of a hapless bystander. But […] what a scarring, strange moment in history for me, to be 17 years old, 18 years old, and to be caught up in a drama like that.”
13. Joni Mitchell
For Joni Mitchell, it wasn’t just one stalker who drastically changed her life but many. Later, Mitchell said she suffered from what she called a “personal chronic situations of tension.” She said that she’s had a constant paranoia because of these obsessed fans, saying, “stalker after stalker after stalker in my yard. A lot of Manson-type butcherous stalkers. I’m the night watchman. I can’t sleep until it’s light outside. I am scared of the dark.” Yet, while there were many, Mitchell has told of one stalker who camped outside her home for four years. Mitchell hired an armed guard to standby 24 hours a day. Two days after John Lennon was killed, the stalker left. Mitchell believes that this reminded the obsessed fan how bad it can get.
12. Andy Lau
In America, Andy Lau might not be the biggest star, but in Hong Kong, there really isn’t a larger name. For about 20 years, Lau was Hong Kong’s biggest actor, starring in massive films such as Infernal Affairs, the film that The Departed is a remake of. Lau has always dealt with very possessive fans. However, in 2007, things got crazy. For 13 years, Yang Lijuan was obsessed with Lau. She was infatuated and made it her quest to be with him. Her father had spent everything he had, including his home, to pay for his daughter’s dreams of meeting Lau as many times as possible. He even tried to sell a kidney. When Lau heard about this, he rebuked the girl, saying what she was doing was not right. Then, Lijuan set up another meeting to show Lau that she wasn’t selfish. The father, however, learned that his daughter would not get personal time with the actor, so he killed himself, leaving behind a 12-page letter essentially blaming Lau. Afterward, Lau has said that this caused him great mental anguish. He took time off acting and says that he is still haunted by it all.
11. David Letterman
Beginning in 1988, David Letterman was constantly harassed by a fan named Margaret Mary Ray. For 10 years, Ray tormented Letterman, stealing his car, breaking into his house several times, and camping out on his property. The obsession ended when she committed suicide in 1998. Although Letterman often joked about the situation, it was a trying time for him. Still, he never pressed charges and never said her name publicly. Over the decade of stalking Letterman, Ray spent 34 months in jail and psychiatric hospitals for her crimes.
10. Catherine Zeta-Jones
In the early 2000’s, Dawnette Knight became obsessed with actor Michael Douglas. In order to be with him, the stalker decided that she needed to kill his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones. For some time, Knight stalked, called, and sent threatening letters to Zeta-Jones, telling the family crazed things like, “We are going to slice her up like meat on a bone and feed her to the dogs.” In Zeta-Jones’ testimony, she said, she lived in constant fear because “I’ve never in my life had anything or had anyone say anything to me so satanic.” Knight told police that she and Douglas had an affair and that Douglas paid her off to keep quiet.
9. Steven Spielberg
In 1998, Steven Spielberg was informed that police had apprehended a man outside his home, an alleged stalker. Spielberg, who was shooting Saving Private Ryan at the time, was told that the stalker had been caught carrying handcuffs, duct tape, and a box cutter. In his car nearby, there were more handcuffs, razor blades, a map to Spielberg’s home, and a notebook with pictures of the Spielberg family, including his seven children. When questioned, the man, Johnathan Norman, said that he was s*xually attracted to Spielberg and planned to rape him. In court, Spielberg said the man “frightened” him because “no one before has ever come into my life in a way to do me harm.” The director testified against the stalker, saying, “I didn’t want this individual to put me or my family through the anguish, the nightmares I’ve had because of this.”
8. Yunho Of TVXQ
In South Korean culture, there is a word for the type of obsessed fans we’re dealing with here. They are called sasaeng fans, a word that means “private life.” Although there have been many examples of sasaeng fans losing their minds and hurting others, the most serious account probably comes from a fan of the band TVXQ, a K-pop group. One of the members, Yunho was on a variety show in 2006 when a fan gave him a drink with superglue in it. He was rushed to the hospital and had his stomach pumped. Although Yunho did not press charges against this psychopath, he did say that the event traumatized him.
7. Michael J. Fox
You might not know the name Tina Marie Ledbetter, but she’s one obsessive fan. In the late ’80s, when Michael J. Fox was on Family Ties, Ledbetter became obsessed with actor, writing and sending nearly 6,000 letters to him. Some were harmless. Some, like the envelopes with only rabbit droppings, were strange. But some were horribly threatening. When discussing the letters in court, Fox said that Ledbetter “changed my lifestyle extensively.” He had to hire extra security, change his name when he traveled, and have bodyguards with him and his family at all times. Many of the letters threatened Fox’s wife and children too, such as one that read, “You are a total (expletive) for marrying Tracy!… Divorce Tracy or you are dead! I am coming after you with a gun and I am going to kill you if you don’t divorce Tracy immediately!” Another letter was written when Tracy was pregnant, reading, “I’m going to kill you and that (expletives) b***h and that (expletives) baby!” Ledbetter was ordered to receive psychiatric help and three years of probation.
6. Christina Grimmie
Most music fans were first introduced to Christina Grimmie on season six of The Voice. Grimmie was a finalist and ended up coming third. She would sign a record deal shortly after the show ended. In June of 2016, Grimmie had just performed on a show in Orlando, Florida and was signing autographs for fans, when Kevin James Loibl, an infatuated fan, shot her four times, killing the young singer, and then shot and killed himself. A friend of Loibl said that the crazed fan lost weight, had eye surgery, and got hair plugs, all in an effort to impress Grimmie.
5. Selena Quintanilla-Pérez
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was one of the most celebrated Mexican-American celebrities of all time. She did it all. She was a singer, a model, an actress, and a designer. Yolanda Saldívar was a friend and was in charge of Selena’s fan club and, more importantly, she was named manager of Selena’s boutiques. Over the next year, there were numerous reports of Saldivar’s mismanagement and embezzlement. Selena disregarded most of these claims. After an interview in early 1995, some reporters even noted that Saldivar was seemingly obsessed with Selena. Family members even tried to stop Saldivar from seeing Selena, but Selena trusted her. When Selena finally brought some of the accusations up with Saldivar, the woman claimed that she was raped to change the subject. After a hospital proved that her claim was false, Selena emptied Saldivar’s purse to see if there was any proof. The purse contained a gun. Saldivar quickly grabbed the weapon and shot Selena as she ran away. Selena, wounded, fled from Saldivar and was chased, but she eventually collapsed and died.
4. Dimebag Darrell
Dimebag Darrell (Darrell Abbott) was best known for co-founding the band Pantera. After years of turmoil within the band throughout the ’90s, Pantera took a hiatus in 2001 and formally disbanded in 2003. Dimebag Darrell and his brother formed Damageplan, a band in the same vein as Pantera. In 2004, while performing in Columbus, Ohio, former Marine Nathan Gale, shot and killed Abbott and three others. The killer was said to be a former fan of Pantera who was distraught about the band’s split, possibly blaming Abbott. Another possible explanation is that Gale illogically believed Pantera stole his lyrics.
3. Gene Tierney
The sad story of Gene Tierney is one that has been largely forgotten by today’s fans, even though Agatha Christie wrote a book based on the events, The Mirror Crack’d. The tale was generated from Tierney’s biography. Apparently, when the actress was pregnant, she came down with German Measles (Rubella). Tierney believed she contracted it while appearing at the famous Hollywood Canteen. Sadly, Tierney’s daughter was born prematurely because of the disease. She was also deaf, partially blind, and developmentally disabled. Years later, Tierney was signing an autograph for fans when a female fan told her a while back that she had broken quarantine to see Tierney at the Hollywood Canteen. She was sick with Rubella at the time.
2. Theresa Saldana
Theresa Saldana is likely best known for playing Rachel Scali on The Commish or Joe Pesci‘s character’s wife in Raging Bull. Saldana became national news after a fan, Arthur Richard Jackson, became obsessed with her after seeing her performances in Defiance and Raging Bull. In 1982, Jackson hired a private detective to find out Saldana’s mother’s phone number. He got it, called the mother, all the while pretending to be Martin Scorsese‘s assistant, and learned Saldana’s address. Jackson then traveled to Saldana’s residence with a knife. When he saw her come out of her home, he stabbed her 10 times, bending the blade in the attack. Luckily, a deliveryman, Jeff Fenn, saw the attack and subdued Jackson. Saldana survived and Jackson was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Years after the incident, Jackson wrote Saldana threatening letters from prison.
1. Rebecca Schaeffer
Rebecca Schaeffer was an actress who played Patricia “Patti” Russell in My Sister Sam and had roles in a few films. But sadly, Schaeffer is known best for having her life cut short by an obsessed fan, Robert John Bardo. Bardo, who was known to obsess over celebrities in the past, got latched onto Schaeffer after seeing her in My Sister Sam. He wrote her numerous letters and even had one responded to (by a third party). In 1987, Bardo traveled to L.A. to try and meet Schaeffer, but he was turned away at the studios. A month later, he returned with a knife but was again turned away. This last rejection seemed to cause Bardo to lose interest, as he became obsessed with some others. However, after he saw Schaeffer in bed with a man in one of her films, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, Bardo traveled back to L.A. This time, he got her home address from a private detective and knocked on her door. At first, Schaeffer spoke with him, although she told him not to come back. Bardo left, had breakfast, and then returned an hour later. When he knocked and Schaeffer opened the door, Bardo pulled out a gun and shot her dead.
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