Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., John Besh, Nick Carter, Richard Dreyfuss, Brett Ratner, George Takei, John Lasseter, Jeffrey Tambor, James Toback, Gary Goddard, Matthew Weiner, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Knepper, Jeremy Piven, Chris Savino, Steven Seagal, Tom Sizemore, Russell Simmons, Ed Westwick, Matt Lauer, and Charlie Rose. This is just a PARTIAL list of all the male celebrities who have had allegations of “misconduct” (either harassment or assault) laid against them since the New York Times published an article detailing the myriad accusations against film producer Harvey Weinstein in October of this year, which seemed to open the proverbial floodgates. And this list does not even include men accused who are journalists, sports administrators (IOC member Alex Gilady and former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, etc.), or politicians. Nor does this list include those who have longstanding allegations that predate this past October (Bill Cosby).
It must be stated that at this point, no criminal charges have been laid at the time of writing, although some investigations are ongoing. Some of the men have admitted to some or all of the accusations against them, while others deny the allegations. So, a few could be innocent. This is truly a unique moment in our cultural history. But celebrity scandal is by no means unique. While the allegations against some of these men are so heinous, it’s difficult to see them ever coming back into the limelight. For others, with genuine sorrow and responsibility, they could make a comeback. To see how, let us look at how eight other celebrities whose careers have survived a major scandal and seven who failed to do so.
15. Career Died: Paul Reubens
It seems cruel and unfair that Mike Tyson can have a successful career and yet Paul Reubens can’t. To be fair, the comedian best known for portraying Pee-wee Herman probably has a better career now than anybody could have imagined in the 1990’s. In 1991, Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure after pleasing himself in an adult film theater in Sarasota, Florida. Reubens retreated from the public eye at this point. He didn’t do talk shows for years, reruns of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse were cancelled, his toys were pulled from Toys R’ Us, and his name became the punchline of many jokes. And, unlike Louis C.K., he was not doing it purposefully in front of any women, although it was in a public theater. A few celebrities spoke out on behalf of Reubens at the time, including Bill Cosby. That’s great…
The fact that Reubens still has cameos in shows and movies and even starred in a 2016 Netflix revival of the Pee-Wee character in Pee-wee’s Big Holiday is a sign that his career has recovered a bit. But he’s still the butt end of a joke in many people’s minds.
14. Career Survived: Winona Ryder
It’s hard to fathom right now, but at one point, Winona Ryder’s career was assumed to be over. Ryder was convicted of grand theft, shoplifting, and vandalism after a 2001 shoplifting incident at Saks Fifth Avenue. Her career had been trending downward since her late 80’s to early 90’s heyday. Many assumed that Ryder would go down as another young actress who made it big and struggled with mental health and faded into obscurity. The idea of a Hollywood actress committing the plebeian crime of shoplifting struck many as humorous.
Ryder has since explained that she was dealing with depression at the time and that the painkillers she was on, prescribed by a doctor who had since has his medical license revoked, caused her erratic behavior. She gradually rebuilt her career and found huge success with her roles in 2009’s Star Trek, 2010’s Black Swan, and the 2016 Netflix smash hit Stranger Things. It also helps that she hardly seems to have aged at all over her 30-year career.
13. Career Died: Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan’s case is a bit different from many of the celebs on this list. It’s not so much that scandal has killed Lohan’s career, but rather, the underlying cause that has caused scandal seems poised to ruin her career and sadly, even her life. Lindsay Lohan has had multiple Driving Under the Influence (DUI) incidents and multiple stints in rehab. She definitely seems to have a substance abuse problem. Lohan’s drug issues either contribute to or are a result of (or both) what seems to be a mental health problem. Lohan’s erratic behavior is distressing to witness and has severely halted her career’s progress. At this point, she is not nearly as successful nor acclaimed as many thought she would be back in 2004 after Mean Girls. If Lohan can’t straighten things out soon, she seems doomed to become another child star whose life spiraled out of control.
12. Career Survived: Drew Barrymore
If Lohan can take a page from anybody’s book, let’s hope it’s Drew Barrymore’s. As a member of the famed acting family, the Barrymores, Drew shot to international stardom as a child for her role in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial in 1982. She starred in a few other successful films in the 80’s but she received more press for her troubled personal life. She developed a drug problem and had to attend rehab as a teenager. By the age of 20, she was posing for Playboy. Seemingly the archetypal child star gone bad, Barrymore suddenly turned things around with roles in successful films such as Scream, The Wedding Singer, Charlie’s Angels, and Donnie Darko. Her problems seemingly well behind her, Barrymore became one the imminent A-List stars of the late 90’s and 2000’s.
11. Career Died: Crispin Glover
David Letterman put up with a lot. Apart from Drew Barrymore, Jerry ‘the King’ Lawler attacking Andy Kaufman on his show in the early 80’s, as well as his own scandal years later involving him being blackmailed, Letterman also had to put up with an infamous appearance by Crispin Glover. Glover appeared on Late Night with David Letterman on July 28, 1987 to promote his film Riverside. It didn’t go well. Glover appeared in character, not as a character from Riverside, but as Rubin from the yet-unreleased Rubin and Ed. Glover had a hostile interaction with a woman in the audience (who was possibly a plant), challenged Letterman to an arm-wrestling match, and then delivered a kick that missed Letterman’s head by mere inches. Letterman then walked off the set and ended the interview.
The infamous interview has spawned many rumors. How much, if anything, did Letterman know about it beforehand? Was Glover high on LSD? Whatever the causes, Glover’s career has been inconsistent at best since then. The man who seemed destined for the A-list as George McFly in Back to the Future is now mostly known as one of Hollywood’s weirder individuals.
10. Career Survived: Robert Downey, Jr.
Younger readers may not know Robert Downey Jr. as anything other than Iron Man. Apart from his turns as Tony Stark, beginning with 2008’s Iron Man, Downey Jr. has had a string of box office hits since the mid-2000’s including, Zodiac, Tropic Thunder, and Sherlock Holmes. However, before that, it looked to many that Downey himself may not survive, let alone his acting career. He had repeated struggles with drugs and alcohol and the law, having to participate in numerous court-appointed rehab courses and even serving time in prison on charges of unlawful possession.
His career trajectory is quite similar to Drew Barrymore’s and many others. Downey Jr. began acting at the age of five, achieved fame in his teens and early 20’s, and then his life was completely derailed by his substance abuse. Thankfully, he has been sober since 2003, has served his time, and has become a reliable box office draw.
9. Career Died: Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan has a penchant for comebacks, but this time, it seems like he will forever remain under a black cloud. Terry Bollea achieved mega-fame during the wrestling boom of the 1980’s and was most responsible for the WWE’s (then WWF’s) success. An underwhelming stint in Hollywood followed by admitting to use steroids only briefly hampered the Hulkster before he took back the spotlight as the cool villain “Hollywood” Hogan as part of WCW’s nWo faction.
Hogan Knows Best provided more spotlight in the 2000’s but things began to unravel. His time with the wrestling company TNA failed to boost their business, his son Nick seriously injured his friend in a drunken street racing incident, and then there was Hulk’s creepy relationship with his daughter, Brooke. He got divorced, tweeted a photo of him on the toilet, and then Gawker released his “tape”. We all laughed as Hogan sued them (backed by Peter Thiel). But the portion that was released in 2015 was not funny. Hogan went on a racist tirade, using the “N-word” several times. WWE fired Hogan from his legends contract, and at age 64, this is probably the end of the Hulk Hogan character.
8. Career Survived: Martha Stewart
When you hear the words “celeb scandal,” you think substance abuse problem, misconduct, or accidentally flashing the paparazzi coming out of your limo. You don’t think “felony charges of conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators.” But that’s what Martha Stewart was convicted of in 2004—for, essentially, insider trading. Stewart served five months in prison plus probation conditions. Given the profound lack of charges levied against those in the financial sector responsible for the Great Recession in 2008, it seems odd that a TV personality, magazine publisher, and general creator of knick-knacks and arts and crafts should serve time for avoiding a stock loss of less than $46,000, but that’s what happened.
Everybody had a good laugh at Stewart’s expense, but within a few years, she was right back on TV and resumed control of her media empire. She’s now worth $638 million (according to a 2011 estimate by Forbes) and co-hosts a cooking show with fellow ex-con Snoop Dogg.
7. Career Died: Robert Wagner
Robert Wagner is either an innocent man who will forever be haunted by the death of his wife, Natalie Wood, or a murderer who got off free. He is either deserving of pity or of unremitting scorn. On November 28, 1981, film star Natalie Wood drowned. She was on a boat trip with her husband, Wagner, the co-star of the film she was shooting, Brainstorm, Christopher Walken, and the ship’s captain, Dennis Davern. Her body was found on a nearby beach the next morning near the ship’s inflatable dinghy. Wood, Wagner, and Walken had been drinking all day. Wood and Wagner had a tumultuous relationship and fought a lot, having previously divorced and remarried. Maybe they got into a fight and a drunk Wood got into the dinghy with the intent of going back to shore and drowned (though she was something of a hydrophobe). Maybe Wagner hit or pushed her and she fell in the water.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reopened the case in 2011 but no charges have yet been laid. As for his career, Wagner has definitely not disappeared, with memorable roles as Number Two in the Austin Powers Series and a recurring role on Two and a Half Men, but he will never have the same image he once had.
6. Career Survived: Hugh Grant
Much like Paul Reubens, you can’t help but feel that Hugh Grant doesn’t belong on this list. What Grant did is pretty innocuous compared to things such as murder, and even insider trading. And, unlike Reubens, Grant’s career has thrived since his scandal but nevertheless, it was a big deal in 1995.
He was arrested on June 27, 1995 in Los Angeles for receiving lewd misconduct in a public place from street worker Divine Brown. He paid the fine, was sentenced to probation, and that was that. He didn’t make excuses on talk shows. He said he did it, it was dumb, and moved on. Grant was dating Elizabeth Hurley at the time, so (provided he didn’t have permission) what he did was adulterous, and that’s not good. And street work is illegal (though many think it shouldn’t be). And you shouldn’t do it in public but…this is all really minor. Calm down, you guys.
5. Career Died: Amanda Bynes
Amanda Bynes‘ story is similar to Lindsay Lohan’s. Though Bynes, perhaps more than anybody else in this list, seems to suffer severely from a mental health problem. After success in films such as Hairspray (2007), and Easy A (2010), Bynes abruptly announced she was taking an “indefinite hiatus” from acting and contemplating retirement. Pretty weird for a 24-year-old. In 2012, she was charged with DUI. Not great, but it happens; it’s pretty common. In 2013, Bynes was detained by police after allegedly starting a fire in her neighbor’s driveway; not so common. Bynes was held for a 72-hour mental health evaluation in a hospital. Since then, her mother has twice filed for and been granted conservatorship over Bynes’ affairs. Something is clearly very wrong. Let’s hope that Bynes can get better, regardless if she ever returns to the spotlight.
4. Career Survived: Kobe Bryant
Maybe because they are judged on their in-game performances, athletes are likelier to be forgiven for off-the-court vices. Maybe sports fans are just more forgiving. Whatever the case, Kobe Bryant is surely thankful. In the summer of 2003, Bryant was already seven years into his sterling career and had already captured three NBA Championships. He was charged in Colorado for assaulting a 19-year-old hotel employee. Bryant admitted to an adulterous encounter with her but claimed that the incident was consensual. The incident tarnished his image and he lost endorsement deals with McDonald’s and Nutella.
In 2004, the case was dropped when the accuser refused to testify in court. She later brought a civil case against Bryant which was settled out of court with undisclosed terms. Bryant publicly apologized and said, “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did.” Bryant would go on to play another 13 seasons, win two more NBA Championships, an MVP Award, and make a ton of money.
3. Career Died: O.J. Simpson
If you’re unaware of who O.J. Simpson is and his scandal, I welcome you to planet Earth, because you must not be from this solar system. For those aliens among the readership, I’ll briefly state that Orenthal James Simpson was a successful NFL running back who transitioned his sporting fame into a successful acting career. That all ended in 1994 when Simpson was charged with the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman. Although he was found not guilty in the ensuing “Trial of the Century,” few people beyond the jury thought he was innocent. Simpson lost a civil case brought against him by the victims’ families and was ordered to pay $33.5 million for their wrongful deaths.
Although he was a free man, he didn’t get much work after the trial. Simpson was arrested again in 2007, this time for armed robbery and kidnapping, and was sentenced to 33 years. He was released this past October on parole.
2. Career Survived: Charlie Sheen
The surge in popularity that Charlie Sheen received in 2011 might well prove to have been a Pyrrhic victory. In 2011, after having previously stuck by Sheen through domestic abuse allegations and a guilty plea to misdemeanor assault, CBS and Two and A Half Men finally cut ties with Sheen and fired him due to his substance abuse. Rather than hide from the notoriety, Sheen embraced it. He began behaving ever more strangely. He claimed to have tiger blood in his veins, he popularized the term “winning,” he revealed he was living with two adult film stars, he went on a highly profitable tour, he got a new TV show on FX, Anger Management, and he amassed 1 million Twitter followers faster than anybody else.
But in a few years, we might see this as the last hurrah for Sheen’s career. In 2015, he revealed he was HIV positive. Even so, he may have had up to 200 ‘partners’ since he learned of his diagnosis, although he claims to have always been upfront about his status. In 2015, he was facing up to 10 lawsuits. He hasn’t been paying full child support to his two ex-wives, and in 2016, he was under investigation for stalking and threatening his former fiancee. The 2011 episode may have helped Sheen’s career plenty, but it’s done nothing to help his personal life.
1. Career Survived: Mike Tyson
In 1992, former WBA, WBC, and IBF World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Mike Tyson was convicted of the 1991 r*pe of Desiree Washington (Miss Black Rhode Island). Tyson claimed the deed was consensual but a jury found otherwise, and Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison, of which he served less than three. After his release, he returned to the ring where he reclaimed his WBA and WBC titles, but his time as a serious contender ended in his infamous 1997 bout with Evander Holyfield in which he bit off part of Holyfield’s ear. He retired from boxing in 2006.
“Iron Mike” was also accused on national television by his first wife, Robin Givens, of being abusive. He declared bankruptcy in 2003, claimed he was living “paycheck to paycheck” in 2010, got a face tattoo, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and struggled with alcoholism. Yet through it all, popular culture has loved Tyson. Whether it was appearing at WrestleMania XIV, guest-starring in The Hangover, or staring in his own series Taking on Tyson and Mike Tyson Mysteries, Hollywood executives have always been willing to work with the convict despite the fact that he has never apologized for it, always either denying it or shying away from it.
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