Hollywood will never, ever run out of sordid, sickening stories connected with sex, drugs, violence and gross misconduct. And of course the scandals will never be complete without the unsavory characters who got into the spotlight for all the flagrant reasons. Scandals range from the heart-rending to just downright silly. But scandals are the spice of the Tinseltown — and some of them even pave the way for the advancement of one’s career. When you think of the word “Hollywood,” there’s never a time you wouldn’t think of a scandal.
Before Paris Hilton, Pamela and Tommy, and Kim Kardashian, there was Rob Lowe who started the first well-known sex video scandal. In 1988 he picked up two girls (with one of them a minor), who managed to escape his hotel room with his money and the video tape. The portions of the video were leaked to the public, and because of the scandal Lowe was endlessly hounded by the tabloid press. He finally settled with the teenage girl and performed 20 hours of community service to dodge charges of sexual misconduct against him.
English actor Hugh Grant became a globally famous star during the 1990s, thanks to the sleeper hit Four Weddings and a Funeral. His stammering charm and posh accent tugged the hearts of many girls. But this image ended when he was arrested along with prostitute Divine Brown when they were caught having a lewd act in public, in Los Angeles, California. The scandal spread like wildfire, but Grant decided to go forward with scheduled interviews to promote his film Nine Months — a gesture which meant that he indeed owned up his mistake. The world (including his long-time girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley) forgave him, and his career has never been better than ever.
Famous director Woody Allen was romantically involved with actress Mia Farrow at that time, where they adopted two kids and had one of their own. Farrow was also the adoptive mother of Soon-Yi Previn (with her ex-husband Andre Previn). Farrow separated from Allen in 1992, entered an acrimonious custody battle where Farrow stated that Allen sexually molested Soon-Yi because of the naked photographs of Soon-Yi that Allen had taken. Allen was 56 and Soon-Yi was 19 when they started a relationship. After the scandal, Soon-Yi stayed with Allen. The couple has been happily married since 1997, and they now have two adopted children.
Ingrid Bergman was supposed to be impeccable and above the tawdry gossip, much less a scandal. She was an Oscar-winning actress and happily married to a dentist husband with whom she had a daughter. That image shattered in 1949 when the Swedish-born actress began an affair with a married Italian director Roberto Rossellini during the set of Stromboli. The illicit affair left Bergman pregnant. The scandal was exposed swiftly that led to religious groups calling to ban all her films. Bergman’s scandal even reached the Senate, who called her “a powerful influence for evil.” Bergman and Rossellini married and had two more kids, but eventually divorced in 1956. She made a triumphant comeback to Hollywood through her film Anastasia, which won Bergman her second Oscar .
The “Sweater Girl” Lana Turner was caught in a scandal in 1958 after her 14-year old daughter Cheryl fatally stabbed her boyfriend Johnny Stomponato after he and Turner were engaged in a violent argument. Turner tearfully testified that the mob-linked Stomponato was about to slit her throat when Cheryl cut into the scene and stabbed him in the abdomen. Just minutes later, he was dead. After the scandal reached to the courts, they sent Cheryl to live with her grandmother while Turner revived her career with a box-office smash Imitation of Life in 1959.
The genius Polish director pleaded guilty to charges of “unlawful sex with a minor” in 1977 after having an encounter with a 13-year old girl. Polanski had an intercourse with her against her will; he also fed her alcoholic drinks and drugs. In the heat of the scandal and facing the possibility that he could be jailed, Polanski fled for France, where he was a naturalized citizen — and French people can’t be extradited to America. He has never set his foot in the US since, even when he won an Oscar Best Director for the 2002 Best Picture The Pianist.
Rotund comic star Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was at the peak of his film career and financial success when he was arrested in 1921 for killing starlet Virginia Rappe. Initially charged for murder, Arbuckle was a charged for sexual assault. After three trials that grabbed the national headlines, he was acquitted. Said the jury in the statement, “Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle,” and that turned out to be too true. His career was never the same again, with studios turning away from him like he had cancer. After several failures, Arbuckle was on the comeback trail when he died in his sleep from a heart attack in 1933.
Fashionable actress and Oscar nominee Winona Ryder was arrested in 2001 for trying to pilfer some designer goods worth $6,000, and these included creations by Marc Jacobs, D&G, and Gucci. Aside from the stolen designer goods, Ryder also was also found to be carrying a syringe and prescription drugs. The scandal broke and media hounded Ryder during her trial. She was sentenced to three years probation and 480 hours of community service. She was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. Since her arrest Ryder’s movie career never revived to its old glory.
Ex-NFL star OJ Simpson became a Hollywood actor who found some success in films such as The Towering Inferno and The Naked Gun films. In 1994, he was arrested for the murder of his wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman. The arrest led to the infamously slow police car chase scene which was witnessed by millions of TV viewers. The scandal and the following trial was so big that it became “The Trial of the Century” because of too much media coverage. Simpson was declared not guilty of the murders. But from then on, it was downhill for Simpson, who was even later accused of robbery and drug trafficking.
After Michael Jackson enjoyed his seeming unbreakable reputation as the King of Pop, the 10 years filled with scandals changed his image dramatically. Jackson became the fodder of several scandals, and every move that Jackson made was hounded by the insatiable press to feed to the public who was obsessed to watch out for the next news. He faced child molestation charges (one of wherein he paid a $15 million to settle a 1993 lawsuit brought by a 13-year-old boy), flaming criticisms for his disfiguring plastic surgery, and dealt with two failed marriages. Jackson’s dangling of his baby from his hotel balcony surely enraged the public.