Say, did you know celebrities are just like you and me? Like any human being, they are capable of making spectacular mistakes and being complete assholes; some are better at it than others. If you take just a minute to think about all the celebrity shenanigans that have gone on, even over the past five years, you can probably come up with a pretty substantial list that includes Charlie Sheen, Lindsey Lohan, Randy Quaid, Chris Brown, Andy Dick, Martha Stewart (close enough), Naomi Campbell, George Michael and Boy George. Among the Hollywood types (actors, directors, etc.), there are some who bounce back from their troubles quite nicely (Rob Lowe, Robert Downey, Jr.), some that seem to be stuck in a sort of purgatory in between complete recovery and outward shunning (Hugh Grant, Pee Wee Herman)—and then there are those who will never, ever be able to live down what they have done.
These are the worst of the worst, the ones who stepped way over the line; the faces from which their “incidents” can never be separated. For a couple of them, careers might go on—they can still be hired and even be considered successful. But you’ll never be able to look at any of them without a particular transgression immediately coming to mind. You’ll always look at each of them and feel a little dirty inside, especially if you still enjoy his work. Now, I realize there are also those of us who can separate a person’s personal life from his career and I count myself among them. But I daresay that regardless of how brilliant any of their futures may turn out to be, there is no way what any of them did will ever be forgotten; they can never disconnect themselves from their incidents.
5. Michael Richards:
Incident: Racist tirade during stand-up routine. Caught on video, Richards was irritated by a couple of hecklers and in response went off the deep end and showed his true colors, spewing his vile prejudice. Though he attempted to come up with excuses (he was trying to be outrageous) and made public apologies, there are no Bigoted Asshole Comeback Tours. Even the most devout “Seinfeld” fans surely get a funny feeling inside every time Kramer bursts through Jerry’s door.
4. Robert Blake:
Incident: Allegedly murdering or hiring someone to murder his wife. In a trial nearly as bizarre as O.J. Simpson’s, Robert Blake defended himself against charges of murder and solicitation of murder. The night of May 4, 2001, Blake’s wife, Bonny Lee Bakley was shot in the head while waiting in a car outside a restaurant. The couple had just dined and left when, according to Blake’s testimony, he returned to the restaurant to retrieve a gun he’d left behind. While he was inside, Bonny was shot dead. During Blake’s trial, two stuntmen separately claimed the former “Baretta” actor had tried to hire each of them to kill his wife. While the gun that Blake accidentally left behind was not the one that killed his wife, the murder weapon was found in a dumpster close to the scene. Blake spent nearly a year in jail waiting for trial when his bail was denied and was later acquitted (the jury said the prosecutor failed to prove his case). But whether or not Blake was guilty, the whole story of his relationship with gold-digger Bakely, his anger at being “trapped” (she became pregnant with his child—though she tried to pass the baby off as belonging to Marlon Brando’s son Christian, with whom she was also involved) and the subsequent side-show trial have forever tainted the actor. Clearly fans have seen Blake’s less favorable side and retreated, as evidenced by the actor’s own recent claim that his autograph line was too short. Hey man, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.
3. Alec Baldwin:
Incident: Little pig, little pig, let me come in! Oh Alec, yes, we do all have those bad parent moments—we get our buttons pushed, we lose it and we yell. But calling your own kid a “rude, thoughtless little pig,” that went one step too far. Rude? Not so bad. Thoughtless? Absolutely. Little pig? Um…no. After a hellish divorce and caught up in an ongoing custody struggle over his daughter, Ireland, Baldwin let loose in a phone message that was sold to a media outlet and promptly played for all the world to hear. While parents around the world felt his pain and embarrassment and for the most part could understand his circumstances and emotions, the “little pig” part went past the acceptable. Now tell me you don’t sometimes look at Alec while watching “30 Rock” and imagine his nose upturned just a little bit?
2. Mel Gibson:
Incident: Alleged domestic violence against then-partner Oksana Grigorieva, various racial and homophobic tirades. Throughout the 90s and into 2010, Gibson’s disgusting diatribes against homosexuals and anyone not of his own race or religion have become world renowned. In what appears to be involuntary career suicide, Mel just keeps sputtering along like nothing has happened each time another ignorant rant is documented. The “man of faith” must believe he’s above it all because he keeps on letting loose with his foul, incoherent ramblings and making his films—however, all is not forgiven among the Hollywood community. And while his early career was marked my memorable acting and direction turns, nowadays Mel is known for his personal misbehavior.
1. Roman Polanski:
Incident: Fugitive wanted for charges of Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a minor. No matter the great films (Knife in the Water, Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, The Tenant, Frantic, Death and the Maiden, The Pianist, The Ghost Writer), the awards (multiple Best Film, Best Director, Best Foreign Film, Best Screenwriter Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTAs), and the tragedy (survived the Holocaust but lost his mother, wife Sharon Tate and unborn child murdered by Manson Family), Polanski will forever be identified by his assault on a 13 year old girl whom he raped and sodomized after drugging her. Even had he not been fleeing justice for most of his adult life, the high-profile director would forever bear this invisible scar upon his face—not unjustly and not unlike his victim.