The Biggest Hollywood Scandals of the Last 50 Years

Drama isn’t exclusive to Hollywood sets and stages.


1994-1995: OJ Simpson is arrested and charged with the murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. He was acquitted after a widely televised 10-month trial.

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2003-2005: Michael Jackson is accused of pedophilia. He was acquitted after a four-month trial that was a real media spectacle.

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2005: Jennifer Aniston files for divorce from Brad Pitt after five years of marriage. Months later, he begins his relationship with his Mr. and Mrs. Smith costar Angelina Jolie, with whom he reportedly had an affair while filming.

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2009: Chris Brown was charged with assault in a domestic violence incident with his then-girlfriend, Rihanna. Photos of Rihanna’s injuries have been leaked by someone close to the star.

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1973: Singer-songwriter Gram Parsons dies at age 26 of unknown causes. He had previously expressed his desire to have his ashes scattered in Joshua Tree, but his family opted for a New Orleans burial instead. Gram’s friends Phil Kaufman and Michael Martin were later arrested after stealing his body from LAX and driving it to Joshua Tree in a borrowed hearse. They attempted to cremate Gram by pouring gasoline all over the coffin, but the ensuing fire drew police to the scene.

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2012, 2015: Whitney Houston is found dead in a bathtub during the 2012 Grammy weekend. Almost three years later, her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown was found unconscious in eerily similar circumstances. Bobbi Kristina was in a coma for six months before her death. She was 22 years old.

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1977: Elvis Presley is found dead in an upper room of his Graceland mansion. Officially ruled a heart attack, many believed drug abuse was involved.

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1995-1996: Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s sex tape was stolen and leaked onto the web. The couple will later file a complaint Penthouse editor Bob Guccione on the stolen tape.

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1992: Woody Allen admits he is dating his former stepdaughter, Soon-Yi Previn, amid sexual assault allegations. The couple married in 1997.

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1997: Mike Tyson bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a game. Holyfield was rushed to hospital for surgery and Tyson was fined $3 million.

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2010: Sandra Bullock announces her split from husband Jesse James after reports of cheating became public, days after her Oscar win for The blind side. Later, it will be revealed that the infidelities came out while the couple were in the process of adopting a son.

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1982: Ozzy Osbourne bit off the head of a bat that a fan threw on stage, assuming it was a fake. It was not. People are still debating whether the incident was real, fake, fabricated or a total hoax.

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2007: Leaked sex tape of Kim Kardashian and Ray J.

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1977: 43-year-old Roman Polanski is arrested and charged with drugging and raping 13-year-old Samantha Gailey during a photo shoot the night before at Jack Nicholson’s Hollywood home.

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1989: Todd Bridges is arrested and charged with attempted murder. He was acquitted and later charged with assault with a firearm, of which he was also acquitted.

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2019-2022: R. Kelly is sentenced to 30 years in federal prison after being charged with racketeering and sex trafficking.

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2006: Mel Gibson goes on an anti-Semitic rant after being arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. He was later charged with misdemeanor drunk driving, driving with a high blood alcohol level and driving with an open container of alcohol in a car.

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1994: Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes is arrested after burning down her boyfriend Andre Rison’s Atlanta home, resulting in five years of probation.

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1978: Hogan’s heroes star, Bob Crane, was found bludgeoned to death amid a vast collection of explicit pornography.

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1984: Marvin Gaye was shot and killed by his father the day before his 45th birthday during an argument over insurance papers.

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2004–2005: Martha Stewart was arrested and charged with a number of crimes, including conspiracy and making false statements to investigators, which landed her a five-month stint in prison.

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1978: Sid Vicious attempts suicide after his release from prison, when he is accused of the death of Nancy Spurgeon. He died of a drug overdose in early 1979.

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1994: Anna Nicole Smith marries 89-year-old oil baron J. Howard Marshall II at age 26.


1996–2003: Robert Downey Jr. suffers a number of arrests, including one for driving high and naked on the Sunset Strip throwing imaginary rats out of his car window. He served time in prison and numerous stints in rehab before meeting his now wife, Susan Downey, and committing to sobriety.

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2019-2021: Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are accused of a massive college admissions scam to get their children into the colleges of their choice. The two served federal prison time as a result.

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1984: Vanessa Williams resigns as Miss America after backlash over nude photos taken in 1982 which were later published in Penthouse.

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1972: Jane Fonda travels to Hanoi, Vietnam in the midst of the Vietnam War and implores the military to stop targeting farmland and civilian areas. She later apologized for insulting servicemen by insinuating that they exaggerated the conditions they faced in the country.

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2011: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver divorce after his affair with the family’s former governess, Mildred Patricia Baena, comes to light. Baena’s son was revealed to be Arnold’s child, conceived while Shriver was pregnant with their youngest child and born just days apart.

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1977: Freddie Prinze commits suicide in front of his manager at age 22.

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2012: Katie Holmes leaves Tom Cruise after five years of marriage.

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1987: Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Gray are involved in a fatal car accident in Ireland which results in the death of a mother and her daughter. The accident happened a few days before dirty dance was released in theaters. Broderick was later convicted of reckless driving.

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2009: Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift on stage as she accepts her MTV VMA, saying Beyonce deserves the award, starting a very long and very strange feud.

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1975: Sonny & Cher announce their divorce after 13 years together and six years of marriage. Four days after it was finalized, Cher married Gregg Allman.

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1988: Sextape by Rob Lowe with two women from Atlanta, one of whom was a minor at the time. Lowe denied knowledge of her age and was never charged with a crime, but settled a lawsuit with her family.

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1992: Sinead O’Connor tears up a photo of Pope John Paul II performing Bob Marley’s “War” on Saturday Night Live to comment on child abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

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2011: Charlie Sheen bragged that he had “tiger blood” and #won in a public meltdown.

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1988: Brenda Harvey Richie was arrested after allegedly catching Lionel Richie cheating on her with Diane Alexander and kicking them each. The police reportedly saw her assaulting Diane.

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1997: Ellen DeGeneres’ sitcom is canceled after the character and comedian come out as gay.

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2018: Bill Cosby is charged with sexual assault after more than 50 women filed charges. He was sentenced to a prison term which was later overturned.

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1974–1976: Elizabeth Tayor and Richard Burton divorce (’74), remarry (’75) and separate again (’76).

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2014: Leaked security footage shows Solange Knowles assaulting her brother-in-law Jay Z in the elevator leaving the 2014 Met Gala, with Beyoncé on board.

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1980: Paul McCartney is arrested in Japan for traveling with 7.7 ounces of marijuana. He was later released and deported.

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1989: Milli Vanilli was caught lip-syncing during a live performance on MTV and it was later revealed that they weren’t the voices behind their biggest hits.

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2001: Winona Ryder is arrested for shoplifting at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.

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1977: Farrah Fawcett leaves the hit series charlie’s angels after the first season and is being sued for breach of contract.

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2011: Kim Kardashian and Kris Humprhies divorce after 72 days of marriage.

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