Celebrities | Pop Culture | 90s
6 Celebrity Scandals That Prove The '90s Were Actually The Wildest Decade
1. Woody Allen Marries His Step-Daughter Because "The Heart Wants What It Wants"
While being known as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, Woody Allen has led a life of both triumph, and shame.
The acclaimed writer, actor, and producer faced a public backlash like no other when his marriage to Mia Farrow began to fall apart at the seams, bringing forward accusations that shook the reputation of the once-beloved Hollywood icon.
While both Allen and Farrow were dating (the pair were never formally married), they shared custody over their biological child, Satchel, and two adopted children, Dylan and Moshe.
At the time of their relationship, Farrow had five other children, including Soon-Yi Previn, who was adopted after being rescued from difficult circumstances in Korea.
By all accounts, Allen and Farrow had a happy 12 year relationship together. In that time, Farrow appeared in 13 of his movies, along with many of her relatives.
While they never moved in together, instead living on opposite sides of Central Park, Farrow herself said that Allen was an "excellent father" because of the amount of time he spent with his children.
Though these words now hang ominously, following the events of later years. In early '90s, it was revealed that Allen had begun an affair with Previn several years prior. Farrow was the one to discover the affair, and it led to a bitter divorce and breakup of the shared family.
The filmmaker spent much of his time visiting his family at Farrow's apartment, and got to know his former partner's children quite well. Much of his behavior has now been called into question, but it appears that there was a shared attraction between Previn and the man many deemed to be her stepfather.
Friends of the family said that they sensed the 20-year-old had formed a crush on Allen over the course of several years of knowing him, and that he "seemed to delight in it."
One family friend reported that "Woody started taking her to basketball games, and Mia would reportedly tell her to stop dressing up for them as if she were going to a disco."
While Allen and Farrow were having relationship issues towards the beginning of the '90s, it seems that the actress had no idea that her daughter was carrying on an affair with her partner, until she stumbled upon staggering evidence of his infidelity and what she describes as "immoral behavior."
Farrow discovered several photographs of Previn fully nude in Allen's apartment, with her daughter in sexually explicit poses. She felt betrayed and horrified, ending the relationship with him outright.
Allen maintained that Previn had asked for the photos to be taken as she had an interest in modeling, but did not deny the allegations.
Following the split, Previn moved into Allen's apartment and the two of them formalized their now public relationship.
Previn maintains that their relationship was consensual, and reject's her adoptive mother's narratives of grooming that took place. She took to the press that year to give her side of the story.
"I'm not a retarded little underage flower who was raped, molested and spoiled by some evil stepfather — not by a long shot," says Previn. "I admit it's offbeat, but let's not get hysterical."
Allen also came out in defense of his actions, distancing himself as her father figure at first, though this would eventually change. In the wake of the scandal he portrayed them as lovers who met under unusual circumstances.
"The heart wants what it wants. There's no logic to those things. You meet someone and you fall in love and that's that," he said. "I could have met her at a party or something."
The two of them have stayed together for over 20 years, getting married in Venice in 1997.
Some have called their relationship into question, citing a movie Allen once wrote and starred in about an older man dating a college girl, telling himself it is just a fling, until they eventually fall in love.
They have recently appeared in headlines again, with Allen offering more explanation as to the nature of their relationship. Whereas previously, he attempted to separate any filial link between himself and his wife, he now employs some rather strange terminology.
“She deferred to me, and I was happy to give her an enormous amount of decision-making just as a gift and let her take charge of so many things,” he said.
Previn has always agreed with this point of view, "To think that Woody was in any way a father or stepfather to me is laughable."
"I started the relationship with her and I thought it would just be a fling. It wouldn’t be serious, but it had a life of its own. And I never thought it would be anything more," said Allen, very coyly. "And the age difference didn’t seem to matter. It seemed to work in our favor actually."
Now, the two of them share two adopted children, and it appears that Allen and his fan-base have moved past this very quizzical time of his life.
Woody Allen's marriage may have been one of the decade's biggest Hollywood scandals, but this next one was so wild they actually turned it into a movie...
2. "The Whack Heard 'Round The World"
A healthy dose of competition plays an important role in an athlete's success, but during the early '90s, figure skater Tonya Harding took her rivalry against Nancy Kerrigan to a whole new level, resulting in a scandal that played out like a Lifetime movie. In fact, their story did inspire a couple of documentaries, TV movies, and an upcoming biopic, but before we delve into that, let’s revisit what went down between the two Olympic skaters.
On January 6th, seven weeks before the 1994 Olympic Winter Games were scheduled to begin in Lillehammer, Norway, Harding’s longtime rival, Nancy Kerrigan, was viciously attacked and injured with a police baton by a hitman named Shane Stant after a practice session.
The doctor who treated Kerrigan told the New York Times that “he [the perpetrator] was clearly trying to debilitate her.”
Stant fled the scene, but video footage of Kerrigan crying and asking, “Why? Why me?” was later leaked to the public.
She later explained, “People made such a big deal and almost, like, complaining, like, why would I say that? Well, after getting attacked, you don’t know what you’re going to say. But I think it’s a reasonable question. Like, ‘Why did this just happen? What happened? Like, why?’”
Due to the injuries she sustained to her knees, Kerrigan had no choice but to watch Harding skate her way to the stop of the scoreboard at the Women’s U.S. National Championships in Detroit, and earn a spot on the Olympic team. But in a surprising twist, the U.S. Figure Skating Association (USFA) named the extremely talented Kerrigan to the team.
All the while, investigators were pursuing the case in hopes of nabbing the suspect before they struck again. They suspected that a crazy fan may have been behind the attack, so it wasn’t until they received a lead from a Portland-based minister that they started to expand their suspect list.
The clergyman told the investigators that he heard a recording of three men plotting to hurt Kerrigan. The men were eventually identified as Harding's bodyguard, Shawn Eric Eckardt, her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and Stant.
By the time the Olympics started in February, this information reached the public’s ears, and people all over the nation began to speculate about Harding’s involvement. Authorities began to piece things together, and it didn’t take much longer for them to figure out Harding and Gillooly weren’t innocent. According to the reports, Gillooly paid Stant $6,500 to knock Kerrigan out of the competition.
The media frenzy surrounding the incident dubbed “the whack heard around the world,” turned Harding and Kerrigan into even bigger international sensations and pop culture figures. Although the extent of Harding’s involvement in what New York Times reporter Jere Longman described as “the most horrifying, embarrassing and ultimately beneficial moment in the history of the sport,” remained unknown, news reports continued to pit the two women against each other.
"The media couldn't wait to tell this story of [Harding as] a hard-knock kid from a hardscrabble background who belied the stereotype [and] went against all the norms of what a world-class skater should be," recalled Ann Schatz, a Portland-based sportscaster who covered the case. "It didn't work out the way we envisioned."
Instead, Harding was portrayed as the “evil witch,” and Kerrigan as the survivor “princess,” who still eventually got the podium moment she was almost denied. Kerrigan embodied everything that the figure-skating world wanted in their athletes, while Harding refused to conform. She was a talented skater, but unlike Kerrigan, who appeared ladylike and poised, Harding’s life wasn’t very stable, she also smoked, drove a pickup truck, and skated to songs by rock bands like ZZ Top.
She later wrote in her autobiography, The Tonya Tapes, that the U.S. Figure Skating Association was on her case even before she was accused of assaulting Kerrigan. The disgraced athlete claimed that the USFA tried to talk her into taking her ex-husband back so she would appear to have blissful domestic life while competing at the games.
"They said I had a stable life when I was with him – married, settled down," she wrote. "They wanted to make sure I was still going to be that way to go to the Olympic Games."
Both Harding and Kerrigan competed at the Winter Olympic Games in the midst of the investigation, and even if you watched them skate on TV, you could sense the tension, especially as they both took to the ice to practice beside each other.
In what the media described as karma, Harding came in 8th place after her skate lace broke and she wasn’t allowed a redo. Kerrigan, on the other hand, took home the silver medal.
As the games came to an end, investigators made some new developments that further implicated Harding. She denied all the allegations, but no one, including the USFA would believe her. Harding claimed that she had no idea that Gillooly and Eckhart were planning an attack on her teammate. She said that they didn’t do it to take Kerrigan out of the competition, but rather to punish her for taking the USFA’s advice and rekindling her doomed relationship with Gillooly for publicity.
A “bizarre, anonymously signed” letter naming Harding as an accomplice surfaced, and despite her continued plea of innocence, she was eventually was charged for hindering apprehension.
She pleaded guilty, and was placed on a three-year probation plus 500 hours of community service. She also received a $100,000 fine, and was banned from the USFA for life.
In exchange for a plea deal, Gillooly testified against Harding, and was sentenced to two years in prison. Stant, Eckhardt and Derrick Smith, who drove the getaway car, were all jailed for assault.
Harding and Kerrigan never competed at the Olympics again. In 1998, they agreed to sit down for a joint interview with FOX.
"I just ask forgiveness,” said Harding. “She has her life, I have my life, I would hope we could just end it.”
Kerrigan continued to work as a professional skater in the years that followed. She worked on Broadway on Ice, and appeared on various documentaries, TV shows and films like 2007's Blades of Glory. She was also among the celebrity dancers on season 24 of Dancing With The Stars. However, she still struggled with a slew of personal problems, including an eating disorder and multiple miscarriages.
Harding, on the other hand, faded into obscurity and was not heard from for another few years. She appeared in a few documentaries and released an autobiography, The Tonya Tapes, in which she gave a harrowing account of the story behind Kerrigan's attack, revealing that Gillooly threatened her at gunpoint when he found out that she was planning to go to the FBI with the information she had.
In an attempt rebuild her life, Harding remarried twice, had kids, and tried out different career paths. However, her past still continued to haunt her.
"I'm not an educated woman. What am I gonna do for the rest of my life? I'm an athlete ... And now I have absolutely nothing," she said in the 2006 documentary Anything to Win.
As for Kerrigan, she recently revealed that she never received a direct apology from Harding
It’s been 23 years since the scandal occurred, but it seems like neither the two women nor the media are ready to move on. A new biopic, I, Tonya, starring Margot Robbie as Harding is set to hit theaters on December 8, and the spotlight is once again shining on Harding.
"The more I became Tonya, the more I saw things from her point of view,” Robbie told W Magazine. “I’m on her side 100 percent. I don’t think she did anything but be different from what the world wanted. She didn’t fit in. And I love that."
In preparation for all the press she will be receiving, Harding spent some time "getting ready to be seen again." Her friend added that "she’s eating well and has lost some weight. She’s getting in shape and is even skating again. She’s really excited about this."
Harding, now 47, made an official public appearance for the first time in tears at the Los Angeles premiere of the film on December 5th.
Nancy Kerrigan may have been figure skating's "ice princess" but the story of this real life princess was much more tragic...
3. The Real Life Tragedy of "The People's Princess"
Everyone in the '90s remembers the night our world was rocked - the day the “People’s Princess” died in a car accident in Paris, France. Princess Diana was loved not only by the people of the United Kingdom but around the world.
Princess Diana’s funeral was named to be the most-watched live TV event with 31 million viewers in the UK and 33 million people in the United States tuning in.
While her funeral took place only six days after her tragic death on August 31, 1997, people haven’t forgotten the story of her life, and what lead her to be on that dark road in Paris the night of her death.
Few people knew the truth about Princess Diana's marriage. In 1991, Prince Charles had rekindled his relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles and Princess Diana was suffering from an eating disorder trying to cope with her life as a Royal.
Diana and Charles met in 1977 when the Prince was dating her older sister, Sarah. He ended the relationship with Sarah and he and Diana began courting in 1980 when she was just 19 years old.
Proposing to Diana in February 1981, they married in July of that same year.
"I was very, very calm, deathly calm. I felt I was a lamb to the slaughter. I knew it and couldn't do anything about it. My last night of freedom with Jane at Clarence House," she said.
It all started just 2 days before their fairy tale wedding that took place in front of a global audience of 750 million people.
"We got married on Wednesday. On the Monday [July 27, 1981], we had gone to St Paul's for our last rehearsal, and that's when the camera lights were on full and I got a sense of what the day was going to be. And I sobbed my eyes out. I absolutely collapsed and it was because of all sorts of things. The Camilla thing rearing its head the whole way through our engagement," transcripts that Diana made in secret revealed.
Diana struggled with bulimia throughout the couple’s engagement and after their wedding.
“I remember the first time I made myself sick. I was so thrilled because I thought this was the release of tension," Diana said. “The first time I was measured for my wedding dress, I was 29 inches around the waist. The day I got married, I was 23-and-a-half inches. I had shrunk into nothing from February to July.”
Things didn’t get easier throughout their marriage.
"I was so depressed, and I was trying to cut my wrists with razor blades. It rained and rained and rained. I came down early (to London) to seek treatment, not because I hated Balmoral, but because I was in such a bad way," she said.
The medical professionals she saw put her on high doses of Valium to try and help her cope.
Even the birth of her two children, William and Harry, didn’t make the Princess’s life any easier.
Diana recalled the events of William’s baptism that triggered her depression.
"Nobody asked me when it was suitable for William — 11 o’clock, couldn’t have been worse," Diana said in the transcript. "Endless pictures of the Queen, Queen Mother, Charles and William. I was excluded totally that day. I felt desperate, because I had literally just given birth — William was only six weeks old. And it was all decided around me. Hence the ghastly pictures."
Diana and Charles were officially divorced in 1996 after his affair with Camilla became public. Just one year later, she was in the car accident that ended her life.
It wasn’t just Camilla that Charles had his eye on during his marriage to Diana. In a letter addressed to the wife of the UK Ambassador to Washington, he admitted "I have fallen in love with Mrs Reagan – she is wonderful… I wanted to kiss her."
Charles and the First Lady had a very close relationship that was kept secret for a very long time. The pair, however, exchanged plenty of letters.
“No one can really understand what it all means until it happens to you which is why it all keeps getting worse and worse. One day I will tell you the whole story,” wrote Charles in one of the letters.
It was also rumored that Diana had a high-profile affair of her own. In 1995, three years after her separation from Prince Charles, Diana met John F. Kennedy Jr. in a hotel room overlooking Central Park.
"We started talking, one thing led to another - and we ended up in bed. It was pure chemistry," Diana said according to Simone Simmons, Princess Diana’s energy healer.
"My mouth dropped open. I cried out: 'What! You're joking, aren't you?' and I really thought she was. She replied: 'No, I'm not. It happened. And he was an amazing lover - a ten, the tops,'" she said.
Diana was good at keeping her relationships after her divorce out of the public eye, until finding love with Dodi al-Fayed, the millionaire with whom she died in the car accident in Paris.
On the night of her death, her car was being chased by paparazzi through a tunnel in Paris when the driver lost control.
To this day, Prince Harry, who was just 13 years old at the time, still holds anger towards the people who stood by and took pictures of the wreckage.
"I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with is the fact that the people that chased her into the tunnel were the same people that were taking photographs of her while she was still dying on the back seat of the car," said Harry. "She'd had quite a severe head injury but she was very much still alive on the back seat. And those people that caused the accident, instead of helping, were taking photographs of her dying on the back seat."
When Xavier Gourmelon and his ten-man team arrived at the scene of the crash, he reportedly heard the Princess’s final words.
“The car was in a mess and we just dealt with it like any road accident. We got straight to work to see who needed help and who was alive," he recalled. "Diana said to me, 'My God, what’s happened?’"
Moments after Diana was removed from the wreckage and given oxygen, she went into cardiac arrest.
“I massaged her heart and a few seconds later she started breathing again. It was a relief of course because, as a first responder, you want to save lives — and that’s what I thought I had done," Gourmelon said. “To be honest I thought she would live. As far as I knew when she was in the ambulance she was alive and I expected her to live. But I found out later she had died in hospital. It was very upsetting."
Diana suffered internal injuries and was pronounced dead at 4 AM that morning. Dodi al-Fayed and driver, Henri Paul were also killed in the crash.
10 years after the world tuned in to watch Diana's ill-fated wedding, the wedding of two Hollywood "royals" was about to go spectacularly off the rails...
4. The Hollywood Romance That Made Julia Roberts Pull A Runaway Bride
While her career has struggled more lately, there was a time not that long ago when Julia Roberts was not only one of the biggest names in Hollywood, but, thanks to her iconic smile, was literally "America's Sweetheart."
While her part in 1989's Steel Magnolias won her a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress, it was her role as Vivian Ward, the hooker with a heart of gold, in 1990's Pretty Woman that made her a household name.
While she would star in some more serious roles, in the '90s she was best known for her romantic comedies, thanks to starring roles in movies like My Best Friend's Wedding and Notting Hill. In 1999 she would reunite with Pretty Woman co-star Richard Gere for the rom-com Runaway Bride.
But what most of us never realized was that Julia's character, Maggie Carpenter, wasn't the only one experienced in leaving someone at the altar. In fact, it's something Julia herself was all too familiar with.
The same year she would get breakthrough role in Pretty Woman, she would also star in the sci-fi horror Flatliners. It was on the set of that movie that she would meet, and fall in love with, co-star Kiefer Sutherland.
Sutherland had already made a name for himself thanks to his roles in movies like Stand By Me and Young Guns, but it was his role as the vampire David in The Lost Boys that would turn him into an '80s bad boy icon.
The drama surrounding their romance was pretty much there from the start. Sutherland was still married to then-wife Camelia Kath, while Roberts broke off her engagement to Steel Magnolias co-star Dylan McDermott in order to be with Sutherland.
To almost rub salt in the wound, Roberts would end up including Sutherland in her acceptance speech after winning the Golden Globe for Steel Magnolias, thanking her “best friend — my beautiful blue-eyed, green-eyed best friend, who gives me everything.”
Considering her relationship with Sutherland was the third time she began dating a co-star (before her engagement to Dylan McDermott she dated Satisfaction co-star Liam Neeson), we probably should have seen that as a sign of things to come....
The two young actors would quickly become one of Hollywood's power couples. Sutherland moved into Roberts's Hollywood Hills home, and the future seemed bright for the superstar duo. In 1991, Pretty Woman would net Julia Roberts her second Oscar nomination and her second Golden Globe win, this time for Best Actress. But behind-the-scenes, things were not as they appeared.
Kiefer Sutherland's struggles with alcohol began to put a strain on the relationship. At one point he ended up moving out of their shared mansion and into a seedy motel, supposedly to help prepare him for an upcoming role. During that time, he was seen in the company of a 24-year-old go-go dancer named Amanda Rice.
He returned home after a few weeks, and everything seemed to return to normal. But that wouldn't last.
Three months later, in May of 1991, Amanda Rice sold the story of their affair to the tabloid Globe. In the published story, she claimed Sutherland told her that her role in Pretty Woman turned Roberts into "an ice princess" who was overly possessive and insecure about her looks.
After the story broke, Sutherland's team worked on damage control, saying that while he knew Rice, their relationship was neither sexual nor romantic. Two days later, Roberts was admitted to Cedar-Sinai Hospital for "a bad bout of the flu."
During her five-day stay, Sutherland was seen visiting her often. They seemed to have worked through their issues, as almost immediately after leaving the hospital the couple announced their engagement, with the wedding to follow four weeks later on June 14, 1991.
The wedding was set to be a lavish affair. The 150-guest ceremony was to take place at 20th Century Fox's Soundstage 14, which had been decorated to look like a massive garden. Bundles of roses were to serve as centerpieces, and guests would be served gourmet beef filets and champagne.
Roberts had chosen a custom-made gown that reportedly cost $8,000, and their planned cake was a four-tier monster decked out with violets and sea-foam green icing. Everything seemed to be ready for the fairy tale wedding of two of Hollywood's finest. Then, three days before they were set to say "I do," everything fell apart.
Roberts called off the wedding, and ended things with Sutherland. Reportedly, he found out not from his former bride-to-be, but from a mutual friend who called to tell him her decision.
On what would have been his wedding day, Kiefer Sutherland moved from their mansion to his own apartment. The would-be bride, on the other hand, spent it eating a turkey burger with a different '80s heartthrob, Jason Patric. The same Jason Patric who was supposedly still friends with his fellow Lost Boys co-star, Kiefer Sutherland. Ouch.
Apparently, while Sutherland was making sure their honeymoon getaway was ready, Roberts headed to Canyon Ranch spa with some friends for some R & R before the wedding. The same Canyon Ranch spa where one Jason Patric would arrive that same day, and reportedly be seen eating dinner with, and comforting the actress.
This supposedly led to Sutherland uninviting Patric to the wedding, which kicked off an argument with him and his future wife. It was clearly, however, too little, too late, as the wedding was called off and Roberts jetted off to Ireland alongside Jason Patric. Understandably, the press went wild.
Upon their return, they made their relationship public. But their romance wasn't meant to last either, as they'd break things off the following year.
Roberts would go on to marry Lyle Lovett in 1993, later divorcing him in 1995. She also dated Benjamin Bratt from 1998 to 2001, before eventually marrying cameraman Daniel Moder in 2002. The two are still together and have three children.
Kiefer Sutherland, meanwhile, would marry Kelly Winn, though they would separate in 1999 before filing for divorce in 2004. He also dated Bo Derek during the 2000s. He recently made his relationship with Cindy Vela public, though the two have reportedly been dating in secret since 2014.
Kiefer Sutherland has made it clear that he has no hard feelings over being left at the altar. In a 2016 interview with People's Jess Cagle, he said "I think it took a lot of courage, even amongst all of that other stuff, to be able to say, 'I can't do this.'"
As for his feelings towards Jason Patric, he told Rolling Stone in 2006, "We were friends, and I'm surprised that I never got a call from him saying I've fallen in love with da-da-da. Instead, I found out from a stranger."
Though more recently, it seems they have smoothed things over. In 2011 they were co-stars once again in the Broadway revival of That Championship Season (coincidentally written by Patric's father, Jason Miller). In an interview, Jason Patric told Vulture "We had drinks last night and he said that was one of the best summers of his life when we did Lost Boys...and wow, 25, a quarter-century later there’s Kiefer and now he’s playing my brother. Something interesting about it as far as the cosmos go.
While Julia Roberts love life was probably worthy of a Hollywood movie, this next scandal would actually have a happy ending.
5. The Routine Blood Test That Changed How The World Saw AIDS
The Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s and early '90s were pop-culture icons. Known as the "Showtime Lakers," they wowed crowds across the U.S. with their uptempo style of play, combined with their style and flare. They were led by the ever smiling Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and he was just that, "Magic."
The ever smiling Johnson was the face of league before Michael Jordan would even come onto the scene. Drafted 1st overall in the 1979 NBA draft, he helped lead the Lakers to an NBA Championship as he filled in for Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, earning the NBA Finals MVP award. This would be the first of five titles that Magic would end up leading the Lakers to during his 12 year career. That smiling face was still making a huge impact on the game as he started off the 1991 NBA season.
Everything changed in November of 1991 when Johnson made an announcement that would shock not only the sports world, but the entire world at large.
On November 7, 1991, Earvin “Magic” Johnson took to the podium in Inglewood, California for a press conference. The NBA was abuzz with what could possibly be getting announced, no one expected, or could have predicted what came next. When Magic spoke, he announced that he would be retiring from the NBA at the beginning of what was his 13th season because he had tested positive for HIV. Johnson found out that he was HIV positive after taking a routine blood test for a life insurance policy.
In the early 1990s, HIV/AIDS was still a wildcard. People didn’t fully understand the ramifications of what contracting the virus actually meant. Most people were terrified of just being near someone who had contracted the virus, and everyone, including many physicians considered it to be a death sentence.
The media's response to his announcement only proved how important this moment was.
During his retirement press conference, Johnson thanked everyone who had come out there to support him, and told the media assembled, using his trademark smile, that he planned on being around for a long time and living a fulfilling life.
There was a somber, controlled atmosphere to the press conference, something that is not normal for such massive announcements as journalists couldn’t ever wait to start screaming questions at the speakers. But this time they sat and listened. They listened as Johnson told the world that he would become a spokesperson for the fight against HIV/AIDS. They listened as he said that he planned on working with the league (and hopefully the Lakers) to continue to propagate the game of basketball around the world. They listened as he spoke about how he would miss basketball, “but life does go on.”
This was one of the major turning points in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Few public figures, and none as prominent as Magic Johnson had ever publicly announced that they were fighting off the potentially deadly virus. His announcement and poise were praised by health professionals.
"I hope that Americans everywhere will understand better today that AIDS is not a remote disease that only strikes 'someone else,' " Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a statement. "Everyone must be aware that the AIDS epidemic can reach them. I am very heartened by the announcement that in the months and years ahead, Magic Johnson will help carry a lifesaving message to young people across our nation."
Up until that November 1991 announcement, HIV/AIDS was considered to be a disease of the poor and disenfranchised. A disease of drug addicts and homosexuals. It was not something that you spoke about in “polite” company. It was also considered to be universally fatal to anyone who contracted it, Magic changed all that.
He was not poor, and definitely not disenfranchised. He was not a drug addict, nor was he gay. He was the face of the Los Angeles Lakers, and one of the most popular athletes the world over. Magic’s brave stance in the face of the virus that could potentially end up taking his life changed the way we see the virus, and the AIDS disease that follows after.
Magic stood with poise and class as he spoke eloquently about what he would miss most about the game that had given him so much.
"I'm going to miss it. I'm going to miss coming in at 5 o'clock (before games), saying hello to the security people, the ushers. Getting to see you guys (reporters) at 6 o'clock: 'Magic, what about this, what about that?' I'll miss that. I'll miss the battles and the wars but most of all I'll miss the camaraderie with the guys. . . .”
It wasn’t the end of his basketball career though. He came back for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. He was a member, and one of the leaders, of the original “Dream Team” comprised of the best basketball players the world had to offer. Magic went out on top, winning a gold medal beside the likes of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen and a long list of future Hall of Fame players.
Now, 26 years later, Earvin “Magic” Johnson is still alive and living life to the fullest. He is working with the Lakers as their President of Basketball Operations. He hopes to lead them back to the glory days of the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s and early '90s.
But Magic Johnson wasn't the only celebrity to almost lose it all at the height of his career...
6. An Evening Stroll Down The Sunset Strip Almost Destroyed Hugh Grant's Career
Up until 1995, life had been good for Hugh Grant. The 34-year-old British actor recently got his shot at stardom for his role in the movie, Four Weddings and a Funeral, he was dating supermodel Elizabeth Hurley, and was out promoting his latest flick, Nine Months, in Hollywood.
Then everything came crashing down.
On the evening of June 26, 1995, Grant had been caught in a sexual act with a prostitute. He had been strolling down LA’s notorious "Sunset Strip," and met Estella Marie Thompson, who went by the name Divine Brown. He had paid her $50 to perform oral sex on him in public, but the pair were discovered by undercover police officers.
Grand and Brown had been caught in the act and were promptly charged with “lewd conduct in a public place.”
It wasn’t long until media outlets got wind of Grant’s scandal, and he and his PR team were immediately forced to do damage control.
“Last night I did something completely insane,” Grant said in a statement released the next day. “I have hurt people I love and embarrassed people I work with. For both things I am more sorry than I can ever possibly say.”
Tabloids from across the Atlantic had a field day with Grant’s fall from grace, but they also duked it out to interview Brown, in order to be the first to publish her side of the story.
In the end, News of the World scored the coveted tell-all, by paying her a rumored $100,000. Among the intimate details, Brown said Grant reportedly told her, “I always wanted to sleep with a black woman. That’s my fantasy.”
The following month, Grant was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000, attend an AIDS awareness class and sentenced to two years of probation. Conversely, Brown was sentenced to 180 days in prison and fined $1,350 after pleading no contest. She had already been on probation due to previous prostitution charges.
Grant went on a mass “apology tour,” begging for the public’s forgiveness on late-night television, beginning with an appearance on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
“I’ve done an abominable thing, and she’s [Liz Hurley] been amazing about it, and contrary to what I read in the paper today, she’s been very supportive, and we’re going to try to work it out,” he said during the interview.
Since then, Hollywood seemed to forget about Grant’s high-profile scandal, and he was able to revive his shattered career. He starred in a series of successful movies, including Notting Hill, Bridget Jones Diary, About a Boy, and Love Actually. The well-known playboy has become a father of four, and is still friends with his ex-girlfriend, Hurley.
But he wasn’t the only one who’s done well for himself.
In 2010, Daily Mail interviewed Brown - who reverted back to her given name, Stella Thompson - to see what her life had been like since the sensationalized ordeal.
The mother of three said she prefers to remember the infamous incident as “God’s work” that’s brought her to where she is now.
She has moved away from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Georgia where she had wisely invested a portion of the $1 million she had made from multiple interviews and appearances.
Thompson’s two oldest children are in college, she has long since quit prostitution, and runs a music production company with her fiancé Richie Fediccinni. She said her life couldn’t get any better.
“I have the most wonderful life now,’ she said. “I’ve got a nice new home with three bedrooms and four bathrooms. It’s very pretty and I have a beautiful garden with flowers. There’s no pool, but I do have a picket fence. I thank the Lord every day.”
Sources: The Guardian, The Independent, Daily Mail,