ByRob Taylor, writer at
Rob Taylor


Since the entertainment world has been around, there have been stars who don't play by the rules, unfortunate slips of the tongue and hidden evils. Those that pay them are generally happy to play along while times are good, hell hath no fury like an entertainment company scorned.

In the 50's the McCarthy trials saw actors, artists and directors 'black-listed' for simply knowing someone who was a communist sympathizer. In the 60's Cassius Clay was criminalized for refusing to be drafted, but only after changing his name and drawing ire for his choice of religion and affiliation to the Black Panther movement.

In 1990, at the height of her popularity, Irish singer Sinead O'Connor famously committed career suicide, by ripping up a picture of The Pope and stating "Fight The Real Enemy". Her career NEVER recovered, she is now an ordained minister but received death threats at the time. It's shocking!

More recently, we have seen stars on both sides of the Atlantic facing either criminal charges, or accusations of sexual impropriety going back as far as the 1960's in some cases, past any known "statute of limitations".

This past week we've seen Hulk Hogan, a hero to millions in the 80's and 90's brought low by his own damning moment of madness.

While the above are all pretty bad, at the other end there are the faux pas, the genuine slip of the tongue or the misunderstanding or minor offence.

The sad reality is whatever you do. You make a mistake in showbiz... you are thrown under the bus!

Goodbye Norma Jean

Marilyn Monroe was one of the icons of the last century and arguably the first truly global icon Hollywood produced. Her image was seen across the world as a symbol of beauty, vivaciousness and spirit.

However there was a darker side to Marilyn, an uncontrollable one and as her career boomed, so did her power and influence with important people. When she was found dead, naked and with drugs 'involved' it gave the studios the chance to spin that she was 'troubled and out of control'.

Her tale has been repeated ad nausem in the years since when a young starlet dies. Amy Winehouse and Marilyn real parallels in their stories. When they were "hot", the establishment loved them, when things went awry or they lost control of them, they were quick to turn.

Roman Polanski

Polanski is one of the most polarising figures in Hollywood history and one of the few whose story could have come from the pages of a Hollywood script.

On one hand you have a director of one of the seminal films of his generation, with a reputation as a 'L'Enfant terrible' facing true horror in real life. His bride, Sharon Tate and their unborn child were murdered at the hands of the Manson family in their home.

Normally such a tragedy would buy a pass for ALMOST anything. But within a couple of years he was accused of sleeping with a 13 year old girl and fled the US rather than face trial. He remains an exile to this day, limited on his travel for fear of extradition. He still works and, many of Hollywood's great and good will make a point do work with him, he even appeared in Chinatown & a Rush Hour movie, there is no blacklist for working with him.

This is arguably the oldest case of a celebrity being a fugitive from justice out there and in recent years, his case now does not seem that unusual.

Several celebrities have been accused of underage sex, from R.Kelly to Jimmy Saville and Bill Cosby has been accused of other offences, though not charged as of writing. The reality is we are all being judged by today's standard and almost anyone can now be retrospectively judged, celebs even more so.

The difference for Polanski is he was smart or foolish enough to know what was coming and he ran. Could there ever be a pardon for him? I would hope so, especially as the girl and now mature woman concerned has long said she wouldn't want charges brought. Polanski, however, is the cautionary tale. There is no such thing as a free pass, whatever happens to you.

Randy Quaid

Known for his 'dumb but lovable' characters in movies such as Vacation, Independence Day and Kingpin, Quaid had one of the more spectacular meltdowns in history. What's more disturbing is that his wife was along for the ride. After 2 criminal cases which in themselves were bizarre, they fled to Canada and a whole new saga of weirdness began, with the Quaids claiming refugee status from 'star-whackers', a group they claimed murdered celebrities.

Quaid is not the dumb character he portrayed in so many films, indeed he is an Oscar nominee with a solid body of work behind him. He's now dropped off the radar completely while Hollywood ruminates on making a movie about his theory.

Mel Gibson

Arguably the most spectacular fall from grace in Hollywood history came in the case of Gibson. Mel had enjoyed a successful two decade career which included a raft of franchise hits like Mad Max and Lethal Weapon and being one of the few actors to actually become an Academy Award winning director. It imploded in almost record time when he was pulled over for a DUI and went on an anti-Semitic rant at the police officers.

Things deteriorated further for Gibson when he was taped in a foul mouthed tirade against his partner of the time and mother of some of his children. From celebrated actor and director, Mel became persona non grata overnight to the Hollywood establishment and has worked only sporadically since, most recently in Expendables 3.

Robert Downey Jr., himself someone who fell and managed to claw his way back, even appealed for forgiveness for Mel at an awards ceremony but seemingly to little avail. Indeed the perfect opportunity to do this would surely have been a cameo in Fury Road in some way? But, alas it doesn't seem like Hollywood is in any mood to forgive or hire Mel Gibson, which is a shame as he has always been a terrific actor.

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen was one of the most promising young talents of the 80's. Roles in Wall Street and Platoon gave way to ever more disappointing roles. One however in 1991 one set the tone for his career without him even realising. Hot Shots was a fun spoof in the vein of Airplane, The Naked Gun and Spaceballs and showed off Sheen's knack for comedy, the formula continued with Loaded Weapon but it was as Michael J. Fox's replacement on Spin City that the pieces gelled. When 2 and 1/2 Men debuted, Chuck Lorre spotted the chemistry between Sheen and fellow 80's teen star Jon Cryer and together they made a hit show.

Soon, Sheen was the highest paid TV actor in Hollywood, commanding monster salary, but as this increased, so did his offbeat and at times downright frightening lifestyle. Things came to a head with a very public falling out with Lorre, which led to his firing from the show.

The immediate aftermath is still one of Hollywood's most entertaining but scary periods and has contributed much to the pop culture landscape. The phrases "winning", "tiger-blood", referring to your women as "goddesses" all came from Sheen in that period and he was suddenly the hottest commodity on the planet.

Lorre was not afraid however and went ahead in recasting a new character played by Ashton Kutcher. Most notably, he gave the most withering exit possible to Sheen, the random death off-screen.

The show continued for years, had more controversies linked to it's young star going on a religious tirade against the show, this was forgiven. But there was no way back for Sheen, a much rumored and hoped for cameo in the final episode was snatched from the fans in equally withering style by a falling piano. If these two guys ever get in a room together, bring popcorn!


The most recent and, ahem RAW of these falls from grace is 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan. Whilst decorum prohibits posting what he said here, suffice to say it was NOT linked to an interview on the radio. What he said was behind closed doors and much like Donald Sterling, that he didn't know it was recorded is no defence at all.

WWE have to many, overstepped the mark. They removed him from their website within hours. Not just partially, but erased his history almost. Except, they can't because Hogan was the biggest part of their product for so long in the 80's and 90's they really can't erase him.

It's the second racism scandal to hit them in a year, the last saw Mexican star Alberto Del Rio fired for slapping a staff worker who had abused him. Sure you can't really hit someone, but how many of us wouldn't? There have also been several scandals in the past.

Alas this is not the first time the Hogan style white-wash (no pun intended) has happened and the other time was far more heinous than anything else on this list.

Chris Benoit was a favourite wrestler for years of many, including my own. The sad truth was. He was also the man who killed his wife and child before himself. WWE was absolutely right to remove reference to him and then slowly re-integrate some aspects. They don't outwardly promote him or even say his name, but they no longer excise all footage of him.

What Hogan has done is nothing compared to this and indeed there are other transgressors in their Hall Of Fame that wouldn't stand the recent "google test" proposed by CEO Triple H as a criteria. If a 9 year old Googles Jimmy Snuka or Scott Hall, there will be some uncomfortable things there.

Indeed, WWE is perhaps the microcosm of how Hollywood handles these things, often morally right but knee-jerk and 'act now - we can always fix later'.

In Benoit's case, medical evidence came out that showed he might not have been medically responsible. Not a defence or excuse in most people's eyes and certainly not a 'free pass', but a reason for a senseless crime.

Time will tell how the Hogan story plays out, is there more to come to justify the burial? Seemingly there is and he's now onto homophobic comments if it's true.

Either way, the world isn't condemning Hogan in the way his former employer seem to be, Facebook is awash with fun memes and while it's not a funny situation, people could be being a lot harsher on the man than they are.

At the end of the day, stars are humans too. They make mistakes, get in trouble and often need the same help we do. Problem is, when you're a star, there's a LOT further to fall and many will want to see that.

For an employer, be that a show, movie producer or even fellow actors or musicians, there is a risk then attached to working with you. Even if you are innocent. In Hogan's case, whatever he had done was no longer worth the damage done to WWE's reputation.

Someone like Polanski, he still works with some of Hollywood's best, but would Bill Cosby now get such a pass? Probably not.

What do you think?

Should stars who make a mistake like this get a second chance or is it "one strike"?

Let me know in the comments below.


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