5 Beloved Celebrities Everyone Forgets Did Terrible Things
"Blaaaaaaack people, y'got me on my knees, blaaaaack people, c'mon won't you please all leave or die ..." The strange thing about celebrity scandals like the recent Paula Deen racism controversy is how inconsistent we are with our outrage. We forever remember Michael Richards for screaming racial slurs, and Charlie Sheen will always be a punchline, but the vast majority of the world has forgotten that ...
Jimmy Page Kidnapped a 14-Year-Old Girl
Jimmy Page is basically the reason you think guitars are awesome. His run with some rinky-dink garage band called Led Zeppelin set the benchmark for all hard rock and metal to come, while simultaneously pissing off any amateur guitarist who thought "Stairway to Heaven" didn't sound too difficult.
And sure, he was no slouch in the deviant rock star department either, with tales of the band's outrageous behavior still being talked about today ("I heard they once used a live shark as a dildo!"). But that's par for the course, right? We like a little debauchery with our rock stars.
Of course, debauchery has its limits, such as kidnapping a 14-year-old girl, having sex with her, and keeping her behind closed doors for years so as to avoid jail time. Which, as you probably already figured, Page totally did.
In 1972, Page was hanging around a nightclub and laid eyes on 14-year-old Lori Maddox. He liked what he saw and didn't give a shit that she was underage by, well, a lot. Why should he, after all? The club clearly didn't.
As the young, handsome lead guitarist in the biggest rock band in the world, Page was probably very shy and awkward around girls. So, instead he sent roadie Richard Cole to Maddox's table with the message, "Jimmy told me that he's going to have you whether you like it or not." The roadie then grabbed her and chucked her in the back of a limo, saying, "You fucking move and I'll fucking have your head."
From there, they drove back to Page's house, where he and Maddox proceeded to have lots and lots of dirty illegal sex. Of course, Page knew this was incredibly wrong, and if word got out, he was screwed. So he did the only responsible thing he could think of: for three long years, Maddox was for the most part kept behind closed doors so the relationship with Page wasn't discovered and he wouldn't end up in jail.
Why You Forgot About It:
It was a different time, we guess? Obviously Page never went to jail or got arrested, and Maddox actually stayed with him for years afterward, calling him "romantic." We're going to guess it was classic Stockholm syndrome. We'll just quote Maddox's own words from the book Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga: "It was magnificent. Can you believe it? It was just like right out of a story! Kidnapped, man, at 14!"
Yes, right out of "a story," the type that usually ends with Liam Neeson chopping the kidnapper in the throat.
Motley Crue's Lead Singer Killed Someone While Drunk Driving
Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin were plenty outrageous, but Motley Crue may well have had them beat. Known and loved as the hardest rocking (and hardest partying) band on the planet, Motley Crue have sold 90 million albums over their 30-year career. More importantly, their off-stage antics helped put the children of every cocaine dealer in Los Angeles through college.
Their shenanigans were so over-the-top crazy, it almost made them caricatures, lovable parodies of the hedonistic '80s. Of course, not everything they did was lovable. Like the time one of them killed a man.
On December 8, 1984, lead singer Vince Neil was having a party at his house. The party was on day three, and booze was running low, so Vince jumped in the car to drive himself and his rocker friend Razzle to the liquor store. You know where this is going.
A drunken Vince was speeding the entire time, not because the liquor store was about to close, but because "over the limit" was basically Motley Crue's catchphrase, and he was all but contractually obligated to be a crazy idiot all the time. Naturally, he soon lost control of the car and collided head-on with a Volkswagen coming the other way. Razzle was killed instantly, and the two people in the other car were hospitalized, with one comatose for a month.
Why You Forgot About It:
Money and fame have their benefits.
Neil was convicted of DUI and vehicular manslaughter, which could've brought him up to 10 years in prison. This didn't happen; in fact, almost nothing happened. Being a superstar, Neil had enough money to pay for the weaseliest lawyer available. Said lawyer managed to talk down the sentence to 30 days in jail, five years' probation, and $2.5 million in fines. Oh, and Neil only served 20 of those 30 days because Motley Crue had a tour scheduled and, as any criminal will tell you, the courts are very understanding of this sort of thing. Next time you're in this situation, tell them you can't go to jail because you'd miss your overnight shift at Walmart.
Even Neil himself recognized that he got off scot-free, saying, "I wrote a $2.5 million check for vehicular manslaughter when Razzle died. I should have gone to prison. I definitely deserved to go to prison. But I did 30 days in jail and got laid and drank beer, because that's the power of cash. That's fucked up."
Not so fucked up that it's stopped Neil from driving under the influence several times since then, of course. But at least he admitted it that one time.
Sean Penn Tied Up and Then Beat the Crap Out of Madonna
Sean Penn is known for two things: acting and taking regular shits on right-wing politics. When the phrase "Hollywood liberal" gets tossed around, Penn is often one of the first examples mentioned. The Iraq War was perhaps his finest moment, as he spared no expense in letting the world know exactly how he felt about young people dying for oil. Over and over again.
So it's easy to think of him as a Bono type, a guy who might be annoying, but only because he cares about the suffering in the world too much.
While married to Madonna, Sean Penn pulled a Chris Brown that out-Chris Browned Chris Brown before there even was a Chris Brown.
The two then-rising stars were married in 1985, although nobody really knows why, since the whole thing was a mess from the start. Sure, Penn was a ragehead who dealt with annoying paparazzi by shooting at them, dangling them upside down from balconies, and smacking them with rocks. But that's not what we're talking about here; his knack for doing the same kind of stuff to Madonna, however, very much is.
Penn and Madonna would get into violent arguments all the time, and it probably didn't help that Penn drank so much every night that even Andre the Giant would've told him to slow it the fuck down. Finally, in 1988, after Penn flew into a rage over Madonna's supposed affair with Warren Beatty, she called the marriage off. Penn responded by turning his abusive nutcase dial up to 11.
After he got good and drunk (again), Penn climbed into Madonna's house, where she was alone. He then grabbed her, tied her to a chair, and assaulted her for hours, both physically and emotionally. He then went out for more booze, came back, and kept up the beating. Madonna only escaped after telling Penn that she had to go to the bathroom, which meant he had no problem battering, beating, bloodying, and bruising the supposed love of his life, but felt it would have been too degrading to make her pee in front of him.
Why You Forgot About It:
While Penn was arrested, the charges were dropped because Madonna didn't want to generate a media circus, which may have been the one and only time in her life that Madonna actually wanted the press to go away. A couple of decades of political activism and two Oscars later, and the world barely remembers an incident that would turn most people into a pariah. But hey, can we really blame him for the immature mistakes he made when he was only, uh, 25 years old?
Charles Dickens Split from His Wife in the Most Assholish Manner Imaginable
Don't let us imply that dickish celebrity behavior is some kind of recent phenomenon. For instance, there is classic author Charles Dickens.
Charles Dickens' ability to market orphans as adorable made him one of the few literary geniuses who actually got recognized during his lifetime. He was basically the 19th century version of a rock star. And just like a good little rock star, he dumped his aging wife for an 18-year-old actress, and didn't give a shit who knew it.
It's one thing to end a marriage; it's quite another to make your hatred of your spouse as public as humanly possible, which is exactly what Dickens did. In 1836, a then-unknown Dickens married Catherine Hogarth; by all accounts, it was a pleasant enough marriage, resulting in 10 children. Then, Catherine got fat. This was apparently an unforgivable sin in the Dickens household, where the ability to push out 10 kids must surely mean you can at least do a couple push-ups right after.
So he went and got himself a mistress, 18-year-old actress Ellen Ternan. Now, cheating on your wife because she got old and overweight is bad, but what happened next truly exposed Dickens as a douche on the level of any evil orphanage shutter-downer in his books. Once his affair was made public in 1858, he went on the warpath, slandering his estranged wife in newspaper after newspaper and letter after letter. According to him, Catherine was a "donkey," an "unloving and unloved mother," not his intellectual equal, and entirely to blame for saddling him with so many noisy-ass children. What, was he banging her under the influence of hypnosis?
His annoyance over so many kids didn't stop him from claiming custody of nine of them, with only the oldest, Charles Jr., being financially independent enough to flip his father the finger and stay with his mother.
Why You Forgot About It:
Creating that whole "White Christmas" thing helped keep Dickens in the public's good graces, but so did Catherine's outright refusal to rebut. She never reacted to Dickens' abuse and never rebuffed his public letters, or even spoke to a journalist. Literally her only comeback came on her deathbed in 1879 when she handed over a collection of letters Dickens wrote her, with the simple request, "Give these to the British Museum, that the world may know he loved me once."
Goddammit, who let all these chopped onions and dust mites into the room all of a sudden?
Eric Clapton Is Incredibly Racist
Depending on who you talk to, Eric Clapton is either a hardcore blues legend or the king of vanilla soft rock. Yeah, he gave us "Layla," but he also forced us to deal with "Wonderful Tonight"; both were monster hits, proving that everyone loves Clapton, and Clapton loves everyone.
Unless you're a filthy colored immigrant, that is, in which case, he kind of wants you to get the shit out of Britain.
Eric Clapton is an unapologetic follower of first-class douche Enoch Powell, a member of the British Conservative Party and full-blown racist. His 1968 "Rivers of Blood" speech, which basically foretold of an England in tatters if (non-white) immigration was allowed to run rampant, was ridiculously controversial and seriously damaged his political career. But Clapton stood by him.
In 1974, six years after Enoch was drummed out of political life by his remarks, a drunken Clapton was performing at a concert in Birmingham, and apparently saw an Arab man leering at his wife. This was too much for Clapton, who began a diatribe lambasting "wogs," "blacks," "Jamaicans," and anyone else who lived in England and wasn't white. No official recording exists of the speech, but some choice quotes that witnesses agree on include Clapton saying, "I think Enoch's right ... we should send them all back. Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!" and that Britain was on its way to becoming "a black colony."
Clapton then picked up his guitar and went right back to covering songs originally performed by black people.
Why You Forgot About It:
The lack of actual footage of him saying it helped, despite the large number of people reporting on it (and a whole anti-racism movement being launched thanks to his comments). When asked about it, Clapton bafflingly says that of course he isn't a racist, but still insists that Powell was "outrageously brave" and "misunderstood," and that his own views on the matter haven't changed. Hey, you can't say he's not consistent.
Lachlan tweets when he isn't busy pointing out why Sean Penn is a dickhead. Javier Yepes lives in Cambodia, you can write him at email@example.com, and he would appreciate you giving your sexy Internet likes to his friends' film company.
For more reasons why you shouldn't trust celebrities, check out 5 Bizarre Outbursts By Celebrities You Thought Were Sane and 5 Reasons You Should Never Take Advice from Celebrities.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Astounding Screw-Ups Government Workers Failed to Notice .
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Related Reading: Still have a celebrity crush on John Lennon? Well, he was an abusive asshole who beat women. And if you'd like your respect for Tom Hanks to take a nose dive, read about his lost glove obsession and shake your head in rueful silence. But hey, don't fret- every celebrity isn't a shithead. Tom Cruise routinely saves lives, and Johnny Depp is pretty darn nice too.
There are angels, and they are not beneficent or loving. Check out the first two books in Robert Brockway's Vicious Circuit series, and pre-order the third, Kill All Angels, available December 26th.