6 Amazing Stories Of Celebrities Getting Petty Revenge
If revenge is a dish best served cold, petty vindictiveness is a lukewarm, soggy salad you choke down as you fantasize about reaping a terrible if strangely mundane vengeance on your oppressors. Man, if only you were rich and famous, you'd have the resources, connections, and lawyers to actually get away with your long-term fantasy of pooping on the hood of your supervisor's car after he passed you over for promotion for the third time this year.
The thing is, when people actually become famous, they totally retain that ability to hold petty grudges ... and sometimes, they act out on them in insanely, deliciously petty ways.
Burt Reynolds Decorates A Gossip Magazine's Christmas Tree (With Poop)
For those of you who are too young to remember or plain don't care about the heyday of the National Enquirer, it was (and still is, if you venture to the stickier section of Walmart's magazine stands) basically what would happen if BuzzFeed and Perez Hilton spent a steamy night together and wiped off the excess terror liquids with a nearby magazine.
Since he emerged from the Mustache Swamps in the late 1970s, one of the Enquirer's perennial targets has been none other than Burt Reynolds, who came to loathe the magazine's "exposes" so much that it's more or less considered his nemesis.
"I mean, what did I ever do to attract the attention of tabloid reporters?"
Between 1972 and 1988, the magazine had a very peculiar tradition: Every December, its owner would erect an enormous Christmas tree in front of the Enquirer's headquarters in Lantana, Florida. It had 280,000 lights and a train with 320 cars riding on 1,700 feet of tracks, and it was said to be the world's tallest Christmas tree. The Enquirer tree was something of a tourist attraction, and Burt Reynolds hated this. So, one Christmas, he decided to use it as a vessel for his vengeance. But what could he do about it? All he had on hand was a giant stable full of horses, the number of a good helicopter rental service, and no particular plans for the holidays. Surely some form of poetic justice against the magazine that had flung shit at him for years would eventually come to him, as soon as he did something about those giant mounds of horseshit in his backyard ...
Yes, I'm saying that Burt Reynolds once rented a helicopter, strapped two huge nets of horse manure under it, flew to the National Enquirer Christmas tree, and damn well dumped that poop all over it, and yes, you're welcome. Hell, if you don't believe me, here's the man recounting the tale himself.
Tragically, there's no "after" photo, but let the eye of your mind go to town with a "before" one.
Bill Murray's Wrath Comes In The Form Of A ... Personal Assistant?
As the entire internet has told us time and time again, Bill Murray is a national treasure and professional randomness elemental who is at least as famous for his off-time hijinks as he is for his extensive movie career. At this point, you can hardly Google the guy's name without him rappelling through your kitchen window, stealing a single chicken nugget from your fridge, and running away, screaming, "No one will ever believe you!"
The thing many people forget is that while Murray's chosen existence as a trickster god inhabiting the body of a talented actor is good for roughly every internet point in existence, actually working with the guy could get pretty challenging. Fellow Ghostbuster and esteemed comedy director Harold Ramis found this out the hard way in 1993, while shooting Groundhog Day. We all know how the end result turned out (a goddamned masterpiece, and I'll drunkenly attempt to drop-kick you if you disagree), but it soon became apparent to the production staff that getting there was going to be like pulling teeth while attempting to herd a clowder of angry cats, if Murray had any say in the matter (which he had).
As befits a man who hangs out with the Wu-Tang.
Murray had his reservations about the production and dealt with the situation by being as unreachable as he could be without actually faking his death. Calls went unanswered and unreturned. Production assistants couldn't find Murray anywhere. And when they actually did reach him, things weren't necessarily any better: Murray's first marriage was rapidly disintegrating, which brought a generous layer of crankiness to his already aloof nature. Even Ramis, who had already collaborated with Murray five times, described dealing with his compatriot's mood thusly: "I learned to step back. You don't step in front of a train. You just let it go by."
But the movie had to be made, and its star had to be reached. So one day, some brave soul in the production told Murray, "Bill, you know, things would be easier if you had a personal assistant. Then we wouldn't have to bother you with all this stuff." To which Murray, presumably infuriated by his impending divorce, a movie he wanted little to do with, and a bunch of people who were bothering him with petty shit like "schedules" and "Oh god please tell us you haven't been eaten by a bear, it's been a week and we're worried," reacted in a manner most ferocious: "OK," he said, and wandered off to hire a personal assistant.
Wait for it ...
A personal assistant who just so happened to be completely deaf and could only communicate through sign language.
Which neither Murray nor anyone in the production could understand.
Still, despite this impressive, back-breaking coup de grace of anti-communication, the movie did get made. So you know what? I'm going to give Bill Murray a pass here. Clearly this is a case of life imitating art: He started out as a cranky fucker but got stuck in a time loop on the worst day of the production and figured out on his 10,000th repeat of that day that the only way to break the cycle was to step back from his personal shittiness and give an unfortunate deaf person their big break. After all, a person with "a personal assistant to Bill fucking Murray" in their CV will never go unemployed in their lives, hearing or no hearing.
Noel Gallagher Spent Years Convincing His Brother That Ghosts Exist
"Brothers," "bandmates," and "drunk, grumpy Brits" are all concepts that rank highly on the list of Things That Will Probably End Up In A Fight. So it's not exactly shocking that Noel Gallagher from Oasis has been feuding with his bandmate/brother Liam pretty much throughout their career, presumably over which of them should get to reign supreme over the two eyebrows they share between them. However, the list of their many insults, barbs, and right hooks tends to exclude some of their more cerebral acts of petty vengeance, particularly my favorite one: Noel systematically pulled a years-long con to convince Liam that ghosts are real.
"Why, yes, I am the big brother. How did you guess?"
Things started small: If the band was anywhere even remotely spooky (which, touring in Britain and staying in local hotels, was presumably about 95 percent of their time), Noel made remarks that the place was clearly haunted, particularly the room Liam ended up staying in. Eventually, matters escalated, and Noel recruited help. By 1996, when they were recording Be Here Now at remote Ridge Farm in Surrey, people would sneak into Liam's room when he was away and alter it in small yet noticeable ways, turning the pictures on the walls back to front or moving furniture ever so slightly around, to Noel's endless amusement and Liam's growing phasmophobia.
"What bass player, drummer, and rhythm guitarist are you talking about, Liam? We've always been a duo."
Sadly, the story doesn't reveal exactly how many years this went on. Noel only recently shared the story in the media, so although I assume Liam figured out the prank eventually, a part of me wants to believe that he found out only when the story ran: Warily browsing the web while sitting inside a ring of salt in a room full of garlic and crosses, he spots his elder brother's name in a headline, idly clicks the link, and, after a full minute of silence, slowly whispers, "That motherf-"
Obviously, he can never finish the sentence, because that's when the ghosts attack.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt Turns The Camera On The Paparazzi
In 2006, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's days as the kid from 3rd Rock From The Sun were well behind him, but he had not quite graduated from the school of What Shia LaBeouf Could've Been If He Wasn't So Damn Annoying with a Summa Cum Laude in Looper, Inception, and The Dark Knight Rises. As such, he was in a weird place with the paparazzi: He knew more than enough to be wary of the fuckers but hadn't yet been worn down to the inevitable "barely avoids the temptation to beat them to a pulp with their own cameras" stage.
Picture unrelated, probably.
One day, when Gordon-Levitt was walking about with a friend, some particularly annoying paparazzi started pestering him. Instead of yelling at them and/or summoning a horde of bodyguards to beat them up, he decided to get creative. He whipped out his camera and turned it on them, calmly interviewing them as he reveled in their growing frustration and annoyance, slowly coaxing them to explain their motivation of chasing celebrities and how they hoped to get pictures that would specifically make him seem gay.
Wait, how do we know the course of his dickhead-shaming mental curb stomp session so accurately? Oh, that would be because of this:
Yeah, Gordon-Levitt wasn't satisfied with just turning the tables on his stalkers. He edited the footage into a short film with the descriptive title Pictures of Assholes (based on how the paparazzi initially introduce themselves) ... and put it on YouTube for all the world to see, complete with a video description featuring some helpful background notes about the situation and commentary on the abrasive nature of modern celebrity. Moral of the story, paparazzi: Never bring a camera to a video camera fight.
Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras Go Nuts In A Charity Match
To say tennis stars Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras didn't get along professionally is to say that North Korea and South Korea wouldn't necessarily go to prom together. In their very first match in 1989, Agassi flat out stated that Sampras would never make it as a pro. Sampras responded by upping his game, beating Agassi the very next year, and spending the next two decades fighting him for the world's No. 1 tennis player spot. By Sampras' retirement in 2002, he had beaten Agassi's ass in 20 of their 34 overall matches. Agassi retired a few years later, the men publicly claimed mutual respect, and one of the most legendary feuds in tennis was seemingly over for good ...
Seeing as they had clearly grown so comfortable with each other's company.
... until 2010, when the two met once again in a charity doubles match in California and proceeded to shit all over each other in a way that would prompt public apologies later down the line (generally a bad sign when it comes to charity events). Agassi mocked Sampras by imitating his peculiar pigeon-toed walk and making the crowd laugh at him. In a charity match. Their back-and-forth match banter, which started out amicable, soon turned testy, which probably wouldn't have been so noticeable if they hadn't been wearing microphones for the benefit of the crowd, because again, this was a charity match. Soon, Agassi was giving shit to Sampras over his reputation as a stingy dude. Seeing as this public reputation had been created by Agassi himself, who had accused Sampras of being a bad tipper in his book, this was finally enough for things to get physical: Sampras promptly served a hard, high shot aimed right at Agassi's head, forcing Agassi to duck. This would be considered a dick move in the most dangerous underground tennis circles, let alone in a goddamned charity match.
All the while, both men were smiling to the crowds. The fact that neither turned up for the post-match press conference was probably just a coincidence.
Mark Twain Makes A Minor Enemy National News
Hey, look! Turns out celebrities from the past were at it, too!
Technically speaking, Mark Twain wasn't yet quite the superstar he would later become when he utterly annihilated Judge Sewall with a single newspaper article. The year was 1862, and Twain was still at the Batman Begins stage of his career, learning his trade as plain ol' Samuel Clemens, newest employee of the Territorial Enterprise, a newspaper in Virginia City, Nevada. During his stay in the city, Twain had had problems with Sewall, a local politician he considered a bit of an idiot. So he decided to combine business and personal matters by writing a satirical news story about the amazing (and 100 percent fake) scientific discovery of a strange, petrified man that had been found in the area, casting Sewall as the person who had investigated the body and declared that it should stay where it was, instead of giving it a proper burial. And really, that's the bare minimum you can expect when you feud with Mark fucking Twain, even in his pupal stage.
However, here's the thing: Twain had intended his story as an amusing piece of satire, and nothing else. What he didn't realize was that at the time, absolutely no one but Mark Twain understood the concept, let alone knew to expect it in a newspaper article.
Even Twain's illustration of the Petrified Man didn't help matters.
Petrification stories were all the rage at the time -- this was another target of the article's satire -- so newspapers all over the area picked Twain's story up. For months to come, variations of the tale were running in the papers of large cities all over the country, and according to Twain, it even popped up in the medical journal London Lancet. And all the while, Judge Sewall's completely fabricated and extremely unwanted reputation as a prospector of petrified people grew.
Still, the soon-to-be-famous writer might have gone full Mark Twain on Sewall, but at least it was an accident, right? Well, sure -- but the fact that the story goes on to describe how Twain gleefully collected copies of every single newspaper that ran the story and personally sent them to Sewall is something else altogether. He did it for 11 goddamned months. Mark, dude, what the fuck? That's not America's favorite writer being cheeky, that's borderline serial killer territory. What ... what did this guy do to you? You "had a temporary falling out"? Seriously? That's ... that's all it takes?
"No kill like overkill, homeslice."
OK, guys, new rule: Never, ever piss Mark Twain off. I don't care that the guy's been dead for a century; there's no way a man who'll fuck up a barely registering enemy that badly without even really trying isn't a vengeful ghost floating around, looking for people to torment. Though maybe if you find yourself face to face with him, you can just convince him to go give the Gallagher brothers a visit.
Pauli Poisuo is a Cracked weekly columnist and freelance editor. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.
For more check out 7 Celebrity Pranks That Backfired Horrifically and 5 Famous People Whose Best Work Was Motivated By Revenge.
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