Scandals and tragic events in Hollywood history

1995: Selena murdered by the president of her fanclub
2003: the murder of Lana Clarkson
Lana Clarkson's killer: Phil Spector
1988: Drew Barrymore (14) checks into rehab
2010: Megan Fox vs Michael Bay
1962: the mysterious death of Marilyn Monroe
1967: Jayne Mansfield dies in a car crash
1995: Hugh Grant's arrest
1993: Brandon Lee dies on set
1987: Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Gray's accident
A fatal car accident
1959: Errol Flynn, the 'Big Player,' dies
1982: the curse of Poltergeist
2018: Harvey Weinstein arrested
Weinstein: 23 years in jail
1921: Fatty Arbuckle drinks too much
Virginia Rappe
Fatty's trial and demise
2006: Mel Gibson's arrest and his antisemitic comments
2009: Brittany Murphy's mysterious death
The house did it!
2011: Charlie Sheen fired from 'Two and a Half Men'
1993: Heidi Fleiss, the 'Madame of Hollywood,' arrested
2009: David Carradine's strange death
1990: tragedy in Marlon Brandon's family
1969: the death of Sharon Tate, Roman Polanski's wife
Five murders on Cielo Drive
Charles Manson: horror of Hollywood
Manson's Girls
1977: Roman Polanski's downfall
1995: Selena murdered by the president of her fanclub

A star in the U.S. Latin music scene, singer and actress Selena died at age 23 when the president of her fanclub shot her. Selena had done some business with her number one fan, but she fired her after discovering various irregularities. Selena was about to make it in Hollywood. Shortly before her death she had made a cameo in 'Don Juan De Marco', the film with Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando.

2003: the murder of Lana Clarkson

The actress died in 2003 from a gunshot in the mansion of Phil Spector, musical producer of stars such as The Beatles and Leonard Cohen. Phil Spector's defence was contradictory: it was an accidental shot, he said, and it was a suicide.

 

Lana Clarkson's killer: Phil Spector

In a first murder trial of the music producer, the jury was unable to reach a verdict. When the trial was repeated, Phil Spector got 18 years in prison. He passed away before completing that term, in 2021.

1988: Drew Barrymore (14) checks into rehab

Drew Barrymore (a descendant of one of Hollywood's most respected families of performers) became a star at the age of six when she performed in 'E.T.'. Everything happened so quickly for her that at the age of 13 she was already a regular user of alcohol and cocaine. When she was 14, Barrymore went to a detox centre and managed to get clean.

2010: Megan Fox vs Michael Bay

Michael Bay is a director with a reputation for being despotic. His notoriety grew when Megan Fox announced that she was leaving 'Transformers' and that she would never shoot with Michael Bay again, adding that he was 'just like Hitler.'

1962: the mysterious death of Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe is an iconic and eternal image of Hollywood. She allegedly had an affair with President John F. Kennedy, and her tragic end (on August 5, 1962 due to an overdose of barbiturates) triggered numerous conspiracy theories. Did she herself end her life, was it an accident, or did the secret service eliminate her because of her inconvenient relationship with Kennedy? We still don't have a definite answer.

1967: Jayne Mansfield dies in a car crash

Jayne Mansfield was a Hollywood star who tried in vain to take Marilyn Monroe's place. She was already widely known by the time she died, but the legend of her demise made her even more famous. Mansfield was in a car crash, and rumour had it she was decapitated. It wasn't true, but some photos in tabloids showed her blond wig on the asphalt and fed the confusion.

(Image: Netherlands National Archives)

1995: Hugh Grant's arrest

In 1995, the British actor was arrested in Los Angeles when police caught him in a car next to the prostitute Divine Brown. People Magazine published a report with all the details of the sordid episode and Hugh Grant, who was preparing to premiere his romantic comedy 'Nine Months', had to embark on a tour on television to apologize and ensure everyone that he was very sorry.

1993: Brandon Lee dies on set

The son of Bruce Lee had only a brief career. He died in 1993 at the age of 28 during a shoot for the movie 'The Crow.' For the scene, Brandon Lee got shot with blank ammo. When director Alex Proyas yelled "Cut!", Brandon Lee did not get up, and he was not acting. The injuries he incurred from the blank shots were fatal.

1987: Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Gray's accident

Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Gray were two young Hollywood celebs at the height of their fame. They had met on the set of 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' and fallen in love. In 1987, the two twenty-somethings decided to take a road trip in Northern Ireland. It was a fateful holiday.

(Image: still from 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off,' 1986)

A fatal car accident

In a dark moment, while driving in the countryside in heavy rain, their car crashed with another. Two women in the other vehicle died. Matthew and Jennifer recovered from their injuries and were cleared from liability of the accident. Still, it was a traumatizing event for the couple.

1959: Errol Flynn, the 'Big Player,' dies

Actor Errol Flynn died at age 50. When the coroner examined his body he could not imagine how Flynn had survived that long. He had been a drinker in very large amounts, a compulsive smoker, and he's been capable (as Truman Capote attested) to play the piano with his 'member' at wild Hollywood parties.

1982: the curse of Poltergeist

There is speculation of a curse affecting the 'Poltergeist' cast. The film's young protagonist who said "they're here!" (actress Heather O'Rourke) died at the age of 12. She had an intestinal obstruction which was an extremely unusual cause of death. Another actress, Dominique Dunne, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1982. And then there are the supposed paranormal phenomena experienced during the filming of the different parts of this film saga.

(Image: still from 'Poltergeist')

2018: Harvey Weinstein arrested

The long Hollywood tradition of tyrannical producers and actress stalkers was topped by producer Harvey Weinstein. Accused of abuse and portrayed as an unscrupulous sexual predator by a large number of women in showbiz, his downfall has been the latest major scandal in the American film industry.

Weinstein: 23 years in jail

According to the American press, Weinstein spent 44 million dollars to reach out-of-court settlements that would prevent him from going through several trials. From the 2018 arrest he could not escape, however. In February of 2020, after a long and shocking trial, Weinstein was found guilty of rape. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

1921: Fatty Arbuckle drinks too much

Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle was one of the greatest figures in silent film and a brilliant comedian prior to the stardom of Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton. His rampant passion for alcohol and escapades ruined his career, however.

Virginia Rappe

On the night of September 5-6, 1921, he went into a San Francisco hotel with the young, aspiring actress Virginia Rappe. The next morning, her lifeless body was found in the hotel room.

Fatty's trial and demise

The sensationalist press spoke of aberrant practices, but forensic doctors noted accidental death from high alcohol intake. But even after his acquittal, Fatty Arbuckle was expelled from the film industry. He then suffered an alcohol overdose himself at age 46.

2006: Mel Gibson's arrest and his antisemitic comments

Mel Gibson has a long history of chauvinist, racist and homophobic actions and statements. He was sentenced for mistreatment of a couple, he shouted in full drunkenness that "the Jews are guilty of all wars", he assured that nobody could confuse him with a gay man, he threatened to kill a critic, he spit on an Israeli journalist, and he destroyed the house of his partnering scriptwriter Joe Eszthernas because he did not like how their project was going.

2009: Brittany Murphy's mysterious death

20 December 2009. Actress Brittany Murphy dies a mysterious death in her home at age 32. A first autopsy states "natural death," then pneumonia. Meanwhile, however, numerous media speculate that Murphy was unhappy because she went through several periods in which she lost a lot of weight. What happened to Brittany Murphy?

The house did it!

A new turn of events happens when five months later, Brittany Murphy's widower (Simon Monjack) dies in the same house. Researchers detect a type of fungus in the house that may have caused the deadly pneumonia in both husband and wife. In 2011 a new report speaks of "metal poisoning."

2011: Charlie Sheen fired from 'Two and a Half Men'

Charlie Sheen is a scandal in person. He has led a life of excesses that he hasn't even bothered to hide: from destroying hotel rooms to hiring escorts, consumption of various toxic goods, alcohol and tobacco. All this led to his expulsion from 'Two and a Half Men'.

1993: Heidi Fleiss, the 'Madame of Hollywood,' arrested

When Heidi Fleiss was arrested in 1993, many men in Beverly Hills held their breath. She was called the 'Madame of Hollywood' and accused of facilitating luxury prostitution in the movie industry. Who were her clients? The media pointed fingers, made suggestions, and a great scandal was born. The few names that came to light included Charlie Sheen, which didn't surprise anyone and didn't bother the actor very much either. Heidi ended up serving 21 months in prison of a 37-month sentence.

2009: David Carradine's strange death

The former Kung Fu and superlative villain in 'Kill Bill' passed away in Bangkok on 3 June 2009. He was 72 years old. According to the autopsy, the cause of death was "fatal auto-asphyxiation".

1990: tragedy in Marlon Brandon's family

In 1990, Marlon Brandon's son Christian killed a man. The victim was Dag Drollet, the boyfriend of his half-sister Cheyenne. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and served four years in prison. Christian lived an unhappy life thereafter and died at the age of 49.

1969: the death of Sharon Tate, Roman Polanski's wife

This couple of an actress and a film director starred in one of the darkest episodes in Hollywood history. On August 8, 1969, the murder of a pregnant Sharon Tate in her own home marked the end of innocence for the hippie era. It would later inspire Quentin Tarantino to make 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.' The murder was also the beginning of Roman Polanski's demise.

Five murders on Cielo Drive

Sharon Tate was murdered by The Manson Family, a sect led by Charles Manson. They broke into her mansion on Cielo Drive in Los Angeles and murdered Tate and her four guests. They also painted the word PIG in blood on a door.

Charles Manson: horror of Hollywood

The next day, Manson and his followers would kill another couple in their home. The sect leader believed that the apocalypse had arrived, which he also called "the hour of the Helter Skelter" after a Beatles song. Charles Manson had wanted to be a pop star and failed, but he managed to attract a handful of followers willing to do anything for him.

Manson's Girls

One of the most shocking images of the Manson Family trial (which ended with life sentences for almost the entire sect) was the one of the young sect members, laughing and singing in front of the press as if nothing had happened.

1977: Roman Polanski's downfall

Meanwhile, Roman Polanski, Sharon Tate's widower, descended in a dark spiral of sex and drugs. In 1977 he was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl and fled the United States. His pending account with U.S. justice has been going on over the years. (In the picture, Polanksi is joined to his right by Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy.)

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