Lots of rappers say they won’t snitch, but Lil’ Kim has the perjury conviction to prove it. When her entourage got into a shootout with friends of rival Foxy Brown in downtown Manhattan following a Hot 97 interview in February 2001 (leaving one injured), the trash-talking sex freak behind hits like “How Many Licks?” and “Magic Stick,” told police she hadn’t been near the shooting. She changed her tune in front of a grand jury, but asserted that manager D-Roc, a shooting suspect, wasn’t present, and that she didn’t even know bodyguard C-Gutta, also accused. After witnesses had them leaving the scene in the same limo, D-Roc and C-Gutta were sentenced to over ten years each, and Kim was up for perjury.
Lil’ Kim claimed innocence – how was she expected to remember if her manager had shot people in front of her? But thanks to damning testimony from Junior M.A.F.I.A. members Cease and Banger, she was found guilty and sentenced to a year and a day for being less than forthcoming. [Photo: Getty]
Unlike most rappers, Eminem has never felt the need to pretend his romantic life consists solely of anonymous sex with an ever-growing stable of hoes. The megastar has been a one-woman man for most his life, and he’s not afraid to say her name: Kim. He’s also not afraid to brutally murder her in song and beat a blow-up doll of her on stage. What can you say? He’s a heart-on-his-sleeve kind of guy.
The couple first met as young teenagers in 1989, and had a daughter, Hailie Jade, five years later. But the couple didn’t marry until after the release of his breakthrough album, 1999’s The Slim Shady LP. Despite the album’s “’97 Bonnie & Clyde,” in which Eminem takes his daughter to a lake to help dump her mother’s dead body, Kim hoped marrying would keep him faithful on tour. It didn’t. But it wasn’t until after 2000’s “Kim,” a prequel to “Bonnie” which described his wife’s murder in gory detail (“bleed, bitch, bleed!”), that their family drama made headlines.
River Phoenix‘s 1993 overdose was not the first tragic death of a young actor nor the last, but you wouldn’t know it from the number of songs that have been written to honor and mourn the 23-year-old Hollywood casualty. Kurt Cobain, REM, Beyoncé, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rufus Wainwright, Tom Petty, and many others have paid musical respect to the handsome young star, whose death from a mix of heroin and cocaine helped highlight the rise of heroin chic.
River didn’t live long enough to become a true matinee idol (how many people have actually seen Running On Empty, which got him his Academy Award nom at 18?). But prominent roles in films ranging from My Own Private Idaho to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade promised a fascinating career for the Phoenix, who enamored many with his political activism. He had no previous drug history, and many were shocked when River died on the sidewalk outside of Johnny Depp‘s club, the Viper Room, following a night of hard partying. Brother Joaquin, who would eventually be nominated for an Oscar himself, almost quit acting after his desperate 911 call was played on TV.
Despite claims that River’s last words were “No paparazzi, I want anonymity,” a photographer broke into the funeral home, and sold a snap of his corpse to the National Enquirer for $5,000.
After more than 20 years of speculation (including congressional hearings and enough books to constitute a literary genre), the conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of John Kennedy broke in a big way thanks to Oliver Stone’s JFK, a three-hour epic stuffed with unforgettable cameos (John Candy‘s Nawlins lawyer and Kevin Bacon‘s Nixon-loving hustler – “fascism is coming back!” – deserve special mention) and so many potential conspirators (FBI, CIA, the Mafia, Communists, anti-Communists) that it’s unclear just who WASN’T on the grassy knoll.
Thanks to script leaks, articles lambasting the production as unconscionable and “insult to the intelligence” appeared only days into shooting. The furor hardly diminished when the film was finally released in 1992. Along with endless complaints of factual inaccuracies (Stone claims the movie is a “countermyth,” which means it’s completely full of it but in a good way), gay activists didn’t appreciate the film’s salacious treatment of alleged conspirators’ homosexuality, particularly the costumed orgy between Bacon, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones and Joe Pesci. Yes, Joe Pesci.
Despite (or thanks to) the uproar, the film was a financial success and nominated for eight Oscars. Everyone from the Simpsons to Seinfeld paid comic homage, and in the ultimate sign of cultural saturation, Congress passed the JFK Records Act, promising the release of all files concerning the assassination by 2017. Only nine years till the truth is out!
If you asked anyone in 1998 where Robert Downey Jr. would be in ten years, you’d have heard “prison” or “dead” before “in one the biggest movies of the summer.” After all, that was the year that Downey, bleary-eyed and rocking orange prison threads, told a Los Angeles County judge his addictions were like “a loaded gun in my mouth … and I like the taste of gun-metal.”
Though Downey had been hooked on alcohol and drugs since the age of nine (thank his party-hearty director father), it wasn’t until 1996 that the Oscar-nominated actor hit the headlines with a series of bizarro arrests. One of the more notorious escapades involved Downey breaking into a neighbor’s empty house and passing out in a child’s bedroom. Another found him naked and speeding down Sunset Boulevard. Happy times!
Somehow Hollywood didn’t lose total faith in Downey, even when the actor, on parole and awaiting trial, was found confused and barefoot in Culver City, rather than learning his lines for a guest spot on Ally McBeal, whose producers promptly fired him. It wasn’t until two years later (with producer Mel Gibson paying his insurance bond) that he returned to action with The Singing Detective. After Downey appeared in a string of supporting roles, director Jon Favreau fought to have him play the titular hero in Iron Man, which grossed more than $300 million at the box office this year. Almost as surprising, button-downed Time magazine named the former junkie one of 2008’s most influential people.
Girl, you know it’s sad but true. Milli Vanilli were stripped of their Best New Artist Grammy in 1990 after producer Frank Farian revealed in a press conference that neither Fabrice Morvan nor Rob Pilatus actually performed on their multiplatinum debut, Girl You Know It’s True.
Though rumors had followed them for months (dancing to a skipping record on stage will get you those), it wasn’t until the duo demanded to sing on their next album that Farian admitted the hoax. Farian had hired the two aspiring models after deciding the actual singers didn’t have the same visual appeal as two dreadlocked dancers from Munich rocking shoulder pads and knee socks. B-b-b-b-baby!
Farian and his studio accomplices recorded a follow-up album as The Real Milli Vanilli, which — surprise! — really bombed. Rob and Fab, performing as Rob and Fab, also failed to regain even a fraction of their fan base. The duo eventually re-teamed with Farian with plans to make a new album, but Pilatus, who had recently gone through stints in jail and rehab, overdosed on pills and alcohol in 1998, only months after the group’s infamous “Behind The Music” episode aired.
Your song “Great Balls Of Fire” has just hit no. 1 on the charts, and will go on to become the biggest selling single in Sun Records history, topping hits from Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. What are you gonna do now? If you’re Jerry Lee Lewis, you’d go out and marry your 13-year-old second cousin? Despite telling reporters that wife Myra Gail Brown was a ripe 15-years-old, her true age — and the fact that he’d yet to divorce his previous wife — soon leaked, quickly putting the kibosh on the singer’s fledgling career.
Although the man known as “The Killer” (a nickname from childhood) would eventually score a series of country comeback hits, his flair for drama, romantic and otherwise, would follow him throughout his life. Cousin Myra divorced the singer in 1970, claiming abuse, and two later wives died from drowning and a drug overdose, respectively. Add a history of tax evasion, and you can see why a stomach ulcer almost killed him in 1981.
By 1962, sex symbol Marilyn Monroe had racked up an impressive list of ex-lovers and enemies to go with her cinema successes: outfielder Joe DiMaggio, playwright Arthur Miller, singer Frank Sinatra, wiseguy Sam Giancana, President John Kennedy and his brother Robert, the Attorney General. And those were just the household names. So when Monroe’s body was found in her Brentwood, California home early on August 4th, an apparent victim of a drug overdose at 36, the media could be forgiven for cooking up few conspiracy theories.
While her cause of death was listed as “probable suicide,” forensics now shows her overdose was probably caused by a sedative enema – not a way most people prefer to go. Did one of her doctors give her a bad prescription? Or was the enema a murder weapon? Witnesses, ignored by the police, claim that RFK entered the home with some goons around the same time she was telling friends on the phone that she was going to reveal secrets about the Attorney General and his President brother. There were also reports of an ambulance coming and going from the house before the discovery of her corpse, also suggesting that her handlers had something to hide.
With nearly everyone involved now dead, it seems unlikely we’ll ever know the full story. But whether her “probable suicide” was an accident, Kennedy-sponsored murder or just what investigators claimed it to be, few who knew Monroe’s emotional issues and chemical addictions thought she would have lived much longer. As Miller later said, “It had to happen. I didn’t know when or how, but it was inevitable.”
Even in the unsettling world of rock star deaths, few were as shocking as the murder of Beatle John Lennon, shot outside his Manhattan apartment in 1980 by a fan who had asked for the singer’s autograph hours earlier.
Thanks to both the worldwide success of the Beatles and Lennon’s strident political activism (which almost got him extradited from his adopted country in the early ’70s), many presumed that his death was politically motivated, coming so soon after the release of his first album since 1975. But killer Mark David Chapman was driven only by psychological delusions and a hunger for fame. Despite protests from his lawyer, Chapman refused to plead insanity, and was found guilty of second-degree murder.
Lennon’s tragically shortened life has since been the subject of countless documentaries and books, and Chapman eventually got his own biopic, the flop Chapter 27, starring Jared Leto. Chapman, who was sentenced to 20 years to life, has been denied parole three times despite an “exemplary disciplinary record.” Because of the high profile of his crime, it’s unlikely he’ll ever be released from prison.
“The heart wants what it wants,” says Woody Allen, which is probably the only reason a middle-aged man could ever give for hooking up with his babymama’s adopted daughter. Mia Farrow thought everything was fine between her and her director boyfriend in 1992 when she accidentally stumbled upon a series of nude photographs of the 22-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, which Allen had accidentally left on his mantle. D’oh!
Despite Allen’s claims that there was nothing remotely incestuous about the relationship (He barely knew Soon-Yi was alive until her mom asked him to take her to a basketball game!), the media quickly leaped on the story, which broke during the filming of Husbands & Wives the same year. In the film, Allen is tempted to cheat on Farrow with a young college student. Perhaps the credits should have read, “Inspired by a true story.”
Since the public furor and a contentious child custody case ended, Allen has continued to knock out a movie a year without interruption, and has now been with Soon-Yi (who he married in 1997) for longer than he was originally with Farrow. Allen has credited their marital success to a “paternal feeling” on his part. Yeah, that’s not creepy at all.