100 Greatest Celebrity Scandals Of All Time


#9: The Pamela Anderson And Tommy Lee Sex Tape

Just as it’s hard to imagine what life was like before the Internet, it’s hard to imagine what the Internet was like before it was full of celebrity sex tapes. In 1997, IEG Entertainment offered the world downloadable copies of Baywatch bombshell Pamela Anderson and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee celebrating their whirlwind 1995 marriage in a series of enthusiastic, onscreen sexual encounters.

As a nation marveled at the larger-than-life pairs that God and plastic surgeons had given the larger-than-life pair, a sleazy precedent was created: from that day forward, no celebrity’s PC or cell phone would be safe from hump-hungry hackers. And for all their outrage and legal action against those who profited from their purloined sexploits, no one benefited more from the tape’s release than Pam and Tom, whose name recognition skyrocketed in the months to come. Eventually, enterprising entertainers like Dustin Diamond and Chyna would actually provide their own erotic home videos to producers, in hopes of similarly profiting from a complete loss of dignity.

Celebrity-sex-tape culture has become so prevalent that Anderson went on to marry both Rick Salomon and Kid Rock, who appeared in pornographic romps of their own, with Paris Hilton and Creed’s Scott Stapp, respectively. Sounds like Pam has a type.


#8: Janet Jackson And Justin Timberlake’s Nipplegate

You can bump ‘n grind while simulating orgasm on MTV, and you can cram prime-time TV with cleavage galore, but you can’t bust out the right half of an R&B diva’s very substantial rack during the world’s most-watched sporting event. Justin Timberlake probably had no idea what kind of maelstrom he’d set off when, during the halftime show of the 2004 Superbowl, he ripped open Janet Jackson‘s bustier and her luscious boob popped out, replete with a sunburst nipple shield, The stunt – famously deemed a “wardrobe malfunction” – sparked over half a million complaints to the FCC, and framed Jackson a pop pariah.

The so-called Nipplegate scandal happened at a time when Jackson could have benefited from a little notoriety. But the dreary Damita Jo, released a few weeks later, kinda stiffed, and Jackson never pulled out of her career slump – a bummer. But perhaps the real bummer is that even the slightest whiff of sex has been banished from Superbowl acts ever since.


#7: Britney Spears Meltdown

Britney, light of our lives, fire of our loins! How do we love thee? Let us count the ways:

1. Your “One More Time” schoolgirl outfit. (Hands up, who rubbed one out to that?)

2. “Oops, I Did It Again.” The song that launched a thousand lazy Life & Style headlines.

3. Your 55-hour marriage to Jason Alexander, who later sold his story of shower-stall rutting to the tabs.

4. Swapping spit with Madonna at the MTV VMAs. (Our little skeez is all grown up now!)

5. Your reality show Britney & Kevin: Chaotic. Like I Love Lucy on Rohypnol.

6. F*cking Fred Durst. A mental picture that could make even grown men go “Ewwww!”

7. Driving with baby Sean Preston on your lap. Celebrities…they’re just like us!

8. Your impromptu tribute to Sinéad O’Connor.

9. Your VMAs comeback “performance.” (Still better than Bon Jovi.)

10. Your meth-fueled trips to Cedars-Sinai.

11. Dating one of the paparazzi who follow you around everyday. (And have a way of tying up our commute to the Scandalist office.)

12. The Blackout album. A lot better than most people think…[That’s enough Britney Spears –Ed.] — Charles Bottomley

After the jump, watch Britney sleepwalk through her VMAs “comeback.”

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#6: Charles Manson Murders

The hippie dream received a rude awakening in 1969 when Charles Manson, a failed musician, used psychedelics and “free love” (orgies, rape, that kind of thing) to transform a group of troubled, vulnerable young adults into a violent, psychotic “family.” His efforts eventually led to a series of grotesque murders in August 1969 (slogans like “DEATH TO PIGS” and “RISE” were written on the walls in blood) that horrified residents of the hills outside LA and stumped police for months.

Manson, in and out of jail for assault and robbery since the age of nine, prophesized that an apocalyptic battle between the races would end with Manson ruling the black populace as the new Jesus Christ alongside his fellow angels, The Beatles (who had not been informed of these plans). Anxious to get things started, he ordered members of his cult to massacre rich white Californians, hoping police would blame African-Americans for the crimes. Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski, and celebrity hair stylist Jay Sebring (the inspiration for Warren Beatty’s Shampoo) were among those stabbed and shot by Manson’s clan. Thanks to a series of bureaucratic blunders (the gun was found and given to the police months before it was connected the murders), the LAPD did not arrest Manson and his followers until December.

The court case (highlighted by frequent disruptions, shaved heads and self-inflicted forehead scars) was prosecuted by Vincent Bugliosi, whose account, Helter Skelter, was an instant best seller and the basis of two TV movies. Imprisoned for life and still awaiting the apocalypse, Manson remains a ’60s anti-hero for young transgressives. Not that he’s happy about it: “Being crazy meant something [in the ’60s], he said. “Nowadays, everybody’s crazy.”


#5: Michael Jackson Molestation Charges

Once upon a time, the biggest pop star in the world was accused of molesting a frequent visitor of his Neverland Ranch and settled out of court before a criminal suit could be brought against him. He ignited global fury and another court case 10 years later by claiming in a documentary that he shared his bed with young boys (his accuser also suggested that MJ shared more than that and plied him with alcohol or “Jesus Juice”). He was eventually proven innocent by a jury but to pop fans who no longer want to be associated with him, he’s as good as guilty eternally. Where his career is concerned, this is THE END. Seriously.


#4: O.J. Simpson Murder Trial

The circus never ends when O.J. Simpson is around. After a much-televised “trial of the century” full of racist cops, bloody gloves and a leech called Kato Kaelin, the football star/actor/Hertz spokesperson was found “not guilty” of the murder of estranged wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, infuriating well over half of the country. Despite the verdict, O.J. Simpson was found financially culpable for the murders in a civil suit, owing the victims’ survivors more than $30 million.

While Simpson claimed he would tirelessly search for the real killer, he seemed to spend most of his time playing golf and trying to find ways to make money without having to give it to the Goldman family. Take the tastefully-titled book, If I Did It. This highly publicized tome was to provide a first-person account of how Simpson would have murdered his wife that fateful night…had he actually done it. The Goldmans, still waiting for those tens of millions, filed suit and eventually claimed ownership of his “fictional” account. Simpson is now awaiting trial in Las Vegas for allegedly holding up a sports memorabilia collector in 2007. Unsurprisingly, Clark County is having a hard time finding an impartial jury.


#3: Princess Diana Dies In Car Crash

Princess Diana, the “people’s princess,” was often described as the World’s Most Photographed Woman. So it shouldn’t have been too shocking when the paparazzi chased her driver head-on into a concrete pillar in a Paris underpass on August 31, 1997.

In the decade since, a media ecosystem has grown fat off of books and movies detailing Diana’s life and death. The juicy bits include her hellish marriage to Prince Charles, his and her infidelity before their 1996 divorce (she liked men who could handle horses), her suicide attempts and bulimia, her good works and warm personality, and conspiracy theories relating to her death.

One theory suggests Britain’s secret service knocked off Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed (the heir to Harrod’s department store) because Muslim offspring would be an affront to the Crown. But a $16 million investigation concluded earlier this year that the blame fell mostly on Diana’s driver (who had sucked down the equivalent to four shots of whiskey before taking the wheel) and partially on the paparazzi. Even Diana herself was somewhat at fault — she failed to buckle up.

Not only have we lost a great humanitarian, but also the woman Tina Brown (author of The Diana Chronicles) refers to as the “last great golden icon.” “Celebrity these days is completely for sale; it’s not remotely mysterious,” explained Brown in a recent interview. “But there’s something that remains glamorous and mysterious about royalty.” Guess the gossip mill will just have to focus on things like Kim Kardashian’s Ass.


#2: The Monica Lewinsky Affair

If only Monica Lewinsky hadn’t blown Bill Clinton! We know that Mr. I-Did-Not-Have Sexual-Relations-With-That-Woman wouldn’t have been impeached in 1998 for lying under oath. But there is so much we don’t know … Would a zippered Clinton have gone on to prove MVP in Al Gore‘s presidential campaign and subsequent victory in the 2000 election? Would we be in Iraq? Would we have attacked a real enemy instead — global warming, say? Would we have affordable oil, a viable economy, friends who speak other languages?

Forget the sordid details: the blue dress adorned with presidential seed, the intern’s claim that the commander-in chief deployed a cigar-tube in her free-fly zone, the fact that she was only 21 when the “inappropriate intimate contact” began. Instead, join us in wondering: When Monica blew the president, did she blow everything? Maybe. (OK, probably.) That’s why we’ve ranked a few measly blow jobs between consenting adults as the second greatest celebrity scandal of all time.


#1: The Murders Of Notorious B.I.G. And Tupac

Sex, murder, conspiracy, police corruption, bi-coastal gang warfare, Diddy – this scandal has it all. The rivalry between the east and west coast rap scenes may have begun with minor east coast rapper Tim Dog‘s amusing 1991 hit “Fuck Compton,” but thanks to big money and short fuses, the battle soon grew as epic and violent as the gangster movies rappers referenced, climaxing with the unsolved shooting deaths of Tupac “2Pac” Shakur and Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace in 1996 and 1997. Their murders turned the rap superstars into tragic icons, and a battle of words into The Greatest Celebrity Scandal Of All Time.

Shakur was already a successful recording artist (Dan Quayle had even blamed his music for the death of a cop) when he met and befriended Wallace before the release of the aspiring NY rapper’s debut album, Ready To Die. Their mutual admiration soon turned sour after Shakur accused Wallace and his producer, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, of instigating a 1994 robbery and assault that left him with five bullet wounds. Wallace and Combs swore they were coincidentally recording in the studio where Shakur was attacked outside, but for whatever reason, Shakur refused to believe the pair was not involved.

While Shakur recuperated and went to prison for sex crimes, Wallace’s career thrived as Combs’ label Bad Boy drew attention away from the LA gangsta rap scene, led by Dr. Dre and Death Row Records co-founder Suge Knight. Nine months into Shakur’s sentence, Knight, a former football player previously accused of threatening NWA’s Eazy-E with a baseball bat and holding Vanilla Ice out of a window, signed the embattled rapper to Death Row in exchange for paying his $1.2 million bail while he awaited appeal. Soon after, Knight mocked Combs from the stage of the 1995 Source Awards, with the NY audience responding by booing several Death Row artists, inspiring Snoop Dogg to yell “the east coast ain’t got no love for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg?”

Tensions continued to escalate. Knight was accused of making a friend of Combs’ drink urine from a cup when he wouldn’t give the address of the east coast mogul’s mother. Knight also blamed Combs’ for the shooting of a Death Row employee during a fight in Atlanta. Shakur publicly claimed to have slept with Wallace’s wife, and the label’s entourages had an armed standoff following the MTV Music Awards in March 1996. Combs repeatedly attempted to make peace with Knight, even inviting Louis Farrakhan’s son to mediate. Knight declined, claiming he would deal with the drama “his way.”

Before Knight could clarify, Shakur was mortally wounded in Las Vegas on September 7, following the public beating of gang member Orlando Anderson by Death Row employees after a boxing match. Despite multiple suspects, including Anderson and Knight himself (he owed back royalties to Shakur, who allegedly considered leaving Death Row), charges were never filed either due to a lack of evidence or police indifference. Shakur’s mother Afeni sued Knight for the unpaid royalties soon after, inspiring the label’s other artists to leave, claiming similar financial issues (as well as fears of violence).

Bad Boy, which had made a point never to respond to Death Row’s insults on record, released a public statement mourning the loss of Shakur. But when Wallace was shot and killed following a Soul Train Awards after-party in LA on March 9, 1997 (15 days before the release of his second album, Life After Death), many assumed it was a retaliatory gesture. No criminal charges have been filed, but recent civil suits from Wallace’s family argue that crooked police officers on Knight’s payroll were responsible for orchestrating his death, and that the LAPD, suffering from widespread corruption in their anti-gang units, refused to investigate the possibility.

More than a decade later, all the major figures are still in the news. After countless lawsuits, arrests and failed restarts Suge Knight was finally forced to sell Death Row and declare bankruptcy. In March, LA Times writer Chuck Phillips claimed to have proof that Combs (best known as Diddy today) was involved in the 1994 assault on Shakur, but retracted the story when his source was revealed to be a con artist. Notorious, a biopic based on Wallace’s life, is scheduled for a 2009 release, and Tupac’s eighth posthumous album is planned for release by the end of the year. With both murders re-opened and the Wallace family’s civil suit still in motion, it would seem this scandal is far from over.