100 Greatest Celebrity Scandals Of All Time


#29: Ted Kennedy Goes For A Dip At Chappaquiddick

In 1969, it wasn’t easy being Ted Kennedy, suddenly the only remaining son of father Joe’s famous clan. Eldest son Joe Jr. had been killed in World War II. Both JFK and RFK had been assassinated. This left Ted carrying the torch, along with an unending series of highballs.

On July 18, Ted attended a party for late bro Bobby’s “boiler-room girls” (calm down, they were only campaign workers) on Chappaquiddick Island on Martha’s Vineyard, and offered Mary Jo Kopechne, back to her hotel. One wrong turn later, Kopechne was lying with his car at the bottom of Chappaquiddick’s Poucha Pond. Kennedy allegedly swam to shore before he realized Kopechne might be trapped in the car, then dove back in a failed effort to rescue her.

Somehow it escaped Kennedy’s mind to alert the authorities until after Kopechne’s body was discovered the following day by some fishermen. He pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and wrote the girl’s family a $90,000 check. The incident would dog Kennedy for the rest of his career, and effectively torpedoed his chances of ever winning the presidency of the United States. — Charles Bottomley

Watch Ted Kennedy’s statement on Chappaquiddick.


#28: Paris Hilton Sex Tape

In late 2003, Paris Hilton‘s ascent to “it girl” meta-fame was reaching its zenith. Her primetime reality series The Simple Life was about to premiere on Fox, but it was an unexpected Internet debut that ended up getting all the attention.

Less than a week before The Simple Life’s premiere, former boyfriend Rick Salomon leaked excerpts from a four year old sex tape he’d filmed with Paris Hilton onto the web. Fox almost immediately said it had no intentions of canceling or pre-empting the premiere of The Simple Life, but things were only heating between Salomon and Hilton.

First, Salomon sued Hilton for defamation after she claimed that the tape was made when she was “out of it” and not aware of what she was doing during the taping. Later, Hilton sued Salomon over the official release of the tape and was awarded $400,000. In 2006 she told GQ that she “never received a dime.”

1 Night in Paris features graphic shots of unsafe oral and vaginal sex, and each scene is introduced by Salomon, who points out, “All of this is very legal, and consensual, over 18 years old … barely! And, uh, you know, you can’t hide cameras on people. That’s illegal.”

Despite its notoriety, the most memorable part of the tape is when Paris stops to answer her cell phone. A full one-third of the tape – nearly 20 minutes – features Salomon going down on Paris, with only moderate success.

The tape from Red Light District Video is also dedicated “in memory of 9/11/01.”

The Simple Life went on to run for three seasons on Fox and another two on E! — Tony Carbone

by (@katespencer)

#27: Paula Abdul Boinks American Idol Contestant

It wasn’t enough for ’80s pop star Paula Abdul to act a little loopy while serving as an American Idol judge. She had to go and boink a contestant (allegedly), revealing a darker, X-rated side to the family-friendly singing contest.

Two years after Corey Clark was kicked off the show for failing to reveal his legal rap sheet, the 24-year-old former contestant came forward to claim that he engaged in a “secret affair” with the 42-year-old Abdul. In an interview with the super-shady tabloid The Globe in May 2005, Corey provided voicemails from Paula as proof, accused her of seducing him in her guest room, and claimed she offered to fund his career to the tune of $2 million. According to the rag, the former Laker girl told the wannabee singer that she “wanted to look out for him and be his ‘special friend,'” but advised him, “Don’t screw me or you’ll be sorry.”

Corey continued to disobey Paula, dishing to Primetime Live about their supposed affair, conveniently coming forward right when his album and e-book were set to drop. All Paula would say is, “Not only do I never lie, I never respond to lies.” FOX defended their celebrity judge, and their internal investigation concluded that “no evidence was uncovered to resolve the conflicts in their accounts.”

While Corey faded into Idol-reject obscurity, Paula stayed on the show to make headlines again in 2007 when she appeared on a local news show giggling and slurring her words. She came forward with yet another denial, asserting, “I’ve never been drunk.”


#26: New York Governor Eliot Spitzer Likes Prostitutes

If your job description once included cracking down on prostitution rings, it’d be rather silly to start patronizing them yourself. Either nobody told that to Eliot Spitzer, crusading attorney general-turned-New York governor, or he’s a few subpoenas short of a brief. Earlier this year, Spitzer was outed as “Client 9″ of the Emperors Club call-girl ring, having spent nearly $80,000 on prostitutes over a decade.

After a chorus of “He did what?”, Spitzer’s wife grimaced in support as her husband resigned to a quiet life of consultancy and plea bargains. The public face of Spitzer’s credit card conquests turned out to be Ashley Dupre, an aspiring singer whose prostitution paid the rent.

Hustler and Penthouse have offered the bosomy 22-year-old considerably more than Spitz’s measly $5000-a-night to pose nude. But the former Girls Gone Wild dancer has allegedly turned down these offers in favor of the real pot at the end of the rainbow — her own reality show. — Charles Bottomley

After the jump, see Ashley Dupre taking a dip at the Jersey shore.

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#25: Jerry Lee Lewis Marries His 13-Year-Old Cousin

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 (@katespencer)

#24: Lindsay Lohan Melts Down

Lindsay Lohan began in commercials at the age of eight and was a bonafide star by twelve, thanks to the 1998 Parent Trap remake. Amid family problems (her parents’ rocky road to divorce, her father’s jail time for DUI), her career soared with a three-pic Disney deal, hit flicks like Freaky Friday and Mean Girls, and famous boyfriends like Aaron Carter and Wilmer Valderrama. She was a near-perfect “triple threat” when a series of disasters proved she was just a plain threat — to herself.

Wherever Lilo went, the paparazzi followed. The once fresh-faced star was snapped partying at all hours of the night, and the constant drinking and drama landed her in the hospital in November 2004. “I was overtired and working myself to death,” she claimed. After her third hospital stint, while shooting Georgia Rule in 2006, she was chastised in a letter sent by the CEO of the film’s production company: “We are well aware that your ongoing all-night heavy partying is the real reason for your so-called ‘exhaustion.'”

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#23: R. Kelly Child Porn Trial

R. Kelly likes ‘em young. The dude married his late protégé, Aaliyah, in 1994, when the singer had barely put away her My Little Pony dolls; he also penned a little ditty for her called “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number.” However, the Pied Piper of R&B was shocked to discover someone who looked very much like him pissing on a girl who looked very much like a 14-year-old girl in a sex video that surfaced in 2002.

The tape went viral online after it was anonymously mailed to the Chicago Sun-Times and street vendors did a steady business selling bootleg DVDs of the felonious tryst. Kelly was eventually indicted for 21 counts of sex with a minor, but after much legal haggling, the charges were reduced to 14 kiddie-porn-related offenses. The platinum-selling artist went from believing to he could fly to confessing that “Bin Laden is the only one who knows exactly what I’m going through.”

Despite a seemingly slam-dunk case against him, Kelly, in 2008, was acquitted of all charges. — Charles Bottomley


#22: Vanessa Williams Dethroned

In 1983, New York beauty queen Vanessa Williams became the first African-American Miss America. A year later, Penthouse magazine published a pictorial made up of pre-fame photos. There was just a whiff of Sapphic love about the sexy snaps, but believe us when we say that in 1984 that was enough.

Beauty-contest-loving Americans were outraged. Until then, Miss America had long been a celebration of Yankee wholesomeness. And no matter what anybody thought of the swimsuit competition, it had nothing to do with smut.

Williams did the decent thing and resigned, although we wish she would have also done the decent thing and not released “Save the Best for Last,” or made Eraser with Arnold Schwarzenegger, or married former LA Laker Rick Fox.

Suitably enough, beauty contests are now better known for their scandals than their winners. In 2006, Miss USA Tara Conner nearly lost her crown when she got drunk and traded spit with Miss Teen USA. But compared to the original fallen idol, they’re just amateurs. — Charles Bottomley


#21: Amy Fisher Shoots Joey Buttafuoco’s Wife

Sixteen-year-old Amy Fisher had been having an affair with Joey Buttafuoco since May 1991, but the married auto worker refused to leave his wife for his underage mistress. In May 1992, an enraged Fisher went to the Buttafuoco’s Massapequa, Long Island home, and shot his wife Mary Jo in the face with an Titan .25 semi-automatic, leaving her deafened in one ear and her face partially paralyzed.

Although Fisher, whom the New York tabs dubbed “The Long Island Lolita”, spawned not one but two TV movies (Drew Barrymore perfected Fisher’s vacant stare in the underrated The Amy Fisher Story), her story lacked a happy ending. After accepting a plea deal, Fisher served seven years at the Albion Correctional Facility, but her public humiliation didn’t end there. In 2007, Fisher’s then-husband Louis Bellera released a sex tape showing the now thirtysomething Fisher looking decidedly less Lolita-like.

Buttafuoco, for his part, served six months for statutory rape, got dumped by Mary Jo, and continues to surface as a one-word punchline on The Howard Stern Show. It’s enough to make a guy want to pummel someone, and in 2002, Buttafuoco got his chance when he thrashed female pro wrestler Chyna on Fox’s Celebrity Boxing. — Charles Bottomley


#20: Anna Nicole Smith’s Death

Playboy model. Senior citizen sex toy. The unholy love child of Marilyn Monroe and the Michelin Man. Anna Nicole Smith was created so the world could marvel at just how messed up one person could get and still not be Britney Spears. Just ask anybody who owns The Anna Nicole Show: The Complete Series on DVD.

The dust seemed to have cleared after the death of Smith’s 20-year-old son Daniel, from an overdose of prescription pills and methodone, and her commitment ceremony to lawyer and long-time pal Howard K. Stern. Then Smith’s lifeless body was found in a Florida hotel room in February 2007. The autopsy showed she had suffered an accidental overdose of prescription medication — none of which had actually been prescribed to her. Then things got really weird.

Stern took custody of Smith’s infant daughter Dannielynn, whose paternity was contested by ex-boyfriend Larry Birkhead. After a court battle and DNA test proving Birkhead was the father, Stern surrendered custody. Then a book alleged that Birkhead and Stern were really lovers. And then our heads exploded. — Charles Bottomley