Famous people, just like everyone else, make dumb mistakes. The only difference between those in the spotlight and your drunken, idiot uncle is the deluge of media coverage that accompanies these ill-advised blunders. Such is the price of fame.
Here’s our top 10 list of celebs who made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
10. Justin Bieber
In the early morning hours of January 23, 2014, Miami Beach police allegedly spotted two exotic sports cars drag racing down a residential street. One of the vehicles, a yellow Lamborghini Spyder, was driven by 19-year-old Justin Bieber accompanied by model Chantal Jeffries. After failing a field sobriety test, the Canadian pop star was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, resisting arrest without violence, and driving with an expired license.
According to the police report, Bieber’s entourage (which included his father) used several SUVs to block traffic, creating a drag strip for the singer to race his friend Khalil Amir Sharieff in a red Ferrari. The arresting officers estimated the cars were speeding at approximately 60 miles-per-hour in a 30 MPH zone. A toxicology test later revealed marijuana and Xanax in Bieber’s system.
The teen idol spent just under 10 hours in custody before being released on a $2,500 bond. He later recalled his harrowing ordeal in an interview, stating, “It was really cold. That was the worst part about it.” Bieber eventually reached a plea agreement in which the state agreed to drop the DUI charge in exchange for him pleading guilty to careless driving and resisting arrest. He also paid a $500 fine and was ordered to attend a 12-hour anger management course.
9. Nicole Richie
Next up in our lineup involves another pint-sized offender who ran afoul of the law behind the wheel. In 2006, Nicole Richie, the waifish daughter of legendary singer Lionel Richie, drove her Mercedes-Benz SUV the wrong way on the Ventura Freeway just north of Los Angeles. Like her gal pal, Paris Hilton, she was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Richie later admitted to smoking weed and popping Vicodin before hitting the road.
The Simple Life co-star was sentenced to four days in jail at the Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood, California, and fined $2,048. It was her second DUI conviction in three years. Due to overcrowding, she only served a little over an hour of actual hard time before being released. She then enrolled in a mandatory 18-month anti-drinking driver education program.
8. Jim Morrison
As the lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison compiled an extensive arrest record before his death in 1971, thus earning permanent membership into the infamous “27 Club.” However, his first run-in with the law pales in comparison to the wild drug and alcohol fuelled shenanigans that marked his brief but colorful career.
While attending a football game at Florida State, Morrison stole an umbrella and a police officer’s helmet from a squad car. The Tallahassee Police Department charged him with “disturbing the peace by being drunk,” resisting arrest, and petty larceny.
7. Eugene Robinson
Most athletes try to get a good night’s sleep to ensure peak performance — especially before playing in the Super Bowl. The Atlanta Falcons’ Eugene Robinson took a different approach, spending the night in jail after being arrested for solicitation of a prostitute from an undercover cop.
Despite his arrest, Robinson still suited up against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII. He probably should have stayed home and watched it on TV instead. The two-time All-Pro safety played dismally as the AFC champs romped to a 34-19 victory.
Robinson, a devout Christian, had recently received the Athletes in Action/Bart Starr Award, given annually to a player “who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.” He later returned the award.
6. Robert Downey Jr.
Coming home late at night and passing out is usually not a crime. Unless it happens to be in your neighbor’s house, which is where Robert Downey Jr. found himself on the night of July 16, 1996, in Malibu, California. The incident led to criminal charges of trespassing and more jail time, but the troubled actor soon faced much bigger problems while in the grips of severe drug and alcohol addiction.
Few movie stars have endured such a lengthy stretch of substance abuse, arrests, rehab, and relapse — only to end up as the world’s highest-paid actor. But Downey, who began acting at the age of five, is no mere mortal. His perseverance and talents ultimately won out, resulting in a string of box office hits in roles, including the blockbuster Iron Man franchise.
5. Plaxico Burress
Possessing an unlicensed gun in New York carries some of the stiffest penalties in the country. NFL receiver Plaxico Burress learned this the hard way — and made the situation even worse when he accidentally shot himself in the leg at a nightclub in Manhattan.
Although the former Giants’ star would recover from the self-inflicted wound, Burress spent 20 months locked up at Rikers Island for his felonious fumble. He eventually returned to the gridiron in 2011 (this time in a Jets uniform) and went on to win the Comeback Player of the Year award.
As for that now-infamous nightclub shooting, Burress had this to say: “The stairway was narrow and dark and everything was black…I could barely see, and I guess I missed a step and my foot slipped. My gun came unhooked from my belt and went sliding down my right pant leg. My instant reaction was to catch it before it hit the floor, and I reached down with my right hand to grab it. And I guess my finger hit right on the trigger because it went off.”
4. Tim McGraw & Kenny Chesney
The old adage “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy” can be applied to not one but two Nashville crooners in 2000. Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney were arrested in Buffalo after Chesney rode away with an Erie County deputy’s horse. McGraw and his manager Mark Russo then allegedly attacked other Sheriff’s Deputies who tried to stop Chesney from his galloping joy ride.
Both singers had performed earlier in the day at the George Strait Country Music Festival at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY. Chesney, McGraw, and Russo were arrested, arraigned, and released on bail.Local authorities charged Chesney with disorderly conduct, but McGraw was ultimately charged with a felony for assaulting a police officer who suffered minor injuries.
A year later, all three men involved were found not guilty. According to Chesney, the ‘horsing around’ had been a misunderstanding that began when the daughter of a Sheriff’s Department Captain gave Chesney permission to sit on her father’s horse. “Unfortunately, what was meant to be a totally innocent and fun gesture, was blown way out of proportion,” Chesney said. “Tim McGraw and I have been friends for a very long time. When he saw me in danger of being harmed, he simply came over to help out his friend.”
3. Conor McGregor
The trend of celebrity-branded booze continues to flood the marketplace with a wide range of products, including Trump Wine, Absinthe Mansinthe, and Dennis Rodman’s Bad Ass Vodka. In 2018, former UFC champion Conor McGregor tossed his hat into the ring with “Proper No. 12 Whiskey” — a name that has nothing to do with the spirit’s vintage but rather the postal code in Crumlin, Dublin 12 where the fighter was born and raised. The launch would result in a flurry of brutal reviews and a well-publicized bar room punch.
On April 6, 2019, the Irishman insisted on pouring free shots of his whiskey to patrons inside Dublin’s Marble Arch pub. But when a 50-year-old customer refused, McGregor slugged him. The MMA headliner was charged with assaulting Desmond Keogh and slapped with a €1,000 fine. McGregor later bought the pub and promptly barred Keogh from the premises.
2. Paul Reubens
Best known for his wildly popular character “Pee-wee Herman,” Paul Reubens enjoyed tremendous success at both the box office and on TV throughout the 1980s. However, his career took a sudden nosedive in 1991 after being arrested for indecent exposure at an adult theater in Sarasota, Florida. In addition to providing grist for the tabloid mill, his five knuckle shuffle also yielded a slew of jokes, such as: What’s Pee-wee Herman’s favorite meal? Stroganoff.
Reubens pleaded no contest to the charge and agreed to 75 hours of community service. He would later earn critical praise in various projects, including roles on Murphy Brown, Reno 911, and The Blacklist. In 2009, Reubens resurrected his bow-tied, man-child alter ego with a successful stage show and five years later starred in the Netflix original film, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday.
1. Dennis Hopper
The sleepy town of Taos, New Mexico, is renowned for its picturesque Sangre de Cristo Mountains and thriving arts community. The rural setting also served as the longtime home of Dennis Hopper, who once shot a tree with a .357 Magnum, having mistaken it for a grizzly bear.
According to biographer Tom Folsom, Hopper had been hallucinating after taking some LSD he’d won in a late-night poker game. Local authorities charged the actor/director with reckless driving, failure to report an accident, and leaving the scene. Coincidentally, the 1975 bust landed Hopper in the same jail used during the filming of his seminal counter-culture movie, Easy Rider. He later pleaded guilty and paid a fine.
The notorious Hollywood rebel somehow managed to survive decades of drug and alcohol abuse, and several troubled marriages, before finding sobriety in the late 1980s. In addition to his role as “Billy” in Easy Rider, in which he directed and co-wrote the screenplay with Terry Southern, Hopper portrayed several other iconic characters in films such as Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, Hoosiers, and True Romance. He also kept busy as a prolific photographer, painter, and sculptor.
Shortly before his death from prostate cancer in 2010, Hopper was honored with a well-earned star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.