With the current backlash building against the once revered Bill Cosby; we see a classic example of how our perception as an audience can be shattered by indiscretions of those celebrities that are so out of character we can never look at them the same way again.
We enjoy building these careers into mythical proportion only to feel let down by people we might have believed were above the fray of the sins us common folk endure. The consequence to the celebrities can be devastating as they are forever branded with an ugly footnote to an otherwise stellar career.
We thought it would be interesting to take a look back at other noteworthy examples of reputation fails, here are a few:
Paul Reubens (aka Pee Wee Herman) - Kiddie shows have to adhere to the highest moral character and their hosts are expected to be saintly in their disposition (see Mr. Rogers) but Reuben’s Pee Wee character was forever defiled when he was arrested for public lewdness in an adult movie theater. The arrest set off a chain reaction of national media attention that changed the general public's view of Reubens and Pee-Wee.The arrest postponed Reubens' involvement in major projects until 1999, when he appeared in several big-budget projects Mystery Men and Blow and started giving interviews as himself rather than as Pee-Wee. While rumors of a new Pee Wee movie have been circulated since 2010, Reubens’ career has been limited to obscure character roles and animation voiceovers.
Michael Richards (aka Seinfeld’s Kramer) - Richard’s portrayal of the eclectic New York hipster Kramer is memorable for his eccentric and lovable nature. An audience favorite for his hyper physical bits Richards won more Emmys than any other cast member on Seinfeld. He took home the award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 1993, 1994 and 1997 but after a failed post Seinfeld series (The Michael Richards Show) failed after barely a full season the comic took to his roots and began performing stand up again. In 2006 at The Laugh Factory comedy club Richards visibly lost it (there was video) and a racially charged response to black hecklers in the audience ensued, shouting "He's a nigger!" several times and referring to lynching. A shaken Richards has not returned to stand up since.
Paula Deen - The Southern cook show hostess was unstoppable with licensing and endorsements piling at her doorstep when a transcript from a (dismissed) civil suit revealed her colloquial use of racial slurs. This came on the heals of a recent controversy involving the nutritionally unhealthy recipes she was promoting being publicly criticized. Despite tearful mia culpas about her ignorance (as a product of the deep racism of the region) the sponsors pulled out in droves and her TV career was terminated. At last report she was attempting a comeback by launching her own network on multiple media platforms.
Mel Gibson - The famed actor, screenwriter and director was beloved by Hollywood and the general public for his movie roles and directorial contributions, yet his strong neo conservative religious persona fell demon to a life long struggle with the bottle resulting in a high profile DUI arrest in 2006. The arrest report was leaked to the press and Gibson was quoted as saying, "Fucking Jews... the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?" No matter how much rehabilitation Mel went through, Hollywood reacted harshly and at one point he lost prestigious representation at the William Morris Agency.
Woody Allen - While Rhode Islanders may have overlooked his past indiscretions and welcomed his film production with open arms, the famed actor, writer and director had his comic genius image sullied when he married the adopted daughter(Soon-Yi Previn) of his ex Mia Farrow (they were never married). Because of the vast age difference (19 vs. Allen then at 56), the Hollywood establishment continues to be cooly tolerant amidst further allegations by the Farrow camp that Allen also allegedly molested an even younger adopted child (Dylan Farrow).
Jim Bakker - This television evangelist and his mascara soaked wife (Tammy Faye) were already controversial as they lived an opulent lifestyle on the donations of their flock, but stuff really hit the fan when a young congregant (Jessica Hahn) revealed that she had been seduced by Bakker and was paid off not to talk with over a quarter million dollar settlement taken from the church tax free donation coffers. When the scandal leaked, Hahn then posed nude for Playboy and Bakker was indicted and convicted on 24 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy.
Anthony Weiner - “The dick pic bandit” was a popular democratic congressman from New York’s 9th district that also ran (unsuccessfully) for mayor in 2013. He could have been a promising up and comer with the party and possibly would have risen to national political status if not for a habit of sexting women on Twitter with pictures of his namesake hanging out. While voters are usually tolerant of rumors about extra marital affairs this public performance pretty much put his political aspirations out of reach.