Hollywood headlines have kept gossip mills churning since the early 1900s, and they haven't shown any signs of slowing down. From celebrity murder-suicides and tragic plane crashes to shocking marriages, divorces and deaths — including that of Britain's Princess Diana — take a walk down memory lane with Wonderwall.com as we explore the biggest celebrity and entertainment news stories of the year from 1940 to 2010… beginning with a dynamic woman who changed the course of the Academy Awards for future generations… Keep reading to find out more!
1940: Hattie McDaniel wins an Oscar
At the start of the 1940s, Hattie McDaniel was the most famous African-American woman in Hollywood, and she knew it. By the time she appeared in "Gone With the Wind" in 1939, she'd already been in 65 films, yet more than half (36, to be exact) hadn't even listed her name in the credits. Armed with a stack of critics' reviews and fan letters, Hattie demanded her producer submit her name for the best supporting actress Oscar nominations in 1940. Even though the segregated venue where the Academy Awards were held reluctantly allowed Hattie through the doors, she proudly won the Oscar, making her the first black American ever to do so.
1941: "Citizen Kane" is released amid protest
The bitter feud between actor-filmmaker Orson Welles and publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst began with rumors that Orson's film, "Citizen Kane," was based on William's life. While William tried to manipulate major studio executives to burn the negatives and prevent the movie's release, Orson pushed forward — and much to the eccentric publisher's dismay, the 1941 film made it to theaters, where it bowed to critical acclaim. It eventually became known as one of the greatest movies of all time.
1942: Actress Carole Lombard dies in a plane crash
Carole Lombard wasn't just the beloved wife of silver screen star Clark Gable and the mother of their 10-month-old child when she died in a plane crash in January 1942. She was an accomplished actress who'd starred in numerous screwball comedies like "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," "They Knew What They Wanted" and her final film, "To Be Or Not to Be," which premiered less than three months after her tragic death. The Nevada plane crash that killed her and her mother also took the lives of 20 others.
1943: Hollywood star Errol Flynn stands trial for statutory rape
Long before Charlie Sheen, Colin Farrell or Scott Disick came along, the bad boy of Hollywood was a sex-crazed movie star named Errol Flynn. In 1943, the lascivious actor was arrested and charged with statutory rape after he was accused of seducing a 17-year-old girl at a party the previous year. Errol, who once bragged that he'd spent between 12,000 and 14,000 nights having sex, was ultimately found not guilty by a jury of nine women and three men. Shortly after the trial, he impregnated an 18-year-old woman who sold cigarettes in the courthouse lobby — and made her his second wife.
1944: The controversial film "Double Indemnity" is released
Nine years before the novella "Double Indemnity" was made into a movie and released in theaters, controversy hit when the Hays Office — an organization that focused on morality in films — sent a scathing letter to studio heads warning them the storyline had a "general low tone and sordid flavor" and was "unacceptable for screen presentation before mixed audiences in the theater." When Paramount Studios bought the movie rights in 1943, the Hays Office issued a similar letter, but studio executives went ahead with the film. Amid controversy, the movie, starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, was released in 1944. It was widely acclaimed and later nominated for seven Academy Awards.
1945: Cary Grant and Barbara Hutton divorce
Fans were understandably shocked when, seemingly out of nowhere, handsome film star Cary Grant married the heiress to the Woolworths empire, Barbara Hutton, in 1942. It was the third marriage for Barbara and the second for Cary. Their marriage didn't produce children but seemed to be based on true love. Three years later in 1945, they made headlines again when Cary filed for divorce — but didn't ask for any money in the split settlement, possibly to disprove rumors that he'd only married Barbara for her vast fortune.
1946: Howard Hughes crashes his plane into a California home
If you didn't see 2004's "The Aviator" — the movie about Howard Hughes' life, starring Leonardo DiCaprio — you may not know that in 1946, the famed pilot and film producer actually crashed his newly designed spy plane into three Beverly Hills homes, completely destroying both the plane and the final house on his descent. Apparently, the eccentric millionaire inventor was aiming to land on a nearby golf course, but missed by 300 feet. Howard nearly died in the accident.
1947: Congress probes Hollywood for alleged communist activities
One of the darkest eras in Hollywood history began in November 1947 when 10 industry writers and directors refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee — which formed in 1938 to investigate allegations of communism and disloyalty toward America. Days later, a group of 48 studio executives fired the so-called "Hollywood 10," starting the first unofficial Hollywood blacklist that would end the careers of at least 151 entertainment professionals.
1948: Actor Robert Mitchum arrested and jailed for smoking pot
Robert Mitchum was considered the devastatingly handsome "cool" guy in Hollywood and by all accounts, he became even more popular after his surprise 1948 arrest for smoking marijuana with friends at a home in Los Angeles' Laurel Canyon. The actor, who seemed nonchalant during his arrest and arraignment, served 60 days in jail for the offense, which he mistakenly believed would ruin his acting career. Lucky for him, it didn't, and 68 years later, his crime was legalized in California.
1949: Rita Hayworth marries royalty
In 1949, American actress and pin-up girl Rita Hayworth left the limelight to take on a new role — princess — when she married Prince Aly Khan. Because Rita had technically still been married to Orson Welles during her courtship with the prince, fans in America weren't supportive of the marriage and boycotted her films. Rita became the first Hollywood actress to marry into a royal family. They divorced in 1953.
1950: Married Ingrid Bergman has affair, gets pregnant
While filming in Italy in 1950, actress Ingrid Bergman caused quite the scandal when she took filmmaker Roberto Rossellini as her lover and bore his child while still married to her first husband, Petter Lindstrom. Her affair shook fans and critics who'd come to think of the Swedish beauty and mother of one as the epitome of purity and wholesomeness. Even a U.S. senator took the star to task, calling her "a powerful influence for evil" while on the Senate floor.
1951: "A Streetcar Named Desire" faces heavy censorship
Facing harsh censorship rules from the Production Code Administration (PCA) — an organization that evaluated films for morality before being released — the film version of Tennessee Williams' play "A Streetcar Named Desire" was in jeopardy. Starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh, the 1951 movie had to drastically change its plot, removing even the mention of pivotal themes in the story, such as rape and homosexuality. Once the PCA was appeased, filmmakers had to deal with the Legion of Decency (LOD), a Catholic organization that rated movies and demanded more cuts be made before giving it an approval rating that would allow members of the church to watch the film.
1952: Charlie Chaplin banned from returning to the States
Although Charlie Chaplin had been a prominent figure on the silver screen since 1914, his fame wasn't enough to protect him from a bad reputation. Thanks in large part to the disfavor of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Charlie was branded immoral and, later, rumored to be a communist. In 1952, while traveling to Europe to promote his film "Limelight," Charlie received word that if he returned to America, he would be arrested on suspicion that he was a traitor. He responded to the ban by saying, "I would not go back there even if Jesus Christ were the president."
1953: Marilyn Monroe appears in Playboy's first edition
In 1953, a young Hugh Hefner didn't actually know Marilyn Monroe when he put her on the cover and made her the centerfold of his newly minted magazine, Playboy. The blonde bombshell didn't even pose for the magazine, as many believed. Rather, Hugh — who'd come across photos of the star in a little-known calendar made five years earlier — tracked down the photographer and paid for the image rights. For $500, he had enough material for his magazine's launch, capitalizing on Marilyn's established fame in Hollywood.
1954: Marilyn Monroe marries and divorces baseball star Joe DiMaggio
A year and a half after former Yankees baseball legend Joe DiMaggio asked a friend to set him up on a date with Marilyn Monroe, the pair were married in San Francisco in January 1954. Their union captivated fans and was considered to be "the marriage of the century" by the press, but was also known to be volatile. Sadly, it didn't last. In October the same year, Marilyn filed for divorce, citing "mental cruelty" as the reason. Although their relationship was tumultuous, Joe remained a constant, comforting presence throughout Marilyn's life.
1955: James Dean dies in a fiery car crash
James Dean's star was just rising when a tragic 1955 car accident took his life when he was just 24. He was so new to the industry that only three films listed him in the credits (although he'd appeared in a total of eight), marking his transition from bit actor to silver screen legend. In fact, James' greatest film, "Rebel Without A Cause," wasn't released until nearly a month after his death, cementing his icon status in Hollywood history.
1956: Grace Kelly marries the crown prince of Monaco
Although Grace Kelly wasn't the first Hollywood actress to marry into royalty (that title went to Rita Hayworth in 1949), her 1956 marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco was the inspiration for every girl's dream of a fairy-tale royal wedding. Grace met Rainier in 1955 while filming "To Catch A Thief" and they struck up an unlikely friendship. A year later, after numerous love letters from the prince, Grace agreed to marry him and retired from the silver screen to take on one of the greatest roles of her lifetime: Princess of Monaco.
1957: Elvis Presley is drafted into the Army
At the tail end of 1957, fans were shocked when rock'n'roll heartthrob Elvis Presley was drafted into the U.S. Army. Playfully known as "Elvis the Pelvis" for his thrust-laced dance moves, the musician (who'd also starred in his first hit film, "Love Me Tender," by that point) was determined to serve his country. After requesting a temporary deferment to finish filming "King Creole," Elvis reported for duty three months later and served for two years, reaching the rank of sergeant.
1958: Lana Turner's boyfriend stabbed to death by her daughter
Few know what really happened between famed Hollywood "sweater girl" Lana Turner, her violent mobster boyfriend, John Stompanato, and her then-14-year-old daughter, Cheryl Crane, the night John was stabbed to death in Lana's Beverly Hills home. However, the story given to police and the press was that Cheryl, afraid for her and her mother's lives, stabbed the thug in her mother's bedroom doorway. Lana's daughter was arrested and ultimately made a ward of the state, although the killing was ruled a justifiable homicide.
1959: The day the music died plane crash
On Feb. 3, 1959, three of the biggest musicians in the country — Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper — died in a plane crash in Iowa on their way to North Dakota for the next leg of their "Winter Dance Party" tour. Their small chartered plane crashed shortly after takeoff after encountering strong winter winds and a snowstorm that, along with their 21-year-old pilot's lack of experience, led to the fatal accident. Their deaths were considered the first great tragedy in rock'n'roll history.
1960: Popular "Perry Mason" actor arrested at nude pot party
William Talman (left) played a prosecutor on the popular television series "Perry Mason," but his fame couldn't save him from an embarrassing arrest in 1960 at a nude pot party. According to the Los Angeles Times, William, along with seven others, were caught partaking in "lewd behavior" at a "wild marijuana party" in a Hollywood apartment. Embarrassed, William claimed to be innocent and said the entire arrest was "some kind of mistake." He also was quoted as saying, "This is going to ruin me." Thankfully, he was wrong. Charges were ultimately dropped and his career continued.
1961: Musician and actor Spade Cooley arrested for murder
Spade Cooley was a movie and TV star, big band leader and the self-appointed "King of Swing" who'd enjoyed a long career in Hollywood before he brutally killed his wife, Ella Mae, in April 1961. Spade, whose birth name was Donnell, stood trial for the murder and was ultimately found guilty. His 15-year-old daughter, Melody, was one of the key witnesses. She claimed she saw her father terrorize and beat her mother the night of her death.
1962: Marilyn Monroe found dead
In 1962, three months after famously singing "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy, superstar Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home after an apparent overdose of barbiturates. At the time of her passing, the blonde bombshell was only 36 years old. Her former husband, Joe DiMaggio, who'd been divorced from the star since 1954, claimed her body and made funeral arrangements. To this day, the events surrounding her death remain a mystery.
1963: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton engage in an illicit affair
By 1963, Elizabeth Taylor was no stranger to scandal. Five years after seducing pal Debbie Reynolds' husband, Eddie Fisher (and later marrying him), Elizabeth was once again in the news for indulging in an illicit affair — this time with "Cleopatra" co-star Richard Burton (who at the time was also married). Both stars divorced their spouses the following year to marry one another.
1964: The Beatles skyrocket to fame in America
1964 is unofficially known as the year Beatlemania took hold in America. When The Beatles arrived at JFK Airport on Feb. 7 that year, they were met by more than 5,000 enthusiastic fans — mostly teen girls — who'd been paid a dollar and given a free Beatles T-shirt as a marketing scheme to increase the British band's popularity. It worked, and by the time The Beatles debuted on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on Feb. 9 in front of 73 million viewers, their status as pop icons was cemented.
1965: Scandalous exposé "Hollywood Babylon" is banned in America
Just 10 days after the scandalous exposé "Hollywood Babylon" was released in the United States, it was officially banned from book shelves. The book, which featured Jayne Mansfield on the cover, showed the seductive starlet bent forward to reveal her ample bosom. The inner pages were no less tawdry, detailing some of the biggest scandals in Tinseltown, including who had drug problems, who'd slept with whom, and gory details about celebrity deaths. Written by Kevin Anger, the book was a precursor to the celebrity tell-alls that continue to intrigue fans.
1966: Mickey Rooney's wife murdered by lover
In 1966, a shocking Hollywood murder-suicide dominated headlines. Barbara Thomason, the fifth wife of actor Mickey Rooney (pictured), was slain by her lover, B-actor Milos Milosevic, when she attempted to end their affair. Milos, apparently enraged by Barbara's decision to stay with her husband, used the gun Mickey had given her to protect herself while Mickey was away, to shoot her in cold blood before turning the gun on himself. Barbara left behind four children, who were sent to live with her mother and father after her death, as Mickey was too distraught to raise his children alone.
1967: Elvis Presley marries Priscilla Beaulieu
It was all thanks to joining the Army that Elvis Presley met his future wife, Priscilla Beaulieu. The pair — she was just 14 when they were introduced — had connected in Germany, where Elvis and Priscilla's stepfather were both stationed. They dated for nearly a decade before finally tying the knot on May 1, 1967. Adoring fans were heartbroken that Elvis was officially off the market. Exactly nine months after exchanging vows, the couple welcomed their only child, Lisa Marie Presley.
1968: First televised interracial kiss airs on "Star Trek"
In 1968, the South was rife with racial tension, which made network executives afraid to air an episode of "Star Trek" that featured an interracial kiss between Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). Instructed to film an alternate kiss-free scene, William purposely crossed his eyes on camera, making the scene unusable. In the end, the episode, "Plato's Stepchildren," aired, and became a groundbreaking show that challenged social conventions. In retaliation, some networks in the South refused to air the episode.
1969: Pregnant Sharon Tate murdered by Manson cult
The grisly Aug. 9, 1969, murder of filmmaker Roman Polanski's wife, actress Sharon Tate — who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with their first child — as well as four friends shook Los Angeles. The sheer brutality of the crime — most of the victims were stabbed to death — had residents on edge. The next day, fear grew when police discovered the bodies of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, who had been killed in a similar, gory fashion. Eventually, authorities would trace the murders back to the Manson "family," a deranged cult that followed the teachings of Charles Manson, one of the most frightening serial killers in American history.
1970: Two rock legends die weeks apart
Fans were devastated on Sept. 18, 1970, when news broke that Jimi Hendrix, who was considered by many to be the greatest instrumentalist in history, had died of an overdose of barbiturates in London at the age of 27. Just as their grief at the loss of this guitar legend began to ebb, the music world suffered another blow when singer Janis Joplin was found dead from an accidental heroin overdose on Oct. 4, 1970. Like Jimi, Janis was just 27 and in the prime of her career. Their deaths, just weeks apart, left a lasting hole in the rock'n'roll scene.
1971: Manson murderers sentenced to death
In March of 1971, after a lengthy trial that included numerous bizarre outbursts and terrifying admissions of guilt, Charles Manson and three of his followers — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten — were sentenced to death for their role in the Tate-LaBianca murders of 1969. All of the defendants were removed from the courtroom during the reading of the verdict due to unruly behavior.
1972: Jane Fonda labeled an American traitor
The controversy that labeled Jane Fonda a traitor in 1972 all started with a photograph. During a two-week trip to Vietnam, Jane, who was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam conflict, was photographed sitting on a Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun vehicle while spending time with enemy soldiers. The image angered U.S. troops and supporters, earning the actress the unfortunate nickname "Hanoi Jane."
1973: Bruce Lee dies at 32
At the time of Bruce Lee's death at 32 in 1973 from cerebral edema (brain swelling), he was best known in the States as Kato from the TV series "The Green Hornet." Although he'd lived in Los Angeles for years prior to returning to Hong Kong in search of better film roles, American audiences hadn't yet caught Bruce fever. Just one month after his passing, Bruce's most famous film, "Enter the Dragon," was released in U.S. theaters to critical acclaim, turning him into one of the most famous action stars in American history.
1974: Patty Hearst kidnapped by armed rebels
The events surrounding the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst, in 1974 from her Berkeley, California, apartment are some of the strangest in FBI history. A terror group calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army reportedly burst through her door, beat her fiance and stuffed Patty into the trunk of their car before making their getaway. After the group issued ransom demands, which were met, Patty chose to stay and take up arms with her captors, then committed a variety of crimes under an alias, and was even videotaped participating in a bank robbery, making it unclear if she was a victim, a criminal or both.
1975: "Jaws" becomes the surprise box-office hit of the year
With a measly $7 million budget, studio execs didn't expect young director Steven Spielberg's movie "Jaws" to be a breakaway hit in the summer of 1975. Of course, the movie about a murderous great white shark ended up making more than $100 million after just 59 days in theaters, making it the first bona fide summer blockbuster ever and propelling Steven's career into the stratosphere.
1976: Prankster changes "Hollywood" sign to "Hollyweed"
On New Year's Day 1976, prankster Daniel N. Finegood used sheets and his imagination to change the beloved Hollywood sign to "Hollyweed." Los Angelenos were shocked (and amused) by the new word now adorning their famous horizon. The inspiration? Jan. 1 was also the day California's relaxed marijuana laws took effect, and Daniel had long thought it would be pretty funny to change the letters to celebrate the occasion.
1977: Elvis Presley dies
Although Elvis Presley's career had been in a steady decline for years, his death at 42 on Aug. 16, 1977, was a huge story worldwide. The King of Rock'n'Roll's fiancée, 20-year-old model-actress Ginger Alden, found him slumped over in his bathroom inside Graceland, but it was too late to save him. An autopsy later that day revealed he'd died of a heart attack, though toxicology test results later showed he also had a slew of drugs in his system.
1978: Bass guitarist for The Sex Pistols is arrested for murder
On Oct. 12, 1978, Sid Vicious — the bass guitarist for popular British punk band The Sex Pistols — was arrested and charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Her body was discovered in the Chelsea Hotel in New York City in the room the couple shared. Nancy had been stabbed multiple times in the stomach and police believed Sid, who claimed he was passed out on drugs, was responsible for her death. Three months after his arrest, after he'd been freed on bail, Sid overdosed on heroin and died, taking with him any answers to the mystery of Nancy's murder.
1979: Los Angeles police catch the "Hillside Stranglers"
For four months, Los Angeles was terrorized by a serial killer who was preying on young women and disposing of their lifeless bodies in the Hollywood Hills. Dubbed "The Hillside Strangler," police knew, based on DNA, that there were actually two murderers working together but didn't release that information to the public. Finally, in February of 1979, Kenneth Bianchi and cousin Angelo Buono (pictured) were arrested and charged with 10 murders, including the killings of two 12-year-old girls. Both cousins were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
1980: John Lennon is murdered
John Lennon wasn't just a famed member of The Beatles — he was also a brilliant solo recording artist, husband and father and a passionate activist for peace. On Dec. 8, 1980, after walking home with wife Yoko Ono, he was met by deranged fan Mark David Chapman, who shot John four times outside his New York City co-op, The Dakota. Physicians tried to save his life, and one doctor recalled massaging John's lifeless heart trying revive the slain star, all to no avail. The killer was arrested and John was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital, news that shocked the world when sportscaster Howard Cosell announced it publicly during the last minutes of "Monday Night Football," and sent fans into mourning.
1981: Actress Natalie Wood drowns under suspicious circumstances
Three people were on the yacht on Nov. 29, 1981 — the night that Natalie Wood, the actress most fondly remembered as the precocious little girl in "Miracle on 34th Street," drowned — and only two lived to talk about what happened. Natalie's husband, Robert Wagner, and their close friend, Christopher Walken, both claimed Natalie's death was an accident and that the starlet must have fallen overboard when no one was around. Later, details emerged revealing Natalie and Robert had engaged in a vicious fight the night she died, but both her husband and Christopher have remained steadfast that no foul play was involved.
1982: "Poltergeist" arrives in theaters
The most frightening film to hit Hollywood in 1982 was "Poltergeist" — a tale about a family haunted by a frightening entity. The film's $10.7 million budget was a worthy investment, considering the movie wound up making $121.7 million at the box office. Soon after its release, one of the stars, Dominique Dunne, died after being attacked and strangled by a former boyfriend. It sparked rumors of a curse related to the movie, brought on, some say, by the allegation that the production crew used real human skeletons during several terrifying scenes.
1983: Vanessa Williams becomes first African-American Miss America
After 52 years of Miss America pageants, in September 1983, Vanessa Williams became the first African-American contestant to win the title. The model, actress and singer was only 20 when she was awarded the crown in a competition that was once called a "bathing beauty revue" but later turned into a scholarship opportunity that evaluated women based on their talent, intelligence, performance and good looks. Unfortunately, Vanessa's crown was later revoked when Penthouse magazine published unauthorized nude images of her the following year.
1984: Marvin Gaye is murdered by his father
The Prince of Motown whose silky voice gave the world hits like "Sexual Healing" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" tragically died on April 1, 1984, after being shot multiple times by his own father. According to eyewitnesses, a rift between Marvin Gaye and his dad, Marvin Gay Sr. ("Gay" was the original spelling of their last name) erupted into full-fledged violence when Marvin Sr. pulled the gun his son gave him as a gift and fired. Marvin Jr.'s brother, Frankie Gay, claims that the singer's last words were "I got what I wanted. I couldn't do it myself, so I made him do it."
1985: Former Hollywood heartthrob Rock Hudson dies of AIDS
Less than three months before Rock Hudson died on Oct. 2, 1985, he announced to the world that he had AIDS. At the time, AIDS was a relatively new public health crisis, and largely (and incorrectly) viewed as "a gay man's disease." Rock, a film star from the '50s and '60s, knew that disclosing his diagnosis would also open the door to questions about his sexuality. The famed actor, who was once a major silver screen heartthrob, had lived in the closet for most of his professional life. His AIDS admission was groundbreaking because he was the first major star to reveal he had the illness, putting a spotlight on a disease that was killing so many.
1986: Boy George arrested for heroin possession
Although Boy George, the frontman of the popular '80s band Culture Club, had once likened drug use to "being weak," in 1986, he succumbed to a devastating heroin addiction. Fans gobbled up stories from tabloids featuring a gaunt, disheveled George, who'd seemingly fallen from grace. The final blow came on July 12 that year when London police arrested the singer for heroin possession. At the time of George's arrest, on advice from his friend Richard Branson, he was seeking neuro-electric therapy to fight his addiction.
1987: Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey are involved in a fatal car crash
Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey — who began dating while co-starring in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" — had a brief break from their busy filming schedules and decided to jet-set to Ireland in August 1987. While there, they rented a BMW and drove along Ireland's coast. Unfortunately, their trip ended in tragedy when they struck a vehicle head-on, instantly killing the passengers — a mother and her adult daughter. Emergency responders believe the accident was caused by Matthew possibly driving on the wrong side of the road. No charges were filed.
1988: James Brown is arrested and jailed
On Sept. 24, 1988 authorities pursued soul singer James Brown in an unbelievable car chase that began in Georgia and went through parts of South Carolina before returning to Georgia, where the music star was ultimately apprehended. At one point, James was driving on his rims after police shot out his tires. The singer was charged in both states with crimes including assault and battery, weapons offenses, drunk driving and intent to kill. In December of the same year, James was acquitted on the intent to kill charge but found guilty on the remaining charges. He was sentenced to six years in prison.
1989: Rob Lowe in underage girl sex-tape scandal
In October 1988, while campaigning for presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, Brat Pack heartthrob Rob Lowe made a potentially career-ending decision to invite two young women he'd met at an Atlanta club back to his hotel room, where they were videotaped in bed the night before the Democratic National Convention. While Rob was in the bathroom, the ladies disappeared — with some cash and the microcassette. Months later in early 1989, the video surfaced and, with it, news that one of the females on the tape was 16. To avoid criminal charges, Rob agreed to perform 20 hours of community service. He also paid a sizeable sum to the girl's family in an out-of-court settlement.
1990: Milli Vanilli win and lose Grammy in lip-syncing scandal
Music duo Milli Vanilli — Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan — took the world by storm with their catchy pop hits "Blame it on the Rain" and "Girl You Know it's True." By 1990, the pair had won a Grammy for Best New Artist and were poised to churn out more top-charting hits. That all came to a halt in November the same year when the media caught wind of a story no one could believe — Milli Vanilli never actually sang any of their songs. The lip-syncing scandal caused the Grammys to rescind the group's award and permanently ended their musical career.
1991: Freddie Mercury reveals AIDS diagnosis one day before his death
Freddie Mercury's gaunt, unhealthy appearance at the 1990 Brit Awards sparked speculation that the Queen frontman was possibly battling AIDS. The notoriously private music star denied the accusations but after that avoided being seen in public. Finally, on Nov. 23, 1991, Freddie confirmed to the world that he had AIDS. The very next day, the singer known for his powerful vocals and awe-inspiring performances, died of complications from the virus.
1992: Sinead O'Connor rips up picture of the pope on "SNL"
Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O'Connor appeared on "Saturday Night Live" on Oct. 3, 1992, as the musical guest. While singing a cover of Bob Marley's "War," Sinead replaced a line with "child abuse, yeah, child abuse, yeah" to reflect incidences of abuse within the Catholic church. For her grand finale, the provocative singer showed the camera a picture of Pope John Paul II while singing the closing lyrics, "We have confidence in the victory of good over evil," ripped the image to pieces, then shouted, "fight the real enemy." The defiant act resulted in accusations that Sinead was practicing voodoo and led many fans to disavow the star.
1993: Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss arrested
Thanks in part to Heidi Fleiss's penchant for bragging, in February 1993, the LAPD caught wind of her illegal prostitution ring that catered to the stars. After a formal investigation, Heidi, dubbed the "Hollywood Madam," was arrested in a sting operation that June. Because of Heidi's high-profile clients, who included famous actors (like Charlie Sheen) and film studio executives, many reporters eager to run the story were silenced by attorneys. It wasn't until that August that the Los Angeles Times ran an incendiary piece on Heidi's illicit ties to Hollywood's elite that broke the story wide open and created shockwaves throughout Tinseltown.
1994: O.J. Simpson arrested for murder
On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown — a former actress and ex-wife of football star O.J. Simpson — and her friend, waiter Ron Goldman, were found brutally stabbed to death outside her Los Angeles condo. Detectives soon pinned the murders on O.J. and on June 17 demanded the fallen sports star turn himself in to authorities. Instead of placing himself in police custody, however, O.J. fled capture in pal Al Cowlings' white Ford Bronco in a televised car chase on the 405 freeway that ended with his arrest, though he wouldn't stand trial until the following year.
1995: Hugh Grant busted soliciting sex from prostitute
While in Los Angeles to promote his film "Nine Months" in 1995, Hugh Grant made a risky decision that he would later regret. After picking up a sex worker named Divine Brown, he pulled his vehicle onto a side street, where Divine performed fellatio before they were caught by police. Hugh was arrested and his mugshot hit the press. His longtime partner, model-actress Elizabeth Hurley, said she felt like she'd been shot after hearing the news. Divine later claimed that Hugh had told her, "I always wanted to sleep with a black woman. That's my fantasy."
1996: Tupac Shakur murdered
On Sept. 7, 1996, one of the most dynamic voices in hip hop, Tupac Shakur, was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Rap producer Suge Knight, who was in the car with Tupac when he was shot, was initially thought to be responsible for the hit, but some believe he was instead the intended target. Tupac lingered in critical condition for six days before succumbing to his injuries on Sept. 13. His murder has never been solved.
1997: Princess Diana dies in Paris car crash
On Aug. 31, 1997, a car accident led to one of the largest outpourings of grief of the decade. While in a speeding car that was attempting to outrun paparazzi, Princess Diana, boyfriend Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul crashed near the entrance of the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris. All three died from their injuries. Diana's heartbreaking funeral on Sept. 6, 1997, drew the largest audience in television history as more than 2 billion viewers tuned in to say farewell while her young sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, walked behind her coffin.
1998: Comedian Phil Hartman killed in murder-suicide
Comedian Phil Hartman was a celebrated cast member of "Saturday Night Live" before venturing out into the world of television on his own. Known for his hilarious impersonations, it seemed that Phil's career could only grow brighter. Instead, on May 28, 1998, Phil's light was permanently dimmed when his wife of 11 years, Brynn Hartman, shot him in cold blood while he slept. Hours later, as police tried to lure Brynn out of hiding, she committed suicide in bed next to her slain husband's body. They left behind two young children.
1999: J.Lo and Puff Daddy arrested in connection with nightclub shooting
She was J.Lo and he was Puff Daddy and their relationship was a whirlwind love affair that took the media by storm. Jennifer Lopez was still riding high from her breakthrough performance in "Selena" when she began dating rapper-mogul Sean Combs in 1999. It was a classic good girl, bad boy love story until December 1999 when shots erupted in a Manhattan nightclub — after which both superstars were arrested. While charges against Jenny from the block were dropped, Sean was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and possession of stolen property after police found a stolen gun in the vehicle the couple used to leave the nightclub after the shooting.
2000: Angelina Jolie kisses brother, elopes with Billy Bob Thornton
In terms of scandal, no one captured 2000 quite like Angelina Jolie. On March 26, a goth-styled Angelina caused quite a stir when she planted her lips directly on brother James Haven's mouth and gave him an exuberant kiss on Oscars night. Naturally, reports suggested Angie and her brother were in an incestuous relationship. Then the brazen star was spotted enjoying some serious PDA with her "Pushing Tin" co-star Billy Bob Thornton — who was engaged to actress Laura Dern at the time. To top off the wild year, Angelina and Billy Bob — who eloped in Las Vegas that May — wore vials of each other's blood around their necks because, well, why not?
2001: R&B singer Aaliyah is killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas
On Aug. 25, 2001, the world was rocked by the tragic passing of beloved 22-year-old R&B singer Aaliyah, who's seen here just a few weeks before her death. After she finished filming the music video for her single "Rock the Boat" in the Bahamas, Aaliyah, along with her hair stylist, makeup artist, a family friend and record label staff, boarded a small charter aircraft to travel back to Florida. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing the pilot and all eight passengers. Despite her career being cut far too short, Aaliyah's legacy has continued to endure decades after her passing, as she has often been regarded as redefining R&B and pop music.
2002: Halle Berry makes history at the Academy Awards
2002 was a big year for actress Halle Berry. At the 74th Annual Academy Awards, she took home the coveted best actress award for her starring performance as Leticia Musgrove in "Monster's Ball." That night, Halle made history — with her win, she became the first and only black actress and woman of color to win the award. "This is for every nameless, faceless woman of color who now has a chance because this door has opened," the Oscar winner said during her acceptance speech.
2003: Britney Spears and Madonna kiss at the MTV VMAs
The MTV Video Music Awards are notorious for being the scene of some of the most memorable, buzz-worthy moments in popular culture… especially in 2003. During an explosive opening performance at the annual show, pop legend Madonna joined forces with young pop stars Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera to perform the icon's hit songs "Like A Virgin" and "Hollywood." And, seemingly out of nowhere, Britney and Madonna locked lips during the performance. Cameras panned to Justin Timberlake for a reaction, given his recent split from the "…Baby One More Time" singer. In fact, cameras were so focused on JT's reaction that they missed capturing Madonna's kiss with Xtina. Regardless of editing choices, the moment has gone down as one of the most iconic in MTV VMAs history.
2004: Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy
Justin Timberlake is no stranger to controversy either. The Halftime Show at Super Bowl XXXVIII on Feb. 1, 2004, has gone down as one of network television's most memorable and controversial live moments. At the end of their performance, Justin Timberlake tore off part of Janet Jackson's bodice to reveal her exposed breast, which was adorned with a metallic piece of jewelry. The FCC received more than half a million complaints after the "wardrobe malfunction" sparked outrage and viewers debated whether or not it was intentional. The controversial moment was later dubbed "Nipplegate."
2005: Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt split
In January 2005, fans were devastated after news broke revealing that Hollywood golden couple Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt had called it quits after less than five years of marriage. "We would like to announce that after seven years together we have decided to formally separate. For those who follow these sorts of things, we would like to explain that our separation is not the result of any of the speculation reported by the tabloid media," began the statement. "This decision is the result of much thoughtful consideration. We happily remain committed and caring friends with great love and admiration for one another. We ask in advance for your kindness and sensitivity in the coming months." The split came in the wake of Brad filming "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Angelina Jolie, with whom he was accused of having an affair. (He and Angie both later admitted they'd fallen in love while working together.) As we all know, Brangelina went public as a couple not long after and split in 2016.
2006: Mel Gibson goes on racist tirade following arrest
On July 28, 2006, Mel Gibson was arrested in Los Angeles for driving under the influence. As reported by Vanity Fair, during his arrest — he was also speeding with an open bottle of alcohol i his vehicle — the actor went on an explosive, racist tirade. The incident sparked widespread outrage and Mel later released an apology addressing his anti-Semitic remarks. Many in Hollywood remained weary though Mel has since met with Jewish leaders to seek forgiveness. More than a decade after the painful incident, Mel staged a comeback of sorts when he earned a best director nomination at the 2017 Academy Awards in support of his film "Hacksaw Ridge."
2007: Britney Spears shaves her head
In February 2007, Britney Spears made headlines after she walked into a Tarzana, California, hair salon and shaved her head. The moment, which was photographed by a plethora of paparazzi and sparked the creation of memes like "If Britney can make it through 2007, then I can make it through today," marked a devastating and increasingly public decline for the beloved pop star. Just days after going bald, Britney attacked a photographer's car with an umbrella. The "Lucky" singer's 2007 breakdown culminated in a hospital stay that would eventually lead to a conservatorship that remains in place today. Britney explained why she shaved her head the 2008 documentary "For the Record," saying, "I was going through so much artificial stuff with my kids and [estranged husband] Kevin [Federline] at the time. He'd just left me and I was devastated," she said. "People thought that it was me going crazy and stuff like that, but people shave their heads all the time. I was going through a lot, but it was just kind of like me going through a little bit of rebellion, or feeling free, or shedding stuff that had happened, you know?"
2008: Beyonce and JAY-Z get married
2008 was the year two of the music industry's most prolific artists tied the knot: Beyonce and JAY-Z! That April 4, the music icons married in a wedding ceremony so secret, photos never emerged until the couple themselves revealed a few images many years later. "There was no rush — no one expected me to run off and get married," Beyonce told Seventeen in 2008. "I really don't believe that you will love the same thing when you're 20 as you do at 30. So that was my rule: Before the age of 25, I would never get married. I feel like you have to get to know yourself, know what you want, spend some time by yourself, and be proud of who you are before you can share that with someone else." In the years that followed, Bey and Jay's marriage — as well as Jay's cheating scandal and the forgiveness that followed — inspired Beyonce's "Lemonade" album, Jay's "4:44" album and their 2018 collaborative effort, "Everything Is Love."
2009: Kanye West storms the stage during Taylor Swifts acceptance speech at the MTV VMAs
There are few moments as alarming and cringeworthy as this. At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, a teenaged Taylor Swift accepted the Moonman for best video by a female artist for "You Belong With Me," but as she began her acceptance speech, Kanye West stormed the stage, grabbed the mic and declared, "I'mma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!" The moment left viewers thoroughly confused. Following the rapper's outburst, cameras immediately panned to Beyonce for her reaction, and she was seen staring at the stage in horror while mouthing, "Oh, Kanye!" Later that night, Bey won the award for video of the year for "Single Ladies" and instead of taking the time to make her own acceptance speech, she invited Taylor onstage to finish giving hers. The infamous moment is what sparked one of the music industry's most high-profile and enduring feuds between two of its most powerful, prolific players.
2010: Sandra Bullock divorces Jesse James after cheating scandal erupts then reveals she's a mom
It was one of the most explosive and heartbreaking revelations of the decade: Sandra Bullock and Jesse James called it quits after news broke revealing that the West Coast Choppers owner and reality TV star had been cheating on his actress wife. Details of Jesse's affair came out just days after Sandra won a best actress Oscar at the Academy Awards for her work in "The Blind Side" and lovingly and publicly gushed about him. In Touch magazine reported that Jesse had engaged in an 11-month relationship with tattoo model Michelle "Bombshell" McGee — and it was soon revealed that she wasn't the only one he'd been involved with. More women came forward just days apart from one another, and by April 2010, Sandra had filed for divorce. The same month, the pain was tempered by joy: Sandra appeared on the cover of People magazine to reveal that a few months earlier, she'd quietly adopted son Louis.