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Hollywood's Messiest Celebrity Breakdowns

At this point only God may be able to save the Sheen but he’s certainly not the only well-known person to lose it publicly. The Fix tracks a series of bold-faced breakdowns, ranking them in order of messiness.

  • Robert Downey, Jr.

    Robert Downey, Jr. may have had less than zero going on when he was arrested on drug charges, sent to rehab, left rehab four hours later, and later jailed for missing a drug test, but somehow he always seemed more like Little Boy Lost than Menacing Lunatic. Still, being busted, high, in a Palm Springs hotel room with a lass in a Wonder Woman costume roughly four years after he was discovered curled up in a quilt in a random Malibu family’s child’s bed didn’t do much to make us think he was getting better. Now that he’s come back stronger than ever, he will forever be mentioned in articles about the bright future Sheen could (and alas probably will never) have.

    Photo: Getty Images

  • Britney Spears

    In February 2007, Britney Spears began an epic meltdown that included leaving her kids at home while partying nights away with Lindsay and Paris, flashing her delicate lady flower area, shaving her head, smashing a photographer’s car with an umbrella, shacking up with a sleazebag paparazzi, losing custody of her children, adopting the hot pink wig of insanity, being admitted to mental facilities and rehabs, flopping in a huge way at the 2007 MTV VMAs and ultimately, losing conservatorship of her estate to her father. But having to surrender to her reportedly sober Dad proved to be just the 180 turn she needed: she seems to have a firm grasp on both her health and career. Not to mention her head of hair.

    Photo: Getty Images

  • Lindsay Lohan

    Ah, how do we begin to describe Lindsay Lohan’s meltdowns? Maybe with the time she lost it because she almost didn’t get a first class seat on a flight. Or perhaps it was when she was caught going stalker-wild on ex-girlfriend Sam Ronson. Or when she admitted in multiple interviews to abusing cocaine.  Or potentially when she rang in her 24th birthday by getting punched in the face at a Hollywood nightclub, then tweeted about it. But really, isn’t a stack of mugshots enough to sum it all up? Alas, this girl can’t seem to get out of jail and rehab long enough to make a hit movie. The closest thing she gets to good press these days is by looking better than her dad by not agreeing to appear on Celebrity Rehab and the few occasional kind words that are penned about what she's wearing when she’s photographed slinking up to the LA County courthouse. With the double whammy of narcissistic parents and child stardom, LiLo had the cards stacked against her but we’re still holding out for a Downey style comeback.

    Photo: Getty Images

  • Mel Gibson

    It doesn’t get much messier than good ol’ Sugar Tits.  On July 28, 2006, Mel Gibson was pulled over on the PCH and arrested for driving under the influence.  Sloppy Gibson expressed his opinion to the (Jewish) arresting officer that “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” called a female cop “Sugar Tits,” and pissed on the floor of his cell.  But what happened four years later might have made him long for those days – when his baby mama Oksana Grigorieva released phone messages he’d left her in which the damning part wasn’t that he threatened to burn her house down but that he insisted she “blow me first.”  While we're always hoping for a comeback, Gibson is becoming increasingly hard to support.

    Photo: Getty Images

  • Anne Heche

    Either Anne Heche really is God and going to take everyone back to heaven in her spaceship or she was on some really good shit when she donned a sports bra and boxers and knocked on a Fresno, California’s stranger’s door back in August of 2000 to declare her identity and plan. Her explanation to Barbara Walters that God had asked her to take ecstasy that day and that “Fresno was the culmination of a journey” didn’t help convince us she had it together but at least she didn’t ask Babs if she could use her shower. Still, Heche is nothing if not industrious, bouncing back from her ephemeral Ellen DeGeneres lesbianism and ugly divorce with a new man and child.

    Photo: Evan Agostini/Gamma/Getty Images

  • Christian Slater

    You’ve got to hand it to Christian Slater: when he was found “swinging his arms and yelling incoherently” before getting in a fight, he admitted he’d been drugging it up (a previous stint in the slammer for a DUI and JFK airport gun arrest perhaps had helped clarify why it’s often easier to just come clean). Despite a declaration that he “saw the big picture” and was going to change his ways, he was later charged with assault for groping a woman on the street. Still, these days he's supposedly sober and certainly working consistently. And, of course, he still has that great voice.

    Photo: Getty Images

  • Kitty Dukakis

    Kitty Dukakis survived a 26-year addiction to amphetamines disguised as diet pills but sank to her lowest lows when she guzzled nail polish remover, mouthwash, and hair spray—hitting rock bottom when she was hospitalized for drinking rubbing alcohol after her husband Michael's loss in the 1988 presidential election. Her tale of pain, shame, and White Rain has a happy ending: she sought help, shares her story around the world and even has her own treatment center. Watch out, Betty Ford.

    Photo: Getty Images

  • Rush Limbaugh

    There’s nothing conservative about obtaining (and taking) 2000 pills over six months procured from four different doctors and being involved in illegal prescription drug activity. Try telling Rush Limbaugh, who, in 2003, reportedly did just that. More shockingly, it was Limbaugh’s housekeeper who tipped off investigators, saying she’d spent years buying thousands more for him off the black market.  Smartly choosing to go the come-clean-and-all-is-forgiven mea culpa perfected by Hugh Grant, the radio star confessed on-air to a pill problem that was the result of back pain, shuffled off to rehab, pled “not guilty” in his trial and watched the investigation wrap up in 2006.

    Photo: Getty Images

  • Kate Moss

    People don’t tend to nickname you Cocaine Kate for nothing.  Megamodel Kate Moss learned how to raise hell with the best of ‘em long ago. But her crystallizing moment came in 2005 when The Daily Mirror slapped pics of her on their cover chopping up lines of pure white love. After losing huge endorsement deals and releasing an innocuous statement, she ended up reportedly doubling her income, thereby proving that rules somehow don’t apply to her (but we kind of already knew that just looking at her).

    Photo: Getty Images

  • David Hasselhof

    David Hasselhoff probably won’t be doing hamburger commercials anytime soon. In addition to that infamous video, more blazing red flags waved when he was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning twice in six months in 2009.  Only suitable as a lifeguard to someone suicidal, at the rate the Hoff going, he'll drink himself off of every stage except for lip-synching at a few gay beer festivals in Germany. Of course we haven’t given up on the Hoff—and neither has the industry, as he’s still judging televised talent shows. Let’s just hope his home camera-worthy moments are behind him.

    Photo: Getty Images

  • Whitney Houston

    Whitney Houston first fell from grace when she painfully birthed what’s become the most overused drug phrase in the game—“crack is wack”—during a 2002 Diane Sawyer interview. Though she admitted to past drug use, she claimed to be over it.  Hell-to-the-no she wasn’t.  After divorcing her husband, she aired more dirty laundry in an Oprah interview in 2009, and tried to stage a clean and sober comeback, but has suffered big-time embarrassments. Yes, Whitney, we’ll always love you. Now can you please make it a little easier?


    Photo: Getty Images

  • Liza Minelli

    When your mom is Judy Garland and you go to rehab more often than you change your hairstyle, you’re clearly already familiar with melting down. But Liza Minnelli's biggest crash had to be when, in 2002, she married a flaming producer named David Gest. Less than two years later, that relationship was definitely no Cabaret: Gest publicly accused her of being an abusive drunk and tried to sue her for $10 million. But not before the couple kissed in a way that horrified people worldwide and made an ill-fated reality show that was cancelled before all the episodes even aired. Still, she’s our Liza and we’re hoping that this month’s release of the Arthur remake reminds many—including her—of just what a national treasure she is.

    Photo: Getty Images

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By Justin Knox 03/25/11

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