Fame is fleeting. Andy Warhol said that we each get 15 minutes of it, but it seems like you get even less than that these days. In this article, we’ll share 10 stories of men and women who were once on top of the mountain and now labor in obscurity down in the salt mines. Let this serve as a cautionary lesson that nothing in this world lasts forever.
On the back of “U Can’t Touch This,” rapper MC Hammer sold over 50 million records worldwide. After his career tanked (an abortive attempt to go “gangsta” didn’t help), Hammer quickly went down the tubes, filing for bankruptcy. His $12 million home was sold out from under him, and he laid off his 200 personal staff and assistants. Although he’s tried to mount several comebacks, he does most of his work today as a consultant for tech companies. In 2011, he announced that he was going to launch his own search engine called WireDoo, but we’ll be damned if we can find it on Google.
Taran Noah Smith
Being a child actor is a great way to mess up your brain for life. Taran Noah Smith played youngest son Mark Taylor on '90s hit "Home Improvement," pocketing a pretty sizable chunk of change for his efforts. His family had control of his trust fund, but when the show ended, he sued them, got hold of $1.5 million, and married a woman 16 years older than he was. Together, the pair opened a money-losing vegan cheese business out of their home before divorcing in 2007. The house they lived in was absolutely trashed, with overpowering smells of urine and feces. The realtor trying to sell it advertised it as “absolutely the worst house in a prime location.” After losing his fortune, Smith recently was busted for DUI and possession of marijuana.
In the early '70s, "The Partridge Family" was a cultural juggernaut, making the entire cast of the family singing show famous. As wisecracking redhead Danny Partridge, Bonaduce was the toast of the teen magazines. But then the show ended and the young ginger had a hard time getting work. A quick downward spiral happened, with Bonaduce eventually living in his car behind Hollywood’s famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. He’s tried to recapture the limelight a few times, including such idiotic stunts as ripping one of his eyebrows off on TV and getting busted for beating and robbing a transvestite prostitute. Bonaduce now works as a morning drive-time DJ on a Seattle classic-rock radio station.
Playing the comic-relief character on a teen TV show isn’t the best way to secure a long-term career, but few flamed out quite as spectacularly as Dustin Diamond, aka Screech from "Saved by the Bell." His character was the oddball sidekick to A.C. Slater and Zack Morris, but after those characters moved on, Screech stayed with the franchise until the bitter end. After "Bell" went off the air, Diamond couldn’t really find much other work, and quickly saw his life spiral out of control. In 2006, Screech tried to cash in on the celebrity-sex-tape market by producing and “leaking” his own video to public indifference. In 2010, his house in Wisconsin was foreclosed on.
Another 1970s teen idol who couldn’t adjust to life post-Tiger Beat, Leif Garrett’s fall from grace is a terrifying tale. After releasing a few albums in the latter part of the decade, Garrett saw his career nosedive in the 1980s. A grotesque, Quaalude-fueled car crash in 1979 saw Garrett cripple best friend Ronald Winkler for life, but even that couldn’t scare Leif straight, as he continued to indulge in heroin and other narcotics over the next few decades. One of his lowest points came in 1999, when he was profiled on VH1's "Behind the Music" and claimed to have been drug-free for three years, only to be busted holding illegal substances just a few weeks later. In 2010, author Ian Halperin claimed that Garrett was now working as a male prostitute, sleeping with women -- and men -- who still remember his teen-idol days fondly.
Best known as Stephanie Tanner on "Full House," Jodie Sweetin demonstrates exactly how much drugs you can buy with Hollywood money. After the show ended in 1995, it looked like Sweetin was on a pretty good course: graduating from high school, going to college and taking scattered acting roles here and there. But after her marriage to police officer Shaun Holguin in 2002, Sweetin’s life began to take a serious nosedive. She started smoking crystal meth, which dominated her existence for the next two years. Amazingly, her cop hubby never noticed her addiction, despite Sweetin losing five teeth to the drug’s ravages. She checked herself into rehab, cleaned up, got a divorce and did the talk-show circuit to talk about her ordeal before getting married again and sinking back into the world.
Another child actor who hit the skids hard, Jerry Supirian got his big break on mid-'80s TV show "Small Wonder," in which he played the brother of a robot. Supirian was a little rascal on set, getting up to all kinds of high jinks, so it’s not surprising that his career went nowhere after the show was cancelled in 1988. Unfortunately, when he got control of his trust fund at 18, a stripper bilked him out of the entire amount, leaving him to work as a cook at a steakhouse. He also broke his back after being thrown from a horse, leaving him in constant pain. After losing his cooking job in Henderson, Nev., he returned to Los Angeles where he sleeps in his car under a bridge and works at a homeless shelter.
It was a hard choice to decide between "American Pie" co-stars Tara Reid and Natasha Lyonne for this spot on the list, as both spiraled out pretty hard after that smash-hit movie. Natasha Lyonne won the nod, however, as her fall from grace has been much darker. Lyonne started her acting career at the age of 6 on "Pee-Wee’s Playhouse" and went on to feature in movies like "Slums Of Beverly Hills." Unfortunately, a life of hard partying caught up with the starlet, and she spent most of the 2000s getting busted for DUI, sent into rehab, and arrested for threatening to molest her neighbor’s dog. Her lowest point came when she sublet an apartment from actor Michael Rapaport and completely trashed it, leading Rapaport to pen a tell-all article for Jane magazine about exactly how crazy Lyonne had become. After getting the boot from that apartment, she was reportedly found living on the streets and suffering from hepatitis C and a collapsed lung.
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We’ll close this article with one of the biggest and saddest superstar falls from grace of all time. Gary Coleman was the child star of the 1980s, becoming a huge celebrity on hit sitcom "Diff’rent Strokes." The pint-size actor sued his parents in 1989 for mismanaging his money and was awarded $1.3 million in 1993, but went bankrupt just a year later. With no acting roles, he was forced to take work as a security guard in 1998. He famously held an online auction of many of his possessions to stave off financial collapse, and in 2005 he moved to a small town outside of Salt Lake City, where he would live for the rest of his life.