8/12/09

Whatever Happened To? #9: Down and Out Celebs


It’s always a bit sad to hear about a celebrity down on his or her luck. Usually, it’s something they’ve done to themselves (i.e. drug abuse, financial problems), but that doesn’t necessarily make it any less depressing. I was thinking about this after reading about the upcoming Saved by the Bell reunion. The entire cast is in attendance except Screech, who is now a bankrupt porn star. I never watched the show (okay, maybe a few times), but that’s freaking horrible.

Screech is following in the footsteps of the boy from the Richard Pryor/Jackie Gleason film, The Toy, who also became a porn actor. And speaking of actors entering the porn biz…

Possibly the worst case ever of an actor flushing his life down the toilet is Max Wright, the dad on the TV show ALF. The National Enquirer posted an expose on Wright after acquiring homemade sex tapes showing Wright smoking crack and having gay sex with a random homeless man he had literally just met. (source)

Another celeb who took a bad turn recently is the girl who played Stephanie on Full House. Evidently, the poor girl got addicted to meth. And then there's Carmine "The Big Ragu" from Laverne & Shirley, who was recently inolved in a drunken car crash in Vegas.

Joyce DeWitt was recently served with a DUI as well - with an equally disturbing mug shot (but then, who looks good in a mug shot?). I could go on all day about celebrities getting into trouble, but that's for trash like TMZ to cover, not me. That's one of the biggest downfalls of fame - they love you when you're at the top, but not half as much as when you're on the way down.

So, I don't typically take time to point fingers at actors and actresses down on their luck. Who knows why Dana Plato robbed a video store? Perhaps, it was for the same reason Margot Kidder turned up at a stranger's house, naked on a woodpile - a severe mental illness. I think people like to look and point at celebrity trainwrecks because it somehow makes them feel better about their own miserable lives.

So, I won't take up any more time with this sort of thing (unless it's as audacious as the Max Wright gay sex tape). However, there is one last celebrity I'd like to mention simply because it is still a mystery. The case of what ever happened to Amanda Peterson (Can't Buy Me Love) remains unsolved. Rumors abound with pretty good credibility, but nothing definitive. Here's two completely contradictory rumors:

Rumour #1: Amanda is currently happily married and residing in the beautiful Napa Valley with her husband, David Hartley and their son Jonathon and daughter Katie.

Rumour #2: She has an 18 month old daughter who was removed from her custody briefly a year ago due to Amanda breastfeeding her while she was doing drugs. Her ex-boyfriend, the baby's dad, was arrested for domestic violence against her. She also has been diagnosed with a mental illness. (source)

....Let's hope it's #1.

35 comments:

  1. I don't feel sorry for anyone who does drugs, period. There are a lot of capable, talented, intelligent people out of work right now who would kill for the lifestyles some of these people lead. It just says to me that these "stars" are being ungrateful and flushing it all down the toilet. They just confirmed that infomercial star Billy Mays had taken cocaine a few days before he died. As soon as I heard that, I just didn't feel sympathetic anymore.

    Am truly shocked, though, at Max Wright from "Alf." I guess the Mr. Meatloaf parody on YouTube isn't that far from reality.

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    1. AnonymousJuly 06, 2015

      Who cares who feels sorry for who.. You feeling sorry is just because that is what your mind has been shaped to do, not what you actually feel anyway. I feel sorry you feel it necessary to make statements at all.

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  2. The saddest for me is Bridgette Andersen from "Savannah Smiles". She was on a few sitcoms, but being in the biggest child's tearjerker of the 80's and her life ending like it did, is just super depressing.

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  3. To me, celebrity realty TV is the litmus test for determining whether or not an actor is washed up. Just check out an episode of "The Surreal Life" or "Celebrity Rehab" and you will see what I mean. Verne Troyer (mini-me) playing with himself on live TV and Jeff Conaway (Kenickie from Grease) whining like a baby in reality rehab with Dr. Phil - enough said.

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    1. AnonymousJune 16, 2012

      Came across this whole Amanda Peterson/where is she now? thing recently and was curious myself. Did some searching and I found this DUI booking http://azjails.info/?RID=111123859 which is accompanied by this image: http://phoenixmugs.com/mug/amanda-lee-peterson . Now, I'm no expert on this kind of thing, but I put the pics side by side and here's what I think: note the eyes, space between them (the same), the ear & lobes, and even the slightly askew front teeth same - the only thing that seems very different is the hairline, and, naturally, the overall appearance. i thought the nose was different but it's just the angle in the photos- the bridge & shape is the same. I don't know. This is just my two cents after about 1/2 hour of farting around on Google- but I do think it's her. It's Arizona - but who knows where she actually lives? (Colorado, AZ, Napa - so many different rumours!)

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    2. The woman in that picture is way too young to be the Amanda Peterson that was in Can't Buy Me Love. The girl in the pic isn't a day over thirty, if even that old.

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    3. AnonymousJuly 27, 2013

      The girl in the mugshot looks NOTHiNG like Amanda Peterson and she was born in 1980!! Amanda Pererson was born in 1971! Seriously..... Not even a close call!

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  5. goretrogirl - I acutally do feel sorry for those who have had their lives ruined due to drugs. Look at Robert Downey, Jr. and Drew Barrymore - their parents condoned it and even gave it to them. How can this be their fault?

    I'll also say it's easy to disparage those celebs who've abused drugs, but we're not in their shoes. I don't know about you, but I don't have access to millions of dollars and people literally throwing drugs at me on a daily basis. In other words, if I was the lead singer of Aerosmith, I'd probably six feet under by now.

    Turnidoff - Whoah! I was unaware of the whole Amanda deal.... I'll have to check it out, moviezzz.

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  6. It's always sad for me to see folks who are so fast to judge and condemn others who have struggled with drugs, alcoholism or mental illness. It's a distinctly non-humanistic and ignorant viewpoint that I abhor. Many, if not most, addicts also have mental illness of one form or another, however brilliant and hyper-intelligent they may be as artists, etc.)

    I'm glad, actually, to see celebrities such as Robert Downey Jr. overcome near-death battles with drugs and achieve success again. Just hope he stays clean, which is far more difficult that a non-addict could ever even begin to understand.

    With that said, another casualty of addiction was Sarah Holcomb, the promising young actress whose career was taking off with roles in Animal House and Caddyshack. She soon disappeared after Caddyshack, never to be heard from again.

    Nice post, Gilligan -- I really appreciate your compassion and the non-judgmental position you take.

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  7. I'm not talking about kids that had drugs forced upon them, like Robert Downey Jr., Drew Barrymore, and Judy Garland. I can certainly feel empathy for that kind of situation, but many of the examples in your post were old enough to make their own choices. I don't think that having access to millions of dollars and people providing you with drugs is a good excuse to take them.

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  8. Are any of you guys parents? Do you have children old enough to be dating? If so, how would you feel if you son or daughter were dating someone who was abusing drugs? I'm willing to bet, despite the sympathy here, those of you who are parents would have a difficult time feeling sorry for them.

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  9. Who videotapes themselves smoking crack? That's weird.

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  10. Crackheads tape themselves smoking crack. They're not known for thinking about long term consequences.

    Not to get into a "can-you-top-this" debate, but I think Mary Anissa Jones (Buffy in FAMILY AFFAIR) had the most tragic and unhappy life of all. Two songs were recorded about her life, the most (in)famous being "Buffy Buffy Come back To Me" which has popped up on a lot of outre/novelty compilations.

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  11. You would think that the older, more experienced, actors would realize that fame is a roller coaster at best. I can see why the younger ones fall flat on their face. When you hit it big it will last forever.

    I am taking bets as to which of today's young stars will be tomorrows tabloid headlines.

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  12. goretrogirl- I understand where you're coming from. A lot of times it's a matter of making bad choices, and the addict has no one to blame but their self.

    However, just thinking about how stupid and irresponsible I was when I was younger (say 18 or 21), and if you had given me millions of dollars and access to anything I wanted, I would've been like a kid in a candy store. Now that I'm older, I can see how that would be a serious mistake, but, let's face it, most kids just live for today, and are not mentally equipped to cope with the lures and trappings of fame.

    buzz- Buffy is the perfect example. Several drug related deaths disturbed me when I was younger - Freddie Prinze was another.

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  13. I understand where you're coming from, too, Gilligan. I truly don't mean to sound like a heartless beyotch on here - I guess I'm just thinking of people like the recently deceased spokesman Billy Mays...the autopsy report says he had cocaine in his system, and I'm thinking of the millions of unemployed people who would love to have a gig like his.

    I understand that it depends on the person, the situation, and their background. I will say this about Drew Barrymore...she's been on the sobriety wagon for 25 years now, which is no small achievement.

    I should point out to another commenter that I wasn't being unsympathetic to people with mental illness...that is often something beyond someone's control.

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    1. Typically, there is a reason people start taking drugs. Sometimes, there are mental health issues. Sometimes, there are underlying causes for those mental health issues (e.g., abuse in childhood). The drugs offer a temporary respite but, of course, soon become a problem in themselves. My point is that people don't just roll out of bed one day and think, "I have a lot of money. I think I'll become an addict." People usually believe they can try something and let it go, but for anyone who has had any kind of addiction (work, food, drink, another person), we know that is not easy, even at first, at becomes close to impossible once drugs have rewired your brain and whatever support system you once had (like when you were young or making money for someone) begins to evaporate.

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  14. Well said, goretrogirl. I think it's time for a group hug :-)

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  15. My wife has told me that one of her high school classmates actually wrote for Saved By The Bell. Surprised the hell out of me; from the few episodes I watched, I assumed they made it up as they went along. Kind of like Reno 911! without the talent.

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  16. I would take the Max Wright thing with a grain of salt. As far as I can tell, its pretty much all comes from a National Inquirer story. Not exactly a periodical known for its journalistic integrity.

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  17. What about the pictures, Jim? What about the pictures? And I don't think Photoshop can make things look that seedy - that's genuine nastiness in my opinion.

    BTW, anyone ever heard the urban legend that Screech is the son of Ruth Buzzi? Or, perhaps, that rumor only traveled to my small corner of the universe.

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  18. Could be a guy that looks like him, that does happen. There are nude pictures of Britney Spears out there that look amazingly like her, but are of a different girl all together.

    Or it could be shopped, that happens too. One can do amazing things with photoshop, especially if it is grainy quality like it is here.

    But mostly I think it isn't true because it shows up nowhere else except the Enquirer. Its far too juicy a story for it to be ignored by everyone except them. Far as I can tell from everything but the Enquirer, the most the guy has done is drunk driving, which is bad enough, but not quite up there with crack fueled gay orgies.

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  19. Oh, and love the blog by the way. Not hating on you or nothing.

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  21. I'm sorry, but where was this reported? Its not on any reputable news source I can find online. The only things I can find are blogs and gonzo sites that either take it straight from the Enquirer story or site no reference at all.

    Where are these "most' online bios? The major ones that come to mind are Wikipedia and IMDB and neither make any reference to it at all.

    I don't doubt that Howard Stern might have talked about it, it does seem like his kind of story, but Howard Stern isn't exactly known for his journalistic integrity either (nor should he, he's an entertainer, not a journalist)

    The story in a Enquirer claimed the tapes were filmed by one of the other guys in the video. There is no mention of FBI tapes. So what is your source on that?

    I did come across something about how much he looked like Ollie North's lawyer. Who's to say its not the lawyer?

    I mean, I understand there is a certain schadenfreude from believing the worst of our celebrities and God knows some of them do some screwed up things,but come on guys, a little less credulity here.

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  22. Jim- No offense taken. And funny you should mention that it could be a guy that looks like Max Wright - I've always thought Senator Leiberman could be his clone... even his voice is identical. Maybe it was Leiberman smoking crack with homeless men?

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  23. Given some of Senator Leiberman's votes, it does seem likely.

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  24. I mean, I understand there is a certain schadenfreude from believing the worst of our celebrities and God knows some of them do some screwed up things,but come on guys, a little less credulity here. tiffany jewelry

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  25. It just goes to show that stardom and all that goes with it will corrupt most people, as you say making them ungrateful to appoint where they end up flushing it all down the toilet. I think we should be sympathetic with them even when they resort to drugs etc. I know I would not swap places/lifestyles with them.

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  26. That is definitely not Amanda in the DUI pic..

    She is alive and well. Pics of her:
    http://www.krproductionscolorado.com/amanda-peterson.php

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  27. http://www.krproductionscolorado.com/amanda-peterson.php

    She is alive and well.. Not her in that DUI pic.

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  28. how does Kutchie Pelaez make his key lime pies so much better than anyone else can? is it some kind of magic or something?

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  29. Amanda Peterson is no longer with us; the official story is died of sleep apnea. Which sounds to me like Bill the Cat dying of acne.

    Coke, is my bet. I advice not sniffing the stuff.

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  30. AnonymousJuly 30, 2015

    As everyone likely knows by now, Amanda Peterson did indeed die. However, her death was only "possibly" attributed to sleep apnea and that was a guess by her father her also claimed she had some health issues before her death. The rumors about her getting into drugs after she seemingly left Hollywood on her own have turned out to be true. I don't think that's shocking to anyone who saw the photos of her someone posted on IMDb (and quickly deleted but they're still around) around 2010 or so, and from the photo shoot she participated in in 2012. As it was when Amanda was alive, rumors abound about how serious things got with her drug use and there is precious little information that is verified by her family. I'm sure her family went through a lot with her and they're not terribly eager to rehash the past. Conversely, they seem to believe she was totally drug free at the time of her death and wholly dismiss the idea that her death is drug related.

    As for the (old as dirt!) Max Wright story, I don't think it should be dismissed outright because The Enquirer reported on it. The Enquirer is a rag to be sure, but they've also broke stories that were 100% true (John Edwards, anyone?). Wright was a character actor who got little press outside of his tenure as "the dad from ALF". I can't imagine many media outlets outside The Enquirer would care about the story and I highly doubt any respectable outlet would pay for pictures/video like that because the entire situation is not only sad but pretty sleazy. Wright was also arrested for DUI a few times and even entered rehab and that wasn't widely reported, so it's not difficult to fathom that certain media outlets don't care about certain stories. Further, the Wright story ran years ago (late 90s I believe) before places like TMZ existed. The internet obviously existed, but I don't recall it being as rabid as it is now. Shockingly, there was a time in the world when every bit of a person's dirty launder wasn't hung out to dry. We've just become so used to that way of life that we think multiple outlets have to report on something for it to be proven true. I also don't see how those photos could be Photoshopped. Wright was never near famous enough for someone to go to all that trouble.

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