The life of a celebrity can be murder – literally. Celebrities are often regarded as demigods who are beautiful, perfect and above the law. But beneath the public façade of Botox, Armani and Chanel, there exists a darkness that lures even the rich and famous into committing heinously shocking crimes. As though acting out roles in their own personal tragedies, here are some of the fallen stars who’ve ended up behind bars.
Acclaimed record producer and owner of some really bad wigs, Phil Spector pioneered the “wall of sound” production technique and the distinctive 1960’s girl group sound. The numerous luminaries he worked with included the Beatles, the Ramones, Ike and Tina Turner, and the Ronettes.
In 2003, actress Lana Clarkson was found dead in Spector’s mansion from a bullet wound to the mouth. Spector claimed that the wound was self-inflicted. The producer, however, had a history of pulling guns on women who’d spurned him. Wouldn’t unfriending them on Facebook be just so much easier? Although his first trial ended with a hung jury, a second trial deemed him guilty. Spector was sentenced to 19 years to life.
Sid Vicious was the bassist for the notorious British punk rock band, The Sex Pistols. He and his girlfriend, prostitute Nancy Spungen, both had fierce heroin addictions. Awakening in a drugged stupor on October 12, 1978, Vicious allegedly found Spungen on the bathroom floor of their hotel room in New York. She had bled to death from a knife wound to her abdomen.
Arrested and charged with her murder, Vicious often changed his story about Spungen’s death. First he would state that he had accidentally stabbed her during an argument, not intending to kill her, then he’d claim to remember nothing from that night. He didn’t have to serve any time for the crime though – Vicious died several months later from a heroin overdose.
“Iron Mike” turned to putty during his trial for the rape of 18 year-old Miss Black Rhode Island, Desiree Washington. She claimed that he invited her to a party, and then the two of them went to his hotel room, where he allegedly pinned her to his bed and raped her. At a time when the public was becoming aware of date rape, the Tyson trial transformed into a national sensation. He claimed that the sex was consensual; she claimed it wasn’t. After deliberating for 10 hours, the jury arrived at a guilty verdict. Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison, followed by four years of probation. After serving three years, he was released.
Robert Blake is a quirky actor who comes up with quirky alibis. A former child star, Blake graduated to films, and to his own series, “Baretta.” In 2000, he married Bonnie Lee Bakley, who had her own quirks, including a penchant for taking advantage of older men – particularly famous ones – for money.
Leaving Bakley in the car, Blake returned to the restaurant where they’d both just eaten, to retrieve his gun from the table. Not his wallet, not his checkbook – his gun. When Blake returned to the car, Bakley had been shot to death. On trial for her murder, Blake was found innocent. Another jury, however, determined that he was responsible for Bakley’s death, and demanded that he pay her children $30 million.
O.J. Simpson – football player, broadcaster, actor and alleged murderer – was the prime suspect when his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, waiter Ron Goldman, were brutally stabbed to death at Brown’s condo. Highly dramatic, the proceedings that followed, dubbed the “Trial of the Century,” were broadcast internationally, lasted a whopping 17 months, and skyrocketed into a television and tabloid sensation.
Despite numerous accounts of spousal abuse and sufficient DNA evidence, Simpson was acquitted of both murders. In 1997, a civil court decreed that he pay a $33.5 million penalty for the wrongful deaths of Brown and Goldman. In 2007, The Juice got squeezed – he was arrested in Las Vegas for armed robbery and kidnapping, and was sidelined by a guilty sentence of 33 years in Nevada’s Lovelock Correctional Center.
Flamboyant and outspoken, boxing promoter Don King – with his shocking shock of hair – has worked with some of the most famous names in the sport, including George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. While running an illegal bookmaking operation, King was on the ropes for two murders that were 13 years apart.
After shooting Hillary Brown in the back, the killing was deemed justifiable homicide, since Brown was trying to rob King at the time. In 1966, King was convicted of second degree murder for stomping to death an employee who owed him a paltry $600. King served almost four years for his crime. The expression, “Never a borrower or lender be,” is probably one of King’s favorites.
Underneath all the glitz and glamour of fame, celebrities are just mere mortals who have bad hair days, get parking tickets – and commit major crimes. These are just a few of the celebrities who thought they could get away with murder – they fought the law, but the law won.