The cult of celebrity is a cultural phenomenon that has taken role of the rich and famous to such lofty heights that their behavior can be justified or forgotten just as easily as it is condemned. Oftentimes, pop culture has a way of putting celebrities in an untouchable bubble, transforming them into icons incapable of fault or blame. And in some cases, they are ostensibly above the law, free to operate in destructive and irresponsible ways while essentially immune from repercussions.
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By Brad Iger
The following article does not represent the opinions of Spike TV or its affiliates.
7. Phil Spector
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Spector is a world-famous record producer who helped create classic records like The Beatles’ Let it Be and John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, as well as creating the “Wall of Sound” recording technique which would be replicated countless times afterward. Phil is also a world-famous eccentric nutjob who’s currently working the legal system to skip out on the rap for the 2003 death of Lana Clarkson, a 40-year-old actress who was found dead at Spector’s house. Spector initially told the police “I think I killed someone” and then had his lawyers fight to have those statements thrown out due to “withdrawal from prescription drugs.”
In 2007, after a convoluted fiasco of a trial, which included multiple lawyers being replaced and subsequently sued by Spector, the jury deadlocked (10 for "guilty" and 2 for "not guilty") and the judge declared a mistrial. Spector remains free on bail to this day, as retrial proceedings have been slowed to a crawl through various legal obstacles presented by his lawyers.
6. Laura Bush
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As a teenager, the former first lady was a bit of a wildcat. While cruising around town with her high school friends in her Chevy Impala, Bush (known as Laura Welch at the time) blew through a stop sign and broadsided classmate and ex-boyfriend(!) Michael Dutton Douglas’ Chevrolet Corvair, ejecting him from the car as his father watched the entire situation unfold from a car following behind Michael.
Douglas was declared D.O.A. at Midland Memorial Hospital. Laura and her friend were treated for bumps and bruises and released. Miss Welch was not charged with any crime and did not receive any sort of traffic ticket whatsoever. She refuses to discuss the matter to this day.
5. Robert Blake
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Born Michael James Vincenzo Gubitosi, Blake was a child actor in late '30s/early '40s who managed to translate that success into a prolific adult career, most notably as the star of the Emmy Award-winning '70s cop drama Baretta.
In the late '90s, Blake met Bonnie Lee Bakley, a woman with a history as a career gold digger, exploiting older men for their wealth, especially celebrities. She had been dating Christian Brando, son of Marlon Brando, during her relationship with Blake, and became pregnant during that time, telling both men that they were the father. After DNA tests demanded by Blake proved that he was the real father, Blake and Bakley were married in 2000. It was Blake’s second marriage and Bakely’s tenth.
On May 4th, 2001, the couple went out for a dinner at an Italian restaurant in Studio City, California. After the dinner, Bakley was killed by a gunshot to the head while sitting in the couple’s car. Blake told police he’d gone back into the restaurant to retrieve a gun he’d left at the table (!) when the shooting occurred and missed the entire incident, though no witnesses to Blake’s return to the restaurant could be found.
The LAPD arrested Blake after retired stuntman Ronald Hambleton agreed to testify against Blake, stating Blake had attempted to hire him to murder his wife. Blake managed to get acquitted in the criminal trial in what many described as a horribly mishandled case by the district attorney, but he was later found liable for Bakley’s murder during a civil trial leveled against him by Bakley’s children. He was ordered to pay $15,000,000 (Blake filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter). He remains a free man to this day.
4. Vince Neil
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During the height of the hair metal excess of the 1980s, Motley Crüe was one of the most popular bands of the time, with multiple platinum records, and the kind of rock star fame that normal people can only read about in magazines.
In 1984, after a long session of binge drinking with Nicholas Dingley, known as “Razzle”, the drummer for the Finnish band Hanoi Rocks, the two decided to jump into Vince’s De Tomaso Pantera sports car to head out to the liquor store for some more booze. Along the way, Neil (whose blood-alcohol level was later revealed to more than twice the legal limit) lost control of the car, crashing head-on with another car, killing Dingley and seriously injuring the occupants of the other car.
Neil was later sentenced to 30 days in jail (shortened to 15 for good behavior), $2.6 million dollars in restitution to the victims of the crash, five years probation, and 200 hours of community service, but still manages to strangle prostitutes in his spare time.