As iconic as it is to be a Knowles, a Jackson, or an Angelina Jolie, it’s hard to keep everything about their lives away from the paparazzi. Or if they enjoyed fame and worship in their maiden years, they became scared as everything as personal as their last nightmare became the public’s business.
Subjects such as their unpopular opinions, questionable pasts, romantic flings, tragic histories, or unbeatable addictions are meals the public doesn’t get weary of, and celebrities have gone to great lengths and heights to bury them. Most are unsuccessful, the stories released against their will or after their deaths. Here are some of your favorite celebrities’ secrets that found their way out of their claws.
After her 1999 romantic drama, Pushing Tin, Angelina Jolie and fellow co-star Billy Bob Thornton had a romantic fling but kept it professional and a secret because she was dating her 1997 Playing God co-star Timothy Hutton while Bob was engaged to Laura Dern. The two managed to flee to Las Vegas after a two-month relationship to make it official in marriage.
More so, her op-ed was press released by The New York Times in 2015, where she came out about undergoing a preventive double mastectomy in 2013, as she had an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer, and another preventive salpingo-oophorectomy in 2015, as she had 50 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer. Surviving both wars gave her the courage to address other women on wise and healthy decisions.
American comedian and actor Robin Williams, who cheered the world with his energy and improvisational skills, broke the headlines when it was announced that he had committed suicide by hanging himself on August 11, 2014. The news was difficult for anyone to believe given his character off and on set.
His wife, Susan Schneider, stated that he had been hospitalized for a heart problem in 2009 and struggled with drug and alcohol addiction over the past decade but had lately became sober. But then he was diagnosed with early-stage Parkinson’s disease, which sent him right into depression and right to taking his life.
Acting as a counter clock to Leighton Meester’s popular character in the hit teen drama series Gossip Girl is her reality. Unlike her overachieving wealthy character Blair Waldorf, Leighton wasn’t raised in a wealthy atmosphere. In fact, in 2008, it became public news that her mother gave birth to her in 1986 while serving time for smuggling marijuana out of Jamaica for a drug ring.
Less than a month later, the real Leighton Meester came out, admitting her father, grandfather, and aunt were also involved in this ring. She went on further to admit in an interview with Us Weekly that her family criminal history made her ‘very non-judgmental and open-minded’ and made her count all she has achieved as a blessing.
Italian-American actress Rose McGowan, who appeared in the fantasy drama series Charmed, admitted in a 2011 interview with People magazine that her family was involved in the notorious polyamorous cult Children of God. It’s known formally as The Family International. Daniel McGowan, her father, oversaw the Italian version.
Growing up in a community where female members were constantly mistreated left a scar on her identity. At the age of nine, as she recalls, she and her family – her father, two siblings, and stepmother – escaped from the community while being chased when the leaders decided to Initiate sexual intercourse between adults and children.
Almost nothing eventful about celebrities stays hidden from Hollywood paparazzi; then you meet American songwriter, dancer, and actress Janet Jackson, who pulled it off twice. In March 1991, she got married to Mexican dancer, songwriter, and music video director René Elizondo Jr. Their union remained a secret until the dawn of their separation in 1999, which was finalized in 2000.
She met Qatar billionaire Wissam Almana in 2010. They got engaged and finally married in 2012. News of their union never surfaced until 2013 when she announced it. Three months after the birth of their only son in January 2017, Eissa Almana, they announced their separation.
American actor Charlie Sheen, who has struggled with relationships and illegal substances, admitted to NBC’s The Today Show in 2015 that he had been HIV positive for the past four years, and had been blackmailed during those years for a sum of $10 million by extortionists whose prize it was to keep his positive reputation a secret.
His doctor, Robert Huizenga, however, clarified that it hadn’t progressed to AIDS, but Charlie was sued by many of his past intimate partners for not coming clean with them. He, in contrast, said it was ‘impossible’ for any of them to have gotten infected given his consistent ritual of a triple cocktail of antiretroviral drugs.
Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones opened up publicly in 2011 about her struggles with depression, its threats against her mental health, and her bipolar II disorder. Both taboos nearly killed her after she discovered that her husband, Michael Douglas, who also is an actor, was diagnosed with stage I tongue cancer.
The actress has sought help twice, once in 2011 and again in 2013. In a 2012 interview with InStyle, Catherine warm-heartedly assured those who were struggling with the disease that it was ‘completely controllable.’ And she encouraged those who felt control was out of reach to get help immediately.
American singer and songwriter Prince, the king of weird, God bless his soul, admitted openly on PBS’s Tavis Smiley that as a child, he had undefeated struggles with epilepsy. He said his parents were limited as to how best he should overcome it but gave him the very best of their support.
He said his epilepsy made him a puppet for the bully and he compensated himself in his career as a musician to be as flashy, weird, and purple as he deserved to be. He finally said he could overcome his plague through divine intervention.
Singer-songwriter Ricky Martin has been of special interest to his fans, as it appeared they knew him better than he knew himself. He was in a sinusoidal relationship with Mexican TV presenter Rebecca De Alba. At one point their curve remained constant, causing the couple to consider their plans for the future and the children they’d have, giving Martin the idea that he would seal their fate in a proposal.
This didn’t, however, give his fans any room for doubt about his sexuality. Finally, in 2010, he came out through his website, saying he was a ‘fortunate homosexual.’ He dated economist Carlos Gonzalez, with whom he broke up in 2014. Two years later, he met Syrian-Swedish painter Jwan Yosef, and they sealed their fate in the union of marriage in 2017.
The terminating Arnold Schwarzenegger, Australian-American actor, bodybuilder, and politician, ended his 25-year marriage with his wife, journalist Maria Shriver. The Los Angeles Times assisted our curious minds in a report stating that Arnold had fathered a son with Patty Baena, the family’s housekeeper, 14 years prior.
Radar Online further stated that Ms. Shriver confronted Baena when her calculations added up, and when Baena confessed, she went on to confront her husband, who came clean as well. This secrecy left her with no other choice but to file for divorce. She still had the decency not to deprive her children of a father figure and bought a new home near her previous one. Arnold, fulfilling his bargain, bought Baena and their son a four-bedroom house in Bakersfield, California.
Being Queen Bey, it’s difficult to keep your moves and personal dealings to yourself, but that’s why you’re not Queen Bey. Beyoncé Knowles, who holds the music industry in her left palm, has her dealings in her right and out of reach from whomever it is she deprives her information.
In the early 2000s, she kept her relationship with rapper Jay-Z secret till she chose to be upfront with it in 2008. The two world icons married with 40 guest witnesses; such secret managers. She kept her first pregnancy a secret till her appearance on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2011 and made no buzz until she published her fifth solo studio album in 2013. In 2018 Teen Vogue described the album as one of the most important moments in music.
Former professional road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong, for all his success, was accused of doping throughout his entire career. Armstrong came out to the public and denied everything. He referred to the accusations as ‘outlandish’ and ‘heinous.’
In 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADD) uncovered his truth in an investigative revelation, showing that Armstrong had indeed been hiding behind the scenes of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his entire career. The reveal identified him as the ringleader of the most sophisticated, professional, and successful doping program in the world of sport. Leaving judgment for consequences, his seven Tour de France titles and his Olympic bronze medal were withdrawn and he received a lifetime ban from all sports following the World Anti-Doping Code.
High-paid American television actress between 2013 to 2019, Sofia Vergara, who is Colombian, had to make a life-changing decision as a single mother to either be a runaway or nurture her son in the gang-violent atmosphere of Colombia when Univision offered her a job to host a travel show in 1994.
She said yes, as she would then be housed in Miami. Of course, it didn’t mean her tragic days were over as they just had a jump start. Her elder brother, Rafael, was murdered in a botched kidnapping attempt shortly after she arrived in Miami, and her younger brother, Julio, who battled drug and alcohol addiction, got deported back to Colombia in 2011. The actress was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 28.
Barbadian singer, actress, and Fenty businesswoman Rihanna was raised in Bridgetown by her mother, Monica, an accountant, and her father, Roland, who supervised a warehouse. As a young girl, Rihanna acted as a mediator between her parents, as her father was addicted to crack and cocaine and abused her mother until their divorce when Rihanna reached 14.
The Sun, in 2011, stormed the world by publishing photos of Rihanna’s three half-siblings. Roland had secret relationships with three different women before sealing his fate with Monica, Rihanna’s mother. The four siblings are, however, close to each other as they hang out each time Rihanna visits Barbados.
One of the icons that greatly influenced the music industry was English singer David Bowie. Devastation, however, crept its way into our hearts following the death of this icon on January 10, 2016, at age 69. The singer knew about his condition 18 months before passing but chose not to give the world the heartache.
Fans all over the world paid tribute by laying down flowers at makeshift shrines, including one at his apartment in New York City and at his birth home, Brixton, South London. David released his last album before his death and requested that his ashes be scattered in Bali, Indonesia.
The youngest of five children born to Irish-American parents, American comedian and actress Kathy Griffin kick-started her entertainment career in the 1990s as a stand-up comedian. Before her big-breaking reality show, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-list, Kathy had appeared on several other television shows.
Kathy, in her best-selling autobiography, an Official Book Club Selection, referred to the past she shared with her older brother, Kenny, who is long gone, detailing how he sexually molested her and traumatized her. She also wrote about how abusive he was to the woman he called his wife.
Comedian, actor, and writer Richard Pryor, as opposed to his career path, had nothing in his history to laugh about. As a young child, he was cared for by his alcoholic mother, Gertrude, who was a prostitute in a brothel run by his abusive grandmother. At age 7, he was sexually abused before being abandoned at age 10 and forced to live with his grandmother. At age 14, Richard Pryor was expelled from school.
Richard soon began an acquaintance with an unbeatable addiction to drugs and alcohol. He was locked up for five months for drunk driving, then hospitalized for six weeks after setting himself aflame with rum and fire. Richard had a couple of failed marriages and died of a heart attack in 2005, days after his 65th birthday.
As a teenage girl, Theron grew up in the heart of Benoni, South Africa, close to Johannesburg. She grew up with both parents, including a drunken father, adding an additional act to the family. Charles, her father, while drunk on June 21, 1991, threatened both his wife, Gerda, and his teenage daughter, firing a gunshot at them.
Brave Gerda retrieved her gun and killed her husband, the drunk Charles. She was immediately arrested but released without charge as her act was one of self-defense. Charlize says living with an alcoholic Charles was more terrifying than the event that caused his death and never fails to praise her mother for her act of bravery.
In addition to his wife’s depression because of his throat cancer, Michael Douglas, an American actor, publicly announced his situation, saying he had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He later confirmed his cancer to be in stage IV and attributed blame to his old school years of drinking and stress.
To annul his seemingly white lie in 2013, Michael Douglas admitted that it was tongue cancer he had and not throat cancer. Aside from questioning his reason to have even publicized it in the first place, Douglas said his previous act was advised by his doctor, who thought announcing it as tongue cancer had a negative prognosis including potential disfigurement, especially since he decided to announce it before his promotional tour for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey is known for her five-octave vocal range. In her memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey, she spoke of her ugly childhood as well as the discord between her and her two siblings.
In August 2020, her eldest sister, Alison, accused her 83-year-old mother of sexually willing her to strangers as a child, saying that it gave her PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Alison, a prostitute by record in 2016, had attempted to sell Mariah to a pimp at age 12, tried to get her in with drugs, and caused a third-degree burn on her back with a boiling tea she poured on Mariah.
American actor and star of the American political series House of Cards, Kevin Spacey in October 2017 faced accusations from actor Anthony Rapp of making sexual advances to him as far back as 1986 when Rapp was 14. Fifteen other men, emboldened by this act, came out with the same accusations; eight of them were included in the cast of House of Cards. The actor was removed from the series’ finale season and was cut off from all streaming services, including his termination as a member of the cast of the crime thriller series All the Money in the world.
Randall Fowler, Rod Stewart’s impersonator and elder brother to Kevin Spacey, in an interview with The Daily Mail that same month said their father, Thomas Geoffrey Fowler, was sexually and physically abusive, a Nazi supporter, and a member of the American Nazi Party. Though Spacey wasn’t abused, Randall shared his experience of being raped multiple times by his father with the consent of his mother. The elder brother fears for Spacey committing suicide, and blames Spacey’s sly nature on their rough upbringing.
Front man of rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury, and his inner circle denied every allegation about Freddie’s ill condition speculated from his scrawny appearance. Finally, in 1987, he was diagnosed with AIDS, but Matt Richards and Mark Langthorne, authors of Somebody to Love: The Life, Death, and Legacy of Freddie Mercury, said he had had HIV as early as 1982.
As fast as Mercury’s health failed to be hidden, he charged his manager, Jim Beach, to give a press release to confirm his illness on November 23, 1991. Less than 24 hours after the press release, Freddie Mercury passed away in his home in Kensington at age 45.
American actor and filmmaker Jack Nicholson, whose career has spanned over 50 years, was approached in 1974 by a team of researchers from Time magazine. Jack, who was in his thirties at the time, was informed that his mother was his older sister, June, and his ‘parents’ were actually his grandparents.
As shocking as it was, they uncovered that June, who worked as a showgirl, gave birth to him at 17, and had support from her parents to raise Jack as theirs. By the time Jack found out, both his mother and grandmother had passed away. However, he said the revelation was a “pretty dramatic event” and that he was “psychologically infirm” when the news broke.
Television personality and comedian in Caroline’s Comedy Club, New York City, Rosie O’Donnell seized the opportunity as a stand-up act to come out as a lesbian in 2002. She did it, however, to raise awareness against agencies that restricted adoption for gay and lesbian couples and has since then spoken openly against their stunts.
O’Donnell says she had formerly been interviewed by Cosmopolitan, where she first publicly claimed to be gay, but the magazine decided to ignore her confession in its final printout in 1992. The Advocate, an LGBTQ-interest magazine, however, named her as its ‘person of the year.’
Best known for her role in the Lord of the Rings movies is an American actress who was raised by her mother, Bebe Ruell, and her adoptive father, musician and producer Todd Rundgren. The actress and the lead singer of Aerosmith, Steven Tyler, didn’t share the same last name from the onset as she never knew he existed, thanks to her mom.
Before age twelve, Liv got the chance to meet Steven and questioned their similarities. She went home and asked her mother, who finally deemed it fitting for her to know her truth. She had kept her from him cause of his drug addiction. The teenager began to see Steven Tyler for who he was and changed her last name to Tyler as their relationship grew stronger in 1991.
After the first season of the HBO popular series Game of Thrones, English actress Emilia Clarke, in an article she wrote for The New Yorker, opened up about a subarachnoid hemorrhage she had due to a damaged aneurysm. She doesn’t know exactly when it happened but her first symptom was a headache she began to feel at the gym in London. Afterwards, as she explained in her words, she became so “violently voluminously ill” that she had to be taken to the hospital.
In the emergency room, the hospital began an endovascular coiling surgery on her. In the process, she developed aphasia, which worsened to an extent she forgot her own name. Upon recovery, the hospital warned her that she had a small aneurysm on the other side of her brain. When it doubled in size in 2013, she was treated.
Nobody acquainted with the media is uninformed about Whitney Houston’s undefeated drug addiction and unsettled relationship with partner Bobby Brown. At a point, it appeared as though it was all to know about the award-winning singing icon. But that wasn’t all there was to Whitney, as revealed by her half-brother, former NBA player Gary Garland, in 2018.
In the documentary Whitney, written by Kelvin Macdonald, Gary Garland revealed that he and Whitney Houston were molested as kids by their trusted cousin, singer Dee Dee Warwick. Macdonald revealed that even Houston had hinted about it in an interview. Mary Jones, Houston’s assistant and friend, confirmed Garland’s allegations.
Australian-American actress Nicole Kidman, who was previously married to Top Gun actor Tom Cruise, married Australian-American musician Keith Urban in 2006, who is the love of her life. After their first child, Sunday Rose, was born in 2008, both parents took no hesitation in putting a release all over the media.
Both parents welcomed their second child, Faith Margaret, through a gestational surrogacy in 2010; unlike the first, they decided to keep her arrival out of the news. Whether they were happy about the child or the process wasn’t said. The reason they gave the media was that they kept her arrival on the down low to protect the parties involved with the surrogate process.
American actor Hugh Jackman was diagnosed with a rare yet treatable skin cancer called basal-cell carcinoma in 2013. Being loyal to his fans, he updated them immediately with where he was at that point in his life, showing his bandaged nose on Instagram. It scared the fans, but it was consoling to know it could be treated. This diagnosis was the reason he wore a bandage to his X-Men: Days of Future Past premiere.
He suffered other skin cancers after that. In 2015, in an interview on ABC News, Hugh told the media that his several cancers could be traced back to him refusing to sunscreen-protect himself as a child. And in 2020, before a doctor’s appointment, Hugh Jackman sought the opportunity to urge fans to do a skin check and always wear sunscreen.
English singer-songwriter and record producer George Michael had an unbounded communication with the media as his every word, step, and decision became fodder for the public. From his stage appearances to his unlawful appearances, every one of them found their path to the media, becoming both the praise and ridicule of the media.
The singer, however before his death made conscious efforts to keep some aspects of his life out of reach of the media. After his passing in 2016, many charities paying tribute revealed that Michael had been supporting them for years in secret. Dame Esther Rantzen of Childline said the charity had received millions from Michael over the years, adding that he also donated the royalties from his 1996 single Jesus to a Child to them. He also gave to individuals, including a contestant on the game show Deal or No Deal who needed £15,000 for an IVF treatment.
American talk show host, producer, actress, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey was born in rural Mississippi to a single teenage mother, Vernita Lee, into poverty. The grandmother took custody of Oprah for the first six years, and then her mother took over. When Vernita couldn’t care for both Oprah and her half-sister, Patricia, they moved in with their father.
Following her 1986 episode about sexual abuse, Oprah disclosed her past, saying that at the age of nine, she was molested by her cousin, her uncle, and a family friend. In 1990 an anonymous relative later revealed that Oprah had been pregnant at the age of 14, but the child died shortly after birth. Whoever did it left Oprah betrayed.
Rappers having a feud is nothing new in the music industry; in fact, it brings authentic colors to the industry when they diss others in a track. Such is the case between rappers Drake and Pusha-T that dates as far back as 15 years ago. In 2018, their feud was stirred up again after Pusha-T released the album Daytona. In the track Infrared, Pusha-T accused Drake of using ghostwriters.
He went further to release a diss track on the May 29, The Story of Adidon, where he accused Drake of having a son. Drake replied to him in his track Emotionless, a month after, where he explains that he kept his son, Adonis, a secret to protect him from the world. He was born to French painter and former model Sophie Brussaux on the October 11, 2017.
High-profile American actress Taraji P. Henson has the industry spotlight in her grip, having had major roles in movies like Hidden Figures and drama series like Empire. She has shown great dominance by giving the media only what needs to be seen and known and keeping the rest of her personal life to herself, until recently, her love life being a major example.
Appearing on Essence’s Yes Girl! podcast in 2017, she finally confirmed the rumors of her relationship with former NFL player Kelvin Hayden. She in fact sealed our hopes with the news of their two-year engagement. She said she wasn’t the type who gives all of her personal dealings to the public, but wanted the public to know that she was happy.