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Mel Gibson

Celebrity Career Killers

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By Brian Hurwitz

To err is human. But some mistakes are more forgivable than others. And some are so bad that they destroy careers. Both the public and the legal system has shown itself to be quite lenient with celebrities who bend the law. Yet some have strayed too far off the path of common decency to ever be welcomed back into their fans' hearts or their industry's good graces. On occasion, a few have allowed time to heal all wounds as they once again managed to climb the ladder of success. Yet these days there are some trespasses that cannot and will not ever be forgotten nor forgiven.

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Rob Lowe
Gettyimages | Charley Gallay

80's heartthrob Rob Lowe's career was derailed after a sex tape emerged of him engaged in a threesome with two women. The problem was that one of the women was revealed to be underage. At the time, it was believed Lowe would never work again. Slowly but surely, however, Lowe rebuilt his image and was ultimately re-embraced by both the public and the entertainment industry. It's taking Mel Gibson quite a bit longer to rehab his image. Following his arrest for a DUI in 2006 when he erupted in a racist and sexist tirade against his arresting officers, Gibson's questionable past revealed similar outbursts. While he continues to produce and star in films, Gibson has not come close to enjoying the adoration of millions like he once did.

Michael Richards
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In 2006, Michael Richards, best known for playing Kramer on Seinfeld, was performing at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, CA. During his routine, Richards got so upset with a heckler that he shouted the N-word at him numerous times. After a video of the encounter went viral, Richards retreated from public life and his career never recovered. Similarly, Isaiah Washington was on top of the world in 2007 as a co-star on the hit show Grey's Anatomy. But when he called his openly gay fellow cast member T.R. Knight a "faggot," Washington was fired from the show and his career was put on ice.

Brian Williams
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In 2003, NBC news anchor Brian Williams greatly exaggerated a story of how, while in Iraq, a helicopter in which he was flying came under heavy fire. No one called him out on it. But when he retold the same story in 2015, it was discovered Williams wasn't even on the helicopter. Williams subsequently lost his job as anchor and, although he has managed to regain some of his credibility, he will never again be fully trusted as a journalist.

Paula Deen
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For years, Paula Deen was the beloved face of the Food Network with more endorsement deals, cookbooks and TV shows than could easily be counted. However, that all changed in 2013 when she was leveled with a lawsuit for racial discrimination. In the wake of the event, Deen's apparent racial insensitivity came to light owing to a number of reported comments she'd made throughout her reign as the queen of Southern comfort food. The Food Network canceled her shows, and her endorsement deals with Walmart, Target and QVC, amongst others, disappeared. Today, she continues to make television appearance and write cookbooks, but her empire and her reputation may never recover.

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