In a time when anything from personal musings on social media to surreptitiously documented misconduct can be disseminated instantly across the world, we’re no longer surprised to find formerly beloved celebrities in the cross-hairs of hyper-public scandals.
The celebrities themselves are another story. Dr. Baer, the eponymous (former?) host of The Dr. Baer Show in Eliza Clark’s World premiere comedy Quack—onstage at the Kirk Douglas Theatre October 21 – November 18, 2018, seems fairly shocked by his own downfall. No matter how the turmoil pans out for the embattled endocrinologist, there may be some comfort in knowing that his situation is not unique, as demonstrated by these well-known celebrity career meltdowns.
From lawyer to U.S. Senator to vice presidential candidate, John Edwards’ star had been on a consistent rise through the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, in late 2007, during his presidential campaign, The National Enquirer began reporting on an alleged extramarital affair between Edwards and one of his campaign workers. By mid-2008, even after the campaign was suspended, the story eventually began to be picked up by more mainstream news outlets.
The pressure mounted until August, when Edwards admitted to the affair; however, the scandal didn’t stop there. After denying fathering his mistress’ child, having additional lurid details come to light while his wife was undergoing treatment for terminal cancer, and facing indictment on federal charges for allegedly using campaign funds to attempt to hide the affair, Edwards at one point declared that he
was a sinner but not a criminal Having avoided a conviction due to a mistrial, Edwards did manage to maintain that distinction… barely.
Celebrity chef and lifetime butter advocate Paula Deen had been a mainstay in suburban living rooms through her programming on the Food Network channel and her restaurants thanks to her less-than-healthy signature recipes. Having risen from humble beginnings, Deen’s success and persona as a salt-of-the earth, southern food authority may have inadvertently worked against her when a racially charged scandal arose.
In 2013, an employee at a restaurant Deen co-owned filed a lawsuit against her claiming alleged sexual harassment and racial discrimination. While the case was eventually settled out of court, Deen did admit during a deposition to having used racial slurs at certain points in her life. After the release of the deposition transcript, the Food Network subsequently cancelled her shows, and her merchandise was dropped by many retailers. Though Deen’s career has recovered somewhat as she established her own programming and new product lines, it is fair to say she suffered a devastating professional blow, although it seems it did give her some time to work on her dance moves.
Up until late 2017, Matt Lauer was considered one of America’s most iconic news anchors. Having co-hosted NBC’s Today show for 20 years—along with hosting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for nearly as long, as well as opening ceremonies for several Olympic Games—Lauer was a morning news staple for many American households. But on the night of November 29, 2017, a memo sent to the entire staff of NBC News explained that one of Lauer’s colleagues had filed a complaint against him for sexual harassment.
With NBC News Chairman Andy Lack elaborating in the memo that they had reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident, NBC News terminated Lauer that evening. In the following days, outlets reported on further allegations that alleged a pattern of harassment and abuse of power over the span of years, including his use of a button under his desk that remotely locked his office door. While not much has been heard from Lauer since he was fired, one would hope he has reevaluated his own behavior with at least as much scrutiny as he did with other alleged high-profile harassers. Maybe he has… but maybe not.
While this entry may come a bit too soon for fans of her eponymous show, Roseanne Barr perhaps faced one of the quickest turnarounds from comeback to career scuttling in recent celebrity history. Riding the wave of revivals and reimaginings within the television industry, Roseanne had a phenomenally well-received revival on ABC in 2018.
And yet, while Roseanne had a preexisting reputation for provocative social media posts, the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back came after she made a racist tweet about a former adviser to President Barack Obama. While Roseanne maintained that her comment had nothing to do with race, the reaction from ABC and the media was swift and decisive, and her show was immediately cancelled. It is perhaps a testament to her achievements how quickly the show she had helped create was brought back afterward, even without its titular character, yet it’s unclear if she’ll manage a personal comeback once the dust has settled.