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7) THE STARS: Sarah Miles and Burt Reynolds
THE SCANDAL: In 1972, Miles and Reynolds, both of whose careers were just taking off, co-starred in the Western romance The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing. In the movie, the rough outlaw played by Reynolds abducts and eventually wins the heart of the flinty English beauty played by Miles, in the course of a story that requires her to suffer at the hands of crueler, less photogenic men. Midway through filming, Miles herself was physically attacked by her business manager, David Whiting, and sought sanctuary by fleeing to Reynolds' quarters; the next morning, Whiting was found to have committed suicide.
THE FALLOUT: At first, the creepy synchronicity between the movie's plot and what happened on the set inspired a certain amount of interest and rumor-mongering, and Esquire ran a purplish article by Ron Rosenbaum titled "The Corpse as Big as he Ritz." Two things splashed cold water on the whole thing: Miles (who was married at the time to playwright Robert Bolt) and Reynolds (who was embarking on a very public relationship with Dinah Shore) failed to hold up their end by having a steamy affair, and the movie turned out to be so dull that no amount of gossip could prop it up at the box office. Much of the blame belonged to Miles; her offscreen reputation as an irresistable temptress didn't come across onscreen. Her failure to become a star probably had little to do with the unhappy fate of David Whiting. As for Burt Reynolds, Cat Dancing was a blip in his career, sandwiched between his first big hits Deliverance and White Lightning, and was almost instantaneously forgotten.
8 ) THE STARS: James Woods, actor and nut, and Sean Young, nut
THE SCANDAL: In 1988, Woods, then forty-one, and Young, twenty-eight, co-starred in the raging-cokehead drama The Boost. They then had a nasty public spat that played into popular hysteria over "stalkers" and "fatal attractions." Woods claimed that the two of them had enjoyed an on-set affair and that Young, unable to let go, had tried to keep his heart tingly by burning the limbs off a doll and leaving the charred remains on his fiancee's doorstep. Young accused him of being delusional. Woods and his fiancee eventually filed a harassment suit that was settled out of court.
THE FALLOUT: Woods survived the embarrassment while continuing to be frustrated in his attempts to graduate from character actor to mainstream leading man, never mind his bewildering campaign to be seen as a nice guy. (Delusional? Even Sean Young is right twice a day.) But Young, who already had a reputation as a troublesome weirdo to go with her reputation as a godawful actress, was not so lucky. A year later, her attempt to storm Tim Burton's office in a homemade Catwoman costume — part of her master plan to get cast in Batman Returns— badly scared the creator of Edward Scissorhands and solidified her image as a walking freak show, a once-hot property who would soon be lucky to get hired for the sake of her punch-line value in Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.
9) THE STAR: Paul Reubens, actor and improvisational comedian, who achieved camp immortality in the person of his idiot man-child character Pee-wee Herman.
THE SCANDAL: In the summer of 1991, Reubens was arrested for masturbating in a porno theater in Sarasota, Florida. (He was reportedly in town visiting his parents.) A mug shot of Reubens looking like a serial killer was widely circulated, and the media did in fact go after him as if bodies had been found in his crawlspace. Much of the overreaction was probably due to a misunderstanding of the nature of the Pee-wee character and the diversity of his fan base. Reubens had created a surreal parody of a stunted pre-teen and, on his TV show, somehow found a way to function as a "real" kid's-show host without violating that character's essence. Not grasping any of this, much of the press behaved as if Captain Kangaroo had been caught running a white-slavery operation out of the back of Mr. Green Jeans' barn.
THE FALLOUT: In the wake of the scandal, CBS canceled its reruns of Pee-wee's Playhouse. (Contrary to fable, the show itself had already ceased production.) Reubens himself had already decided to put Pee-wee on the shelf, feeling that, after more than a decade, the character was running on fumes. Before retiring Pee-wee forever, Reubens slipped back into his skintight suit for the MTV Awards, where he greeted the crowd with the line, "Heard any good jokes lately?" and brought down the house. The media had badly misread the national mood on this one; some still wanted to string Reubens up, but most people just wanted to know if Sarasota cops had nothing better to do than hang out at showings of Nurse Nancy.
10) THE STAR: Charlie Sheen, actor
THE SCANDAL: In 1993, Heidi Fleiss was arrested for running a prostitution ring in Los Angeles. Intense media speculation suggested that the madam's "little black book" might be chock full of the names of movie stars and other celebrities. Ultimately, the one recognizable show business name outed was Charlie Sheen. Fleiss was finally sentenced to thirty-seven months in prison for tax evasion in 1997.
THE FALLOUT: When the story broke, Sheen had already slid a ways from his high-profile roles in Platoon and Wall Street. The years that Fleiss was in the news neatly overlapped with his transition to walking punch line. His self-parodying role in Being John Malkovich was the first sign that this might actually be a good look for him. He recently began his seventh year co-starring alongside fellow '80s relic Jon Cryer on the TV sitcom Two and a Half Men, and is currently the highest-paid actor on TV.