Some Hollywood celebrities have lived the reality of stardom, beyond the glam, paparazzi and million-dollar paychecks. After their fifteen minutes of fame, many famous faces — who were once household names — wind up on the ever-growing list of bankrupt celebrities.
A few broke celebrities, however, refuse to go down without a fight — the following desperate celebs will do anything to get out of debt, including writing books to bring in new income.
#1. If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer
After coverage of a double-murder trial, dubbed by media as “The Trial of the Century,” O.J. Simpson found himself slapped with a $33.5 million civil fine to be awarded to the Goldman family.
With money in short supply, Simpson decided that laying low was not part of his plan. In 2006, he announced his plans of a book release titled, If I Did It, which details how he would have murdered his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman, if he had in fact been the killer. To help promote the release, talks were even being conducted with a major TV network, but the special feature was canceled shortly afterward.
A judge ordered that rights to the book be handed over to the Goldman family (who had yet to see much of the $33.5 million owed). The family then released the book, with commentary and the new title, If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer – with the word “if” in small font.
A year later, O.J. Simpson was arrested for a barrage of felonies, including assault with a deadly weapon and kidnapping in Las Vegas; he was then sentenced 33 years in prison. (Photo:Wikipedia)
#2. How to Be Famous: Our Guide to Looking the Part, Playing the Press, and Becoming a Tabloid Fixture
Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt had their moment in the limelight on the reality series, The Hills. At the height of show, Heidi and Spencer were rolling in riches with an estimated $3 million in income and endorsements from the first two seasons. In the last season, Heidi Montag drew in $100,000 per episode and Spencer Pratt earned a sizable $65,000 per episode.
Even with the influx of cash and paparazzi adoration, this power couple — who once charged tabloids $3,000 per photo of them together — found themselves more hungry for the Hollywood glamour. Their millions were wasted away on a lavish Malibu lifestyle, filled with mansions, plastic surgery and Heidi’s $2 million failed recording career, during which she sold less than 1,000 copies of her album in its first week. Unfortunately, Heidi’s savings account never saw a piece of those earnings.
In an effort to ride the publicity wave, Heidi and Spencer released the book How to Be Famous: Our Guide to Looking the Part, Playing the Press, and Becoming a Tabloid Fixture. The attempt to make another few million fell short with a 1.5-star rating and reader feedback such as, “Finally, Something Worse than Cancer.” (Photo: Examiner)
#3. Finding Sarah: A Duchess’s Journey to Find Herself
The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, could not regain her financial footing after her divorce from Prince Andrew and the royal family. Despite being cut off from her regal status, the Sarah still indulged in designer goods and clothing and was estimated to owe as much as 5 million British pounds — that’s a debt of about $7.8 million — in 2010.
While she’s presumed to have dropped the debt to just about 100,000 pounds, speculation about her shopping habits and excessive lifestyle still mount. Her latest book, published in 2011, is Sarah Ferguson’s latest attempt at bringing in a paycheck. The release of Finding Sarah: A Duchess’s Journey to Find Herself is joined by a six-episode series about her fall from grace, with self-help and financial guidance from Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Phil and Suze Orman. (Photo: goodreads)
#4. Behind the Bell
Saved by the Bell was a hit TV series in the 1990s, and paved the way for the success of actors Mark-Paul Gosselaar and TV and radio personality, Mario Lopez. Dustin Diamond, however, was left behind along with his claim to fame playing Screech Powers.
After the series and its spin-offs finally ended, Dustin Diamond found himself creeping into a pit of debt with looming threats of foreclosure and ultimately, bankruptcy. He signed up for D-list reality shows like Celebrity Boxing 2 and Celebrity Fit Club (where he made about $120 per episode, according to IMDb). In addition to trying to sell 30,000 t-shirts and creating an adult film to avoid losing his home, Dustin Diamond wrote a tell-all book titled, Behind the Bell.
Throwing a number of Saved by the Bell cast members under the bus, the book included alleged scandals witnessed by Diamond, including claims of rape and drug use. The book didn’t propell Dustin Diamond to “bestseller,” and he manages to maintain a stand-up comedy routine to survive. (Photo: Natecornett)
Photo: Sons of Bill Simmons