Stars Who Hit Rock Bottom

Show business is not for the faint of heart or a weak emotional constitution. Sure, the adulation, money, and awards that come from what's essentially playing make-believe and dress-up for a living are nice, but being in the public eye can also be a never-ending judgment day. Perhaps resenting celebs for making that paper and being attractive, the outside world constantly scrutinizes every aspect of a performer's life, criticizing their fashion choices, relationships, and performances. That can take its toll on the brain, as can the powerful need to stay relevant, wealthy, or just employed.

A lot of stars, quite understandably, crack under the pressure. While personal issues unrelated to and predating celebrity might ramp up under the weight of the spotlight, dealing with fame and its effects can also lead to new problems. Unfortunately, several performers end up struggling with drug addiction, mental illness, and other issues ... leading many of them to end up on the brink of oblivion. Here are some stars who experienced the highest highs of fame, as well as the lowest of lows.

Brett Butler found herself under fire on and off set

Many stand-up comedians got their own sitcom in the '90s, including Brett Butler, who starred as single mom Grace Kelly on Grace Under Fire. Initially a massive hit, the show unfortunately disintegrated within five years due to Butler's alleged backstage behavior. For example, Entertainment Weekly reports that she once "flashed" co-star and child actor Jon Paul Steuer, who played Butler's TV son until Steuer's parents pulled him off the show in 1997. That same year, Butler entered rehab multiple times, with a stint temporarily shutting down production that August. 

However, an alleged on-set tantrum the following year was apparently the last straw, and ABC abruptly ended the series. That threw Butler for a loop. "All in one day, like a bad country song, my husband left me, I got fired, and he even gave my dog to my sister," she told TV Guide in 2011. Suddenly out of a job and persona non grata in Hollywood, Butler fled La La Land for a farm in rural Georgia, but she soon ran out of cash and lived, briefly, in a homeless shelter. Thus began the long crawl back up. According to The New York Times, Butler finally kicked the substances abuse and eventually found work in smaller roles on My Name is EarlThe Young and the Restless, The Leftovers, and more.

Did Hollywood drop this Happy Days star?

Erin Moran helped make Happy Days a beloved TV classic. After portraying Joanie Cunningham, the spunky kid sister of Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) on the 1974-84 sitcom, her character even got a spin-off series: the 1982-83 dud Joanie Loves Chachi. But after Joanie time ended, Moran found her career at a standstill. While she scored some TV guest star and B-movie work, she never again landed a major role.

In 2010, Moran's house entered foreclosure, and she and second husband Steve Fleischman were formally evicted by police, according to TMZ. They moved in with his mother in her Indiana trailer home, but by 2012, that arrangement had soured. According to a source cited by the National Enquirer, Moran's mother-in-law tired of the actress' alleged "nonstop partying" and kicked her out (via Fox News). She reportedly wound up living in a series of Indiana motels, where she apparently joined a party in the parking lot one day. "She was definitely a little kooky and acted weird, saying odd things, and even offered to give me a back rub!" a witness claimed to Radar Online

In April 2017, Indiana police responded to a 911 call about an "unresponsive female" and sadly discovered Moran deceased. An autopsy later revealed that Moran likely died from complications of cancer. She was 56.

Jenni Lee was spotted in an unexpected place

The name Stephanie Sadorra may not be familiar, but that particular actress became a huge star in a very specific sector of the entertainment world in the 2000s. Under the pseudonym Jenni Lee, she appeared in dozens of adult film titles and earned a large following before pivoting into the pursuit of modeling gigs (that didn't require her to engage in carnal acts on camera).

She eventually faded into semi-obscurity, only to be accidentally discovered by a Dutch television documentary crew in July 2019. The Daily Mail reports that filmmakers were exploring the massive but little-known network of dark, cramped tunnels that lay below Las Vegas. Lots of people on the fringe of society live and work in the cavernous tubes intended to bolster Sin City against flash floods, including, it would seem, former adult entertainer Stephanie Sadorra. 

Camping out in a tiny, torch-lit space, Sadorra admitted that she used to be "a little too successful" of an adult film star. "I actually got very famous," she said. "I used to be so hot." But don't feel sorry for her — she's happy where she is. "It's not as difficult as you might think, everybody's really respectful," Sadorra said. "Everybody's good to each other, which I don't think you find much."

Motley Crüe's Nikki Sixx hit the rockiest of rock bottoms

Motley Crüe is arguably one of the most debauched rock bands in history — which is really saying something, especially for a group that emerged from the hard-partying Sunset Strip hair metal scene of the 1980s. The band's collective memoir, The Dirt, is just one absurd tale after another of booze, drugs, and parties ... and how things got out of control. While singer Vince Neil went on a booze run one night while already allegedly drunk and got in a car accident that killed his passenger, Razzle of the band Hanoi Rocks, bassist Nikki Sixx turned his destructive tendencies inward and got into heroin.

On December 23, 1987, Sixx hit the rockiest of rock bottoms possible: He literally died. While partying with Slash and Steven Adler from Guns n' Roses and Robbin Crosby of Ratt, Sixx injected himself with a little too much of the world's most notorious opiate, according to Ultimate Classic Rock. It stopped his heart and the music star turned blue. After mouth-to-mouth resuscitation didn't work, paramedics gave Sixx a shot of adrenaline, which luckily kickstarted his heart. Loudwire reports that this event inspired the Motley Crüe song "Kickstart My Heart."

Jodie Sweetin's downward spiral

From 1987 to 1995, Jodie Sweetin was television's quintessential adorable sitcom kid, playing catchphrase-prone ("How rude!") middle child Stephanie Tanner on Full House. The downward spiral began about a year later at the wedding of her Full House sister, Candace Cameron. "I probably had two bottles of wine, and I was only 14. That first drink gave me the self-confidence I had been searching for my whole life," Sweetin recalled in her 2009 memoir, unSweetined (via Redbook). "But that set the pattern of the kind of drinking that I would do."

Sweetin didn't only drink, she used harder drugs, too. In another moment of substance abuse transposed with a happy event for a Full House co-star, the actress revealed she snorted meth in a bathroom at the 2004 premiere of the Olsen Twins movie New York Minute. Another personal low for Sweetin? Getting drunk and getting behind the wheel with her baby in the car. In 2011, Sweetin thankfully got sober, and in 2016 made it back into Hollywood via Fuller House, the popular reboot of Full House.

Britney Spears survived her 2007 breakdown

Between her two career highs — queen of pop in the late '90s, and queen of the Las Vegas residencies in the 2010s — Britney Spears unfortunately suffered some high-profile personal lows. Shortly after giving birth to her second son, Jayden, in September 2006, the songstress filed for divorce from dancer/rapper Kevin Federline ... and spiraled into her head-shaving breakdown of 2007.

Just before Spears decided to grab some clippers at a Tarzana hair salon and shave off her long, blonde hair that February, she spent about a day at Eric Clapton's Crossroads drug rehab center in Antigua, upon which she returned to California. When photographers later followed her on a visit to Federline's home, Spears smashed up a paparazzo's vehicle with an umbrella. Shortly after, she checked into (then checked out of, then returned to) Promises Malibu, another rehab facility. 

However, Spears wasn't in the clear quite yet — after her divorce lawyer and management company parted ways with the singer, Federline sued for (and temporarily received) full custody of their children in October 2007. By the following January, Spears was hospitalized for a mental health evaluation. One more major indignity? Days after her release, a court gave her father temporary conservatorship of her estate. Spears thankfully seems to be doing much better these days, telling People in 2015: "I'm the happiest I've ever been. My priorities are straight: making family No. 1 and being consistent with that and having God in my life."

Natasha Lyonne barely avoided time in prison

In the late '90s, Natasha Lyonne established herself as one of the most intriguing young actresses around with her work in Slums of Beverly Hills, American Pie, and But I'm a Cheerleader. However, she also suffered thorough a variety of personal issues. Wired reports that she ran her car off the road and was charged with an alleged DUI in 2001. She received probation. However, a New York judge issued a warrant for her arrest four years later, when she missed a court date stemming from an alleged incident in which she angrily busted into her neighbor's apartment, tore a mirror off the wall, and threatened to harm their dog. 

Lyonne didn't surface for four months — and when she did, it was under a fake name in a NYC hospital's intensive care unit. According to a source cited by the New York Post, the actress had endured a bout of homelessness and was being treated for a collapsed lung, a heart infection, hepatitis C, and drug addiction. Lyonne luckily pulled through and entered rehab. While she avoided prison time, the Orange is the New Black star still had to undergo open-heart surgery as a result of that infection. 

Today, Lyonne is thankfully back on track. She's poured her experiences into Russian Doll, the mind-bending Netflix series, for which she co-created, stars, and earned two Emmy nominations for outstanding comedy series and outstanding lead actress in a comedy series.

Richard Pryor hit rock bottom at the height of his fame

Abandoned by his mother, a prostitute, Richard Pryor was largely raised by his grandmother and lived in the brothel she ran. After a stint in the army — for which he spent mostly in the brig for stabbing a white soldier over allegedly racist behavior — he became a nightclub comic in New York, performing mild but funny anecdotal routines (via The New Yorker). In 1967, he had an epiphany and, embracing the countercultural uprising of the time, began doing extremely edgy, provocative, and often profane work that explored American race relations. Pryor went on to become a preeminent and bestselling comedian in the '70s and parlayed that into a film career, which included co-writing Blazing Saddles

According to People, Pryor also got really into cocaine, and while freebasing (dissolving, vaporizing, and inhaling) the drug in 1980, the comedian poured high-proof rum all over his body, lit himself on fire, and ran down a Los Angeles street. Pryor spent weeks in a hospital recovering from the second- and third-degree burns that covered more than half of his body. But before long, Pryor was back on his feet. In 1982, he recorded the seminal Live on the Sunset Strip, and signed a $40 million contract with Columbia Pictures a year later, where he made broad comedies like Brewster's Millions and Moving. Pryor sadly died at the age of 65 in 2005 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. 

This Superman star's struggle with mental illness

At the tail end of the 1970s, Margot Kidder landed roles in two iconic movies: Lois Lane in Superman (which she reprised in three sequels) and Kathy Lutz in The Amityville Horror. However, the actress later had a hard time breaking into other major projects. Kidder also struggled with bipolar disorder, and while having a famous face associated with it helped the masses to become familiar with and understand the disease, it unfortunately threw her life into disarray. 

During a highly-publicized manic episode in 1996, Kidder went missing for three days, eventually turning up in the bushes behind a suburban Los Angeles home. While she told authorities that she'd been attacked and was hiding from her assailant, police explained to the Independent that they found no evidence that such a crime had taken place, but noted that Kidder appeared dirty, out of sorts, and like she'd cut off her hair with a razor blade. The actress was hospitalized, recovered, became a mental health advocate, and later told People, "The reality of my life has been grand and wonderful, punctuated by these odd blips and burps of madness." 

While some small TV roles and stage work followed, Kidder again made headlines in 2011 when she was arrested at the White House for protesting a proposed Texas oil pipeline, and won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2015 for her role on The Haunting Hour. Kidder sadly died in 2018 at the age of 69.

Did Star Wars ruin Jake Lloyd's life?

Probably no movie bore as many impossibly high expectations as Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. As the first Star Wars film in nearly two decades, this George Lucas release was the movie event of 1999 ... but disappointed superfans took out their frustrations with the prequel flick on Jake Lloyd. The young actor played Anakin Skywalker, the child fated to grow up to be Darth Vader. While starring in one of the biggest movies of all time could and should be the first step on the journey to a charmed life, Lloyd thinks The Phantom Menace ruined his life. He only appeared in one more movie before giving up acting, and later told Australia's The Daily Telegraph in 2012 that his Star Wars experience was a "living hell." Lloyd added, "Other children were really mean to me. They would make the sound of the light saber every time they saw me." 

Lloyd also had a hard time adjusting to civilian life. Entertainment Weekly reports that the former child star led South Carolina police on a high-speed chase in 2015, which ended when he crashed into a grove of trees. After being charged with failing to stop, resisting arrest, reckless driving, and driving without a license, Lloyd ultimately served 10 months in jail, at which point he was transferred to a psychiatric facility for treatment of schizophrenia.

Robert Downey Jr. went from rock bottom to Iron Man

After scoring prominent roles in Weird Science and Less Than Zero, Robert Downey Jr. earned an Oscar nomination for portraying Charlie Chaplin in 1992's Chaplin. However, the actor's rise to superstardom was derailed when drugs took over his life. In 1996, Downey was arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly driving under the influence, as well as possession of cocaine, heroin, and an unloaded gun. While out on parole, he reportedly got so high one night that he wandered into a neighbor's house and fell asleep. That all led to three years of probation with court-ordered drug testing. 

However, after he missed one of those tests, a judge sentenced Downey to six months in the Los Angeles County Jail, before he was arrested again in 1999 after missing another test. During a subsequent hearing, Downey poignantly described his addiction: "It's like I have a shotgun in my mouth, and I've got my finger on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gun metal" (via BBC News). The star did a year in the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison. Upon his release, he landed a role on Ally McBeal, but was essentially fired by producers following another drug possession arrest in 2000. 

This fan-favorite Avengers star has thankfully been sober since 2003, after which he revamped his film career in one of Hollywood's greatest comeback stories yet.