Celeb Memoirs That Shook Us To The Core

Memoirs — you know, people's lifetime memories put onto the blank page — tend to carry huge revelations for readers. Memoirs by celebrities are fascinating, in part for the brief glimpse into the fame machine and all its glory, suffering, and activities unknown to most everyone else. It also shows the amazingly diverse background of people who all took unique paths into the spotlight — sometimes paths we never would have imagined.

Most celebs don't hold back on their experiences, no matter how tough it must be to recall. You may know a few of these stories but some may completely shock you — whether through stories of abuse, past relationships, rock bottoms, or worse. These personal accounts have a way of giving the reader inspiration, hope, or even cautionary tales.

Enjoy this collection of truly incredible moments from Hollywood and beyond that completely surprised us. Here are celeb memoirs that shook us to the core.

Mario Lopez's memoir talks about his many ladies

In his 2014 memoir Just Between Us, Mario Lopez — super host and forever A.C. Slater — shared a surprising past. In the book, the longtime host of Extra talks about being previously addicted to sex, his "drug of choice." What's really shocking is that, according to the book (and what he told People), he first had sex when he was only 12 years old. He also revealed that he got a girl pregnant and "almost became a father in his teens."

One amazing highlight from the book was about his "preteen romance" with Stacy Ferguson — Fergie as we know and love her. Lopez had previously told People that Ferguson was his very first kiss. The two met as castmates on the TV show Kids Incorporated and a young Lopez — age 10 — was quite the romantic, having bought her perfume.

Lopez also described his marriage to former Miss USA Ali Landry, which lasted all of two weeks. He admits that at his bachelor party, he got drunk and flirty with a younger woman. When Landry saw photos of the tryst, she confronted Lopez, and the pair quickly separated. Lopez ended up marrying Courtney Mazza in 2012 after the two met on the Broadway production of A Chorus Line, as detailed by The New York Times.

Drew Barrymore's memoir gives us a look at her wild childhood

Back in 1990, Drew Barrymore released her memoir Little Girl Lost, which is still considered scandalous today. She was astonishingly just 14 years old when the book was published. In the memoir, Barrymore admits to using hard drugs, alcohol, and attending wild parties as a child star, The New York Times summarized. In her words, "I had my first drink at age nine, began smoking marijuana at 10, and at 12 took up cocaine." Barrymore's memoir told almost unbelievable stories like passing out at clubs from alcohol to partying with Rod Stewart's bandmates.

Barrymore decided to write the book in part to tell her side of the story when the news broke that as a 13-year-old, she entered into a clinic for her addiction to cocaine and alcohol. As she bluntly put it, "I loved cocaine. Period." She also described how her grandfather and father both had issues with alcoholism. That first drink she had at age 9? It was at the 20th birthday party of Brat Pack heartthrob Rob Lowe.

Over 25 years later, Barrymore released a follow-up memoir called Wildflower. The Guardian reviewed the book and felt that it missed the mark in connecting her past of debauchery to her life as an adult and mother.

Amy Schumer got serious in her memoir

The comedian and actress Amy Schumer was reportedly paid $9 million in advance to write her memoir The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, Vogue reported. This was in 2016 — directly following her rapid rise to fame after she won an Emmy for her TV show Inside Amy Schumer. The year before, Schumer released her movie Trainwreck that she wrote and starred in. 

In the book, Schumer describes ways her mother had manipulated her in the past, and says her mom was also unfaithful in marriage, causing their family to breakup, as recapped by Harper's Bazaar.

Schumer also admits in her book that she sold marijuana on a small scale as an adolescent. Her other illegal activity during that time was shoplifting. She remembered stealing fashion and luxury items from Bloomingdale's until she was busted as a 14-year-old.

In the memoir, Schumer also vividly describes her abusive ex-boyfriend, telling a story about how she tried to run away from him after he threatened her with a knife. Schumer said, "I was sure he was going to kill me." The reason for telling the story, she explained, is because these abusive situations "can happen to anyone" and her hope is that anyone in a bad situation can also find a way out.

Trevor Noah's memoir shared his experience growing up

Trevor Noah has one of the more unique stories in Hollywood. In his 2016 memoir, Born a Crime, Noah focused on his unique upbringing in a mixed ethnicity household in South Africa during apartheid — when a union by a black man and a white woman was punishable by prison. This was all long before he took over for Jon Stewart, one of the most the most famous news show hosts ever for The Daily Show.

The stories he tells are striking, as reviewed by The New York Times. For example, he had to walk on the opposite side of the street of his father, who was white — and says the only place he could spend time with his dad was inside of their home. Since Noah is light-skinned, his black mother had to pretend Noah wasn't her child if police were around. His mixed race also made Noah stand out in his childhood township.

Over two years later, Noah released a different version of his memoir. According to The New York Times, Noah made a young readers' edition after hearing from families who read his original version to their children. In the new edition, he removed much of adult content but purposefully decided to leave in the difficult conversations and history of racial issues in South Africa.

Keith Richards memoir details the rock 'n' roll lifestyle

One could probably guess before reading that a story of a rock star is full of absurdities. Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones' guitarist wrote his 2010 memoir Life and recounted unbelievable and totally epic stories as a member of one of the most famous rock bands of all-time. The New York Times reviewed the book and shared some amazing quotes. As an example, Richards said, "For many years I slept, on average, twice a week. This means that I have been conscious for at least three lifetimes." 

GQ UK awarded Richards as their "GQ Writer of the Year," in part for the incredible logistics behind his memoir. The article explained that Richards and co-writer James Fox thanked 140 people in the book, most of which were needed to "fill in the hulking great gaps in Keith's memory." Not surprising given his history of drug use.

In a 2019 feature, The New York Times called Life one of "The 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years." The feature praised the memoir for Richards' honest takes on sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll history. That and all his thoughts on bandmate and lead singer Mick Jagger. With apparently endless energy, Richards and The Rolling Stones were still touring together in 2019, according to Rolling Stone magazine.

Rose McGowan further detailed her Hollywood nightmare in her memoir

In 2019, actress Rose McGowan published her memoir Brave. The book largely focused on her experience in Hollywood, particularly as a woman, The New York Times reviewed. McGowan discussed the allegations surrounding her life as rape victim in the destructive wake of a "studio head." She talked about how after the encounter, the former head executive tried to pay her off with $100,000. McGowan claims her abuser even sent people — that is, Israeli intelligence agents — to follow her to try and keep the story from getting out. 

McGowan also explains in the book how her controversial 1998 MTV VMA "naked dress" was completely misunderstood. As the Washington Post recapped, the award show was soon after her horrifying incident. Wearing the dress, in her words, was "a reclamation of my own body after my assault." Other revelations from the book include her admitting she tried acid for the first time as a 13 year old. Citing a bad home life, a teenage McGowan ran away from home and for a year, lived on the streets.

It's a stark but important story that McGowan shared, revealing that life in Hollywood can be a cruel place full of characters with bad intentions.

Leah Remini's memoir shared the secrets of Scientology

Leah Remini enlightened the public about the Church of Scientology in her 2015 memoir Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. In the book she talked about startling features of the church and her decision to leave. People magazine reported that Remini joined the church at the age of 9 and was and remained a member for 35 years until she and her parents left in 2013.

The book talks about the alleged costs and "financial destruction" needed to rise in rank within the church, Glamour recapped. Also included in the memoir is the story of Remini filing a missing persons report for her friend Shelly Miscavige, wife of David Miscavige, leader of the Church of Scientology. Remini's claim was dismissed but also, Shelly hasn't been seen in public since 2007, according to Vanity Fair

Soon after the release of her book, Remini developed a TV series called Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. As Realscreen explained, she helped develop the series in part because former Scientology members told her their personal stories in the church after reading the memoir.

Jonathan Van Ness was terrified to tell his story, but he did it in his memoir

Jonathan Van Ness — one of the stars in Netflix's reboot of Queer Eye — stunned the world with the release of his 2019 memoir, Over the Top. As he told The New York Times in an interview, "I've had nightmares every night for the past three months because I'm scared to be this vulnerable with people" in reference to his revealing book.

The vulnerabilities he discussed began with his time at the University of Arizona, where he would post personal ads to Gay.com offering sex for money. He flunked out of school before his first year even ended and eventually moved to Los Angeles and started working at a salon. In those days, Van Ness says he became addicted to smoking methamphetamine.

Van Ness recalls when he was 25 years old, he passed out one day while working at the hair salon. The following day, he went to Planned Parenthood and tested positive for H.I.V. In his words, "That day was just as devastating as you would think it would be." As scary as it must have been to reveal this secret to the world in his memoir, Van Ness proudly proclaims to be a "member of the beautiful H.I.V.-positive community."

Much respect to Van Ness to share such intimate details of his life — especially as the Queer Eye fan favorite according to Vulture — and seemingly in the peak of his career thus far.

Carrie Fisher's memoirs literally had shocking stories

In 2006, Carrie Fisher created a one-woman stage show called Wishful Drinking that premiered in Los Angeles. She then adapted the play into her first memoir of the same name. As The Telegraph reviewed, Fisher detailed her life growing up as the "product of Hollywood in-breeding," which referenced her two famous parents — Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. She disclosed her diagnosed manic depression and drug use since age 13. As an adult, Fisher went to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to help combat her severe depression and as a result, incurred memory loss.

Soon after the book release, Fisher opened the show on Broadway in 2009. Wishful Drinking was wildly popular in New York City and got an even bigger audience when HBO aired a special documentary of the performance. 

Next was Shockaholic, the 2011 follow up memoir referencing her ECT experience. According to the Los Angeles Times, it's filled with stories like Fisher becoming closer with her famous father towards the end of his life, and becoming friends with Elizabeth Taylor — the woman for whom her father had left her mother.

Then finally, Fisher wrote The Princess Diarist in 2016 for which she won a posthumous Grammy for Best Spoken Word album. As The Verge explained, her final book revealed that Fisher and Harrison Ford had an affair while filming the original Star Wars movies — when she was 19, and he was a 33-year-old married father of two.

Margaret Cho's downward spiral was documented in her memoir

In 2001, actress and standup comedian Margaret Cho released a multi-format memoir entitled I'm the One That I Want. Similar to Carrie Fisher, Cho created and starred in a one-woman stage show and also wrote the accompanying book, explains the Los Angeles Times

In her memoir, Cho talks a lot about her TV show All-American Girl, which only lasted one season. During the series, executives from the show told Cho her face was "too full" and pressured her into losing weight. She ended up losing the weight but did it so quickly that she ended up in the hospital. As a result of the failed sitcom, Cho became depressed and started using various vices to try and cope.

The Guardian summarized the DVD version of her memoir with deeper details of Cho's post TV spiral. She talked about her additions to alcohol, sex, and drugs on top of suicidal thoughts. Cho also described her bi-sexual tendencies and her experiences as a Korean American woman. Ultimately, the memoir was a comeback story for Cho, who used the platform to revitalize herself and her career.

Brooke Shields' memoir talks about her complicated family

Soon after Brooke Shields' mother and fellow actress Teri Shields passed away, Brooke released her memoir There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me. USA Today described the 2014 book, in which Brooke talked about being raised by her single mother, who later became her manager. At age 13, Brooke was worried about her mother's alcohol use and had an intervention with Teri.

Regarding past relationships, Brooke revealed that she lost her virginity at age 22 to actor Dean Cain, known for playing the male lead in the TV series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. She got married to tennis legend Andre Agassi in the 1990s and soon dropped Teri as her manager. The marriage only lasted two years, but Brooke revealed that Agassi admitted to her his previous addiction to crystal meth.

Brooke said she wrote the book to tell the story of her and Teri "from my perspective." The mother-daughter dynamic had its ups and downs as the actress told Marie Claire. Brooke recalled seeing's Teri's deep love for her and on the opposite side, Brooke spent her "whole life taking care of my mother."

Tina Turner's memoir talks about her terrible ex-husband

Tina Turner's 1986 autobiography I, Tina tells the story of her former marriage to fellow musician Ike Turner. In 2018, Tina published her second memoir Love Story, in which she further detailed the physical abuse she suffered in her marriage to Ike. The Cut summarized the second book and all of its frightening details.

In one of the more difficult quotes to read, Tina said of Ike, "He used my nose as a punching bag so many times that I could taste blood running down my throat when I sang." Tina painfully described how she felt trapped in the marriage and thought she could only escape by dying. She recalled a time where he threw hot coffee in her face, leaving her with severe burns. As she claims about another abusive episode, "He broke my jaw. And I couldn't remember what it was like not to have a black eye."

Tina wrote the book partly as a message of hope to others in abusive relationships. She encouraged people to leave and in doing so, the victims can "rise from the ashes" and reclaim their lives.

Jodie Sweetin's memoir proves she was not that innocent

Jodie Sweetin is well-known for her teenage role as Stephanie Tanner on the original Full House. In 2009, the actress talked about her dark past in her memoir unSweetined. As summarized by Entertainment Weekly, in the book Sweetin shared stories of how she began drinking and smoking at an early age. Once she started at college, Sweetin said she moved on to ecstasy and cocaine. Going further, Sweetin admits that she was addicted to meth by the time she was 20 years old. She recalls attending the premiere for New York Minute to support her former co-stars Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen in 2004. In one of her low moments, Sweetin revealed she brought her drug paraphernalia and snorted meth at the event.

As Sweetin told Today, she was able to turn her life around and became sober. She also gave birth to two daughters. 11 years after Full House ended, which may have helped launch Sweetin into her destructive behaviors, she got a chance at redemption on the Netflix reboot, Fuller House. Her comeback story can eerily be summarized by a song lyric. To quote the theme song from the original Full House series, "When you're lost out there and you're all alone /  A light is waiting to carry you home."