Tragic Celeb Moments In 2021 No One Will Forget

The following article includes references to suicide, child abuse, sexual assault allegations, cyberbullying, alcoholism, and death.

For many people, a favored celebrity is often someone to look up to and aspire to emulate. Of course, when things go wrong in a celebrity's life, that may change for some fans. Despite what you might think, celebrities are real people living their lives. Just like everyone else, they aren't immune to controversy and tragic moments. But when a celebrity experiences misfortune, it tends to blow up the headlines. 

Some tragic moments leave the public consciousness soon after they happen, while others become embedded in the zeitgeist. They're talked about often, taking over the narrative of any given celebrity's life. Sometimes, a tragic moment goes unnoticed when many celebrities die throughout the year. Still, there's always someone paying attention to what's going on.

Of course, not every tragedy revolves around death or some other horrific affair. A celebrity tragedy could revolve around a terrible controversy, a hurtful comment, or anything else that might see their career diminish. Granted, there are plenty of tragic moments spread throughout 2021 that celebs have been attached to, and they run the gamut in terms of severity. These tragic moments are some of the worst from 2021, and they're events the public will not soon forget.

Travis Scott's Astroworld disaster will impact the entertainment industry for a long time

On November 5, 2021, the two-day Astroworld music festival kicked off in what should have been a fun and memorable event. Unfortunately, that's not how things turned out after 50,000 people crammed into NRG Park in Houston to watch their favorite artists perform. While the venue's capacity was 200,000, attendance was limited by city officials.

Despite the smaller-than-possible crowd, the area in front of the stage offered no room for movement, which resulted in deadly consequences. While Travis Scott was performing on stage, a large number of fans surged forwards, resulting in even less space for movement. The mob of people pushed until movement was so restricted, some people couldn't breathe.

As people were being crushed, Scott continued to perform. Even after an ambulance showed up, he remained on stage for 30 minutes before ending his set. According to USA Today, 10 people were crushed and killed by the mob, and a lot of the blame for what happened was centered directly on Scott. The rapper has a history of encouraging crowds "to rush the stage," per The New York Times, and many found him culpable in the deaths that occurred during his Houston performance.

Scott has since refused to take responsibility for what happened at Astroworld, angering many — including his fans. According to Deadline, a subsequent petition calling for Scott's removal from 2022 Coachella was successful. While he won't appear, he will receive a "kill fee" for his removal, as indicated by his contract.

Alec Baldwin's fatal on-set shooting may keep firearms off movie sets forever

Alec Baldwin was rehearsing on the set of "Rust" in October when the gun he was using discharged. Unfortunately, it wasn't loaded with blanks as he was told. The bullet it fired injured the director and killed the film's cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins. As of this writing, the investigation is ongoing, but it seems that a series of bad decisions and reckless behavior resulted in the shooting.

Speaking to ABC News, Baldwin insisted he didn't pull the trigger, leaving many to wonder how the firearm discharged. The news of the shooting immediately drew comparisons to Brandon Lee's death while filming "The Crow" in 1993. In a similar incident, Lee was shot and killed by a firearm that should have been safe.

The New York Times reported that Baldwin was told he was using a "cold gun." That's a term used in the film industry to identify a firearm as safe and unloaded. That clearly wasn't the case, but it begs the question, why was there a live round anywhere near a movie set in the first place? That question needs to be answered, and while the tragic loss of Hutchins will be felt for a long time, her death may serve to produce change.

Because of the deaths of Hutchins and Lee, an ongoing movement picked up steam to remove firearms from movie and TV sets. CGI can be used in post-production to make guns appear real, and doing so would mitigate the risk of this happening again.

Sharon Osbourne's departure from The Talk won't soon be forgotten

Sharon Osbourne was the last original co-host to remain on "The Talk" when it kicked off its 11th season. Her time with the series came to an epic conclusion via the March 10 episode, which featured a cutthroat debate about Piers Morgan. In the episode, Osbourne defended Morgan, whose comments about Meghan Markle experiencing suicidal thoughts sparked immediate controversy.

According to Deadline, Morgan's remarks led to his termination from "Good Morning Britain," and they had a similar impact on "The Talk." Osbourne was steadfast in her defense of her former "America's Got Talent" co-host, which led to a particularly nasty argument with Sheryl Underwood. "The Talk" went on an immediate hiatus, but Osbourne didn't return with the rest of the cast when the show came back on April 12.

Osbourne didn't remain quiet about her exit from "The Talk." A source told Us Weekly that "Sharon is bitterly disappointed at how it all played out." The insinuation that her comments in support of Morgan's perceived racism made her come off as a bigot or racist became "a sickening scenario and an utter nightmare." Osbourne's departure from "The Talk" was a tragic moment for her fans, who'd watched her speak her mind for 11 seasons.

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Everything Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said about the royal family

One of the most significant celebrity news events of 2021 came when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sat down for a quiet chat with Oprah Winfrey for CBS. The royal couple has been the subject of a great deal of attention due to their choice to extricate themselves from the British royal family as active, working members. That news sparked widespread interest in the pair, and Oprah's interview shed new (and decidedly negative) light on the British monarchy.

The majority of the interview's negative comments centered around Markle and her issues with the family. She discussed her mental health and the struggle she's gone through as a member of the British royal family. She also mentioned that she had suicidal ideations during her pregnancy, which was exacerbated by a sense of abandonment. Both Harry and Meghan criticized the British monarchy as an institution and much more. One of the most impactful revelations revolved around the couple's children.

Harry spoke about an unidentified family member expressing concern over "how dark" the skin color of their then-unborn son, Archie, would be, per CBS News. Race was definitely an issue in their discussion, and this aspect of the interview is what landed Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne in so much hot water. Harry also sadly revealed that his relationships with his brother and father were somewhat strained. Almost everything the couple discussed shed light on how difficult living in the spotlight as a member of the British royal family was for both of them.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

It turns out Chrissy Teigen is a cyberbully

In May, Chrissy Teigen posted a detailed open apology on Medium, which she shared on her social media accounts. In the apology, Teigen discussed how her "old awful (awful, awful) tweets resurfaced." Like many celebrities who did or said something in the past that got them into trouble, Teigen's reveal led to widespread criticism of the model, and for a good reason — her past tweets were indefensible.

In her old tweets, she attacked then-teenager Courtney Stodden, who at 16 married 50-year-old actor Doug Hutchison. In the tweets and direct messages, Teigen expressed an interest in seeing Stodden die. Stodden told The Daily Beast, "She wouldn't just publicly tweet about wanting me to take 'a dirt nap' but would privately DM me and tell me to kill myself. Things like, 'I can't wait for you to die.'" Similarly, Farrah Abraham described Teigen's messages to her as a "'Mean Girls' movie spin-off." In Teigen's apology, she admitted to these comments and referred to herself as a "troll."

One of the worst aspects of the revelation that Teigen was a cyberbully revolves around how prolific she was. Since the apology came to light, more people have come out and shared their stories of Teigen's online habits. The extent of these revelations shows just how nasty Teigen was with people online, and it's not something many will forgive. Despite this, Stodden revealed that they previously forgave Teigen following a different apology. However, they said they hadn't been privately contacted by Teigen.

Ben Affleck blamed his ex-wife for his alcoholism

Ben Affleck is an alcoholic, and it's something he's been dealing with for years. The Academy Award-winning actor/writer/director has been the subject of numerous headlines regarding his alcoholism, though he previously didn't comment on his addiction with much detail. That changed when he appeared on "The Howard Stern Show" in December 2021.

Affleck discussed his alcoholism and recovery, but he pointed the finger at his ex-wife, Jennifer Garner, as the reason he drank. Affleck said (via People) that he'd "probably still be drinking" if he was still married to Garner. He doubled down on this by following up with, "It's part of why I started drinking because ... I was trapped."

Affleck elaborated by saying he felt like he had to stay married to Garner for their kids' sake, but he wasn't happy. "What I did was drink a bottle of scotch and fall asleep on the couch," he confessed. By blaming his ex-wife for his alcoholism, Affleck enraged his fans and many others. The whole thing blew up online, where he was called out for his comments.

Comments on Twitter pointed out how Garner supported him through multiple stints at rehab — she even drove him there in 2018, three years after their separation. Affleck's candid comments about his alcoholism and divorce will follow him for a long time, and he's put a stain on his reputation. Still, he's sober now, and he and Garner remain close as they care for their children and move on from one another.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The Chris Harrison racism controversy on The Bachelor led to his departure

Chris Harrison has been attached to "The Bachelor" franchise since 2002, and it looked as if he would continue hosting the series' various shows for years to come. That became an impossibility in February when Harrison sat down for an interview with Rachel Lindsay on "Extra." During the interview, Harrison was asked about "Bachelor" contestant Rachael Kirkconnell and some of the comments and pictures related to her.

At the time, Kirkconnell was in hot water for allegedly liking racially charged posts on Instagram. She was also getting a lot of flak for attending an antebellum-themed fraternity party in 2018. Kirkconnell hadn't apologized for her actions, and Harrison defended her. Most of his comments during the interview were evasive. Still, he took a stand in supporting Kirckconnell, mentioning that she hadn't spoken about the controversy. His comments about the picture of Kirkconnell at the party didn't go over well with some fans, and with that, Harrison's career was in jeopardy.

Sometimes, saying or doing something racist gets a celebrity canceled, and sometimes, supporting another star for those actions brings down a lot of heat. According to Us Weekly, the latter happened to Harrison, who posted an apology on Instagram soon after the interview. It was too little, too late for many fans, and before long, Harrison was kicked off the franchise he helped build for two decades. Deadline reported that Harrison was set to receive an "eight-figure payoff" as he left Bachelor Nation forever.

Armie Hammer's ex made some tragic claims

Cannibalism is probably one of the worst taboos anyone can get involved in, and allegations made against Armie Hammer in January 2021 suggested he crossed (or wants to cross) that particular line. Variety reported that an unnamed woman claimed that she'd exchanged several DMs with Hammer, including one saying that he was "100% a cannibal" and another allegedly telling her that he wanted to "drink [her] blood." When news of the messages broke, Hammer stepped down from his role in the movie "Shotgun Wedding," though none of the allegations have been proven. In a statement, he called the cannibalism claims "spurious online attacks."

That same month, one of the actor's ex-girlfriends, Courtney Vucekovich, spoke to Page Six. She accused Hammer of saying he wanted "to break [her] rib and barbecue and eat it." She made other tragic claims about their relationship, saying that she felt like she was "drowning in this dark hole" when she was with Hammer and that she went to therapy for PTSD after they broke up. "Therapy is really helpful after healing from any kind of abuse," Vucekovich stated. "You don't want to take that trauma with you."

Hammer didn't respond to Vucekovich's claims, but by March, he was vehemently denying allegations by another ex who had accused him of sexual assault, sparking an LAPD investigation, per Variety. In December — the same month he checked out of rehab for various issues – sources told TMZ it was unlikely Hammer would be charged. 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Jen Shah's arrest for fraud didn't help her reputation

"The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" runs on drama — all of the "Real Housewives" shows do, but that doesn't mean there isn't a limit. When a star is alleged to have done something illegal, odds are, the production isn't going to be happy. For Jen Shah, her reputation was destroyed when she was accused of actions with the potential to have tragic effects on her purported victims. 

In March 2021, Shah was indicted for taking part "in a long-running telemarketing scheme," per Us Weekly. The reality star was arrested alongside Stuart Smith, one of her assistants on RHOSLC. According to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, "the so-called business opportunities pushed on the victims by Shah, Smith, and their co-conspirators were just fraudulent schemes, motivated by greed, to steal victims' money."

The allegations made against Shah essentially paint her as a fraudster, bilking "vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people" of their money. According to reporting from the New York Post, Shah and Smith are two of six suspects implicated in the scheme designated by prosecutors to be at the highest tier of responsibility. Smith has pleaded guilty, leaving Shah to defend herself in court.

Criminal defense attorney Ronald Richards told ABC News Studios that "Stuart knows where the bodies are buried, and I think that if he testifies, that's gonna be a devastating witness for her." As of this writing, the trial has yet to commence, so Shah's fate as a cast member and as a free woman remains uncertain.

Everything that happened to Erika Jayne throughout 2021

Jen Shah isn't the only cast member from a "Real Housewives" series to experience problems in 2021. Over on the set of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," Erika Jayne found herself wrapped up in a legal nightmare and so much more. Jayne's challenging year was due in part to her divorce proceedings with her estranged husband, Tom Girardi, whom she left in November 2020.

Before the dust settled on the divorce, which still hasn't been finalized as of this writing, Girardi was accused of embezzling funds designated for plane-crash victims. The allegations detailed how Girardi (and Jayne) used those funds to live a lavish life. The stink of those allegations against Jayne's ex-husband stuck to the reality star, and it caused all sorts of drama on RHOBH.

During the penultimate episode of the 11th season, Jayne fought off calls to have her fired. In a discussion with host Andy Cohen, Jayne asked (via Just Jared), "Why are you presuming that I've done something? Why aren't we letting the legal process play out?" She went on to explain that people had only "heard one side" of the argument.

Jayne revealed that the show was her primary source of income, which The New York Times reported as being more than $600,000 for 2021. On an episode of RHOBH (via Page Six), Jayne claimed she was broke and would walk away with "nothing" from her divorce, but her co-star Kim Richards argued that the real tragic figures in the situation were Girardi's alleged victims.

Some creep(s) stole Lady Gaga's dogs and shot her dogwalker

As any dog owner will tell you, their little furry pets are like children. So these animal lovers likely felt the loss Lady Gaga had to deal with when two of her three beloved French bulldogs, Koji and Gustav, were stolen on February 24. Gaga was left reeling after the dogs were taken in an orchestrated robbery involving a gunman who shot Gaga's dog walker before making off with the pups. 

The whole thing sounds like a messed-up caper in an old noir serial, but according to Tara Bruno, the founder of SNORT Rescue, it's not uncommon. In an interview with People, Bruno explained that French Bulldogs "are among the most stolen dog breeds because they're very popular, are small and portable, and are expensive," costing as much as $10,000 for a single dog. Authorities believe Gaga wasn't targeted, per ABC News; rather, the dogs were for their high value.

According to TMZ, Gaga offered a $500,000 reward for anyone who brought back her babies. Fortunately, the dogs were eventually returned, and the dog walker has since recovered. Los Angeles police arrested and charged five people in connection with the robbery.

There are actually two tragedies related to this story. The dognapping was tragic for Gaga, but on top of that, the reduced media coverage of her dog walker, Ryan Fischer, and his shooting is tragic in and of itself. Yes, dogs were stolen, but a person was shot, which should have been the headline.

Ellen DeGeneres announced that her show was ending

In May 2021, Ellen DeGeneres announced that her eponymous talk show would come to an end in 2022 after 19 seasons. While DeGeneres often shows a great deal of loving fun and charisma on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," she was accused of making the set a hostile workplace, per BuzzFeed News.

Those allegations surfaced in 2020, but they didn't just die out, allowing DeGeneres to bow out gracefully. WarnerMedia launched an official investigation into complaints of toxic management and racist behavior on the set of the show. The allegations were utterly antithetical to the series' "Be Kind" mantra, with most of the blame being leveled against executive producers and senior management.

The negative attention eventually necessitated a response from DeGeneres herself, who sent a memo to her staff. According to Today, the memo outlined how she began the series as "a place of happiness," where her employees would be treated with respect. She acknowledged that "something changed," and for that, she apologized.

DeGeneres began working to turn the situation around, but ultimately, that didn't happen. There was seemingly no recovery for the series after the toxic workplace allegations hit, but DeGeneres insisted that they weren't the reason the show was ending. Instead, she told The Hollywood Reporter that her TV gig simply wasn't "a challenge anymore" after nearly two decades.  

Josh Duggar was found guilty of receiving and possessing child pornography

Josh Duggar was once a big deal on "19 Kids and Counting," a reality show that revolved around the Duggar family. Josh was the oldest child of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, so he played a significant role on the series. That role came to an end in 2015 when reports surfaced that Josh had molested several minors, including his own sisters, when he was a teenager. The news also resulted in the cancellation of "19 Kids and Counting," per ABC News

On April 29, 2021, Duggar was arrested on federal charges stating he received and possessed child sexual abuse material. When a celebrity is arrested, it's always big news, but in most cases, the charges aren't ... horrific. Ultimately, Duggar was found guilty. As of this writing, he has yet to be sentenced. According to AP, the father of seven faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and potential fines of as much as $250,000 per count.

Josh's trial was a tragic reminder of the trauma his past victims experienced. According to People, one witness, family friend Bobye Holt, took the stand to tell the court that Josh had confessed his actions to her and shared details about how he allegedly molested his victims. For the survivors of Duggar's abuse, his arrest will hopefully be a component in their healing. And for them and the minors victimized in child sexual abuse material, the focus should remain on them, their safety, and healing.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

2021 took Betty White from the world

2021 was a pretty crappy year for celebrities, and it wasn't great for the rest of the world either. The ongoing pandemic and political strife across the planet were exacerbated by deadly changes in the global climate, but the awful year almost came to a quiet close, offering hope for many. Then, on the last day of the year, 2021 gave humanity the middle finger by taking Betty White from the world. White's agent told People she "died peacefully in her sleep," offering the millions of mourners who loved her some modicum of comfort.

For many, White was a beloved actor and comedian who entertained them all their lives. She had been working since 1939, and in 2018, she was recognized for her enduring career with the Guinness World Record for working in television longer than anyone else (per Today). She was known for her unwavering kindness and fantastic sense of humor.

Because White was around for so long, memes about her longevity popped up for years. The fact that she was older than sliced bread (truly) and much more brought her to everyone's attention. The fact that she was set to celebrate her 100th birthday only a few weeks into 2022 made her death all the more heartbreaking.

For whatever reason, 2021 had to end with the death of a beloved icon. It was the icing on the cake of a pretty lousy year, and for that, 2021 cannot be forgiven.