Tragic Details About These Masked Singer Contestants

This article contains mentions of addiction, suicide, mental health, and bullying.

"The Masked Singer" is a massive hit for Fox, establishing itself as a ratings juggernaut the moment it debuted in 2019. The show sees celebs dress up in kooky costumes and perform for a panel of judges, who then try to guess who's under the mask. Thanks to the anonymity the outlandish costumes provide, the series has a fun mix of stars that run the gamut of fame level; that singer dressed as a one-eyed monster could be anyone from Lil Wayne or Kermit the Frog to Honey Boo Boo or Michelle Williams — the former Child of Destiny, that is, not the actor. (And we promise you, "Masked Singer" panel, no matter how many times you toss out her name, it's probably not ever gonna be Beyoncé under there.)

Though the show exists as a sort of free-for-all utopia where stars can let themselves cast aside any preconceived notions viewers may have about their careers and just have fun, it's worth keeping in mind that the contestants on "The Masked Singer" have full, complete, complicated lives off-stage. Here are some tragic details about the lives of "Masked Singer" contestants.

A convo with Usher had a negative impact on T-Pain

Rapper T-Pain won the first season of "The Masked Singer" dressed as Monster, showing that the AutoTune pioneer actually has some incredible vocal chops. "Just to hear all the compliments and to hear everybody praising so much, it was pretty cool to hear that," Mr. Pain told ET shortly after his coronation. Then, when the interviewer got emotional, he added, "Don't cry, because once you get going, you are going to get me going!"

Being able to prove his talent on a stage like that was important to him, because the rapper later revealed he had depression for years thanks to the reaction to his electronically manipulated music from his industry peers. Per Entertainment Tonight, on Netflix's "This Is Pop," he recounted a conversation with R&B superstar Usher, who apparently told the rapper that he had "f***ed up" the music industry with his songs. "That's the very moment that started, like, a four-year depression for me," T-Pain admitted. This was not the first time T-Pain had opened up about his mental health, detailing his state of mind in a 2014 interview with The New Yorker. "When people say I suck and I should kill myself, I don't really feel good about that," he confessed. 

After T-Pain's admission made headlines, Usher insisted to Billboard that the two were all good. But T-Pain told Insider that they hadn't spoken, and that he'd had to come to terms with it on his own. "I just moved on," he said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Jesse McCartney's bandmate died of COVID-19

On Season 3 of "The Masked Singer," viewers got to know the Turtle's "Beautiful Soul" when the big green costume was unmasked as former teen idol Jesse McCartney. The judges actually guessed his identity correctly, and he told Entertainment Weekly, that freaked him out. "It took me by surprise, and my initial reaction was, 'Oh s***, they got it,' he said. He recalled feeling awkward about his body language so that he didn't accidentally confirm that they were right. "So I think I went into like a surfboard thing or like a surf's up thing. I just kind of just tried to play it as cool as I could," he said.

Unfortunately, mere weeks after his unmasking aired, McCartney experienced a tragedy: fellow Dream Street alum Chris Trousdale died from COVID-19 complications, according to TMZ. McCartney and Trousdale were two-fifths of the band, which had hits like "It Happens Every Time" on Radio Disney.

McCartney shared a tribute to his former bandmate on Instagram, writing, "Chris had an explosively charming personality with boundless amounts of talent." He recalled, "We were young kids with budding talent who shared an overwhelming love for music and performing. Chris, in my opinion, was the most popular among us, who had a way of drawing every eye to what he was doing on stage." Shortly thereafter, the surviving members of Dream Street performed "It Happens Every Time" in memory of their lost friend.

Sarah Palin's marriage ended

March 11, 2020, was an odd day for many reasons: Tom Hanks announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19, then-President Donald Trump addressed the nation about the global pandemic barreling toward the country, and the NBA shut down. If you ran out to stock up on toilet paper when all of that news broke simultaneously, you may have missed that at the very same time, Sarah Palin was unmasked on "The Masked Singer" after performing Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back." We'll let you rank those by most-unsettling.

The former VP candidate has made headlines for many political reasons, but her personal life hasn't escaped scrutiny either. Her family was the subject of a reality show called "Sarah Palin's Alaska," and it seems that all was not well behind the scenes; she and her husband Todd Palin called it quits in 2020. People reported on the initial divorce filing in late 2019, wherein Todd claimed that the couple had "incompatibility of temperament between the parties such that they find it impossible to live together as husband and wife." Sarah was in denial, telling Dr. James Dobson, "We're going through counseling now, so it's not over, over."

However, the marriage was indeed over, over. Though court documents were sealed and Sarah Palin hadn't spoken publicly about the end of her marriage, People reported that the divorce was finalized on March 23rd of 2020... a mere twelve days after her "Masked Singer" stint came to an end.

JoJo's struggles with alcohol

Aughts teen-pop sensation JoJo appeared on "The Masked Singer" as the Black Swan, and she came in second place. She told Entertainment Weekly that she credited the show with her drive to release new music. "If it wasn't for the show, I really don't know that I would be in the mental space that I'm in now to write and perform and to feel confident again," she said.

JoJo's fans know that after her record-breaking success with "Leave (Get Out)" and "Too Little Too Late," which made her the youngest artist to ever have a song top the Billboard charts, JoJo disappeared for a long time due to record-label disputes. She told Uproxx that she started using drugs and alcohol. "There were definitely nights that I stumbled out of clubs and that I blacked out," she said. "I needed to be buzzed to feel okay. I would go to the edge, stand on my tiptoes on the edge and then come back. I should be dead."

However, she told Uproxx that her fear of dying drove her toward sobriety. "I would have ended up like my dad, just going to sleep one day and not waking up," she said. The singer has turned her family's substance use into art; in particular, she told People that her dad's passing inspired the song "Save My Soul" from her album "Mad Love."

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).

Bobby Berk still deals with religious trauma

On "Queer Eye," Bobby Berk and the rest of the Fab Five turn hapless people into the confident beings they were always meant to be. It's fitting, then, that on "The Masked Singer," Berk took the stage as Caterpillar. 

Berk is now out and proudly, visibly gay on television, but it wasn't always so easy. On an episode of the hit Netflix show that took place in a church community, the designer opened up about religious trauma from his youth that still affects him to this day. "The only time I'd heard about [being] gay was in church, and that was that those people have horns. They're the devil. They're an abomination," he recalled in Attitude. When he came out and left the church, that also meant leaving home; Berk was homeless and had to sleep in his car.

Berk says now that he nearly quit "Queer Eye" over it. "It was so hard for me to do that episode. They told me it was a 'community centre'. They f***ing knew I wouldn't do a church!" he remembered. "I threatened to walk... The producer called me and said, 'Don't do it for the church, do it for all the little Bobbys who are still sitting in those churches. Do it for them in the hope that the church won't do to them what it did to you.'" Berk agreed to film the episode "for the kids who are still being taught self-hate."

Donny Osmond was bullied by the press

Former child star Donny Osmond made it all the way to the end of the first season of "The Masked Singer," ultimately losing to T-Pain. The "Donny & Marie" host was unmasked as the Peacock, and he told Deseret News that he particularly liked the anonymity of the show. "When you hit the stage ... you have all this baggage, good and bad, depending upon the generation that's out in the audience. And I go through this every night here in Las Vegas. They know me for certain things, whether it be positive or negative and indifferent."

That makes sense, because Donny has long been open about how people's preconceived notions of his career have been very difficult for him to deal with and have affected his mental health. He told The Mirror that he struggled for a long time because of bullying from the press when he was a child star, recalling, "I'm one of the biggest teeny boppers in the world, and Rolling Stone magazine comes out with an article which says 'the worst day in rock'n'roll history was the day Donny Osmond was born.' A teenager is just trying to figure out who he is, let alone having that. That's the ultimate bullying. It really hurt me."

His family has been at the receiving end of a lot of hurtful treatment. Per Access, Marie Osmond shared on "The Talk" that her son, who died by suicide in 2010, had been badly bullied before his passing.

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

Danny Trejo faced the death penalty

"Machete" star Danny Trejo was revealed to have been performing on Season 5 of "The Masked Singer" as the Raccoon; Trejo was eliminated after singing Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire."

Trejo himself knows a thing or two about Folsom Prison, having served time there and other prisons when he was younger for drug dealing and armed robbery. When he was at Soledad State Prison, Trejo was involved in a riot and wound up on death row for striking a guard. "They said I threw a rock and hit the lieutenant in the head but you know what? I did hit him in the head with a rock," Trejo told The Guardian, clarifying that he hadn't meant to and had been aiming for someone else. In an interview with NME, he recalled praying for rescue. "They were gonna send us to the gas chamber so I remember making a deal with God and saying, 'If you let me die with dignity, I will say your name every day, and I will do whatever I can for my fellow man,'" the actor remembered.

There were no witnesses willing to testify to his actions during the riot, so Trejo was subsequently released. He worked as a drug rehabilitation counselor for 16 years before he was cast in his first film, according to Variety, and the rest is Hollywood history.

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).

Patti LaBelle didn't think she'd make it to 45

Legendary singer Patti LaBelle was one of the first bona fide singers to appear on "The Masked Singer." She was revealed to be the voice behind The Flower on Season 2 of the show, without question one of the most haunting costumes in a show filled with haunting costumes. LaBelle told Entertainment Weekly that they told her not to hide her distinctive vocal chops. "I was kinda confused," she recalled. "I said, okay, well the only voice that came out was the one that they thought, which was Patti LaBelle!"

Though the diva was 75 when she competed on the show, LaBelle once tearfully told Oprah that she didn't think she would live past 45 due to the loss of several family members to cancer. (She later revised that up to 50 in an interview with Self.) "I lost three sisters and a great friend to cancer before they turned 50," she said. "My sisters died of colon cancer and lung cancer, and my friend died of breast cancer. So, after losing them, I was petrified that 50 would be my death point."

In addition to her still-thriving career as singer and sweet potato pie maven, LaBelle now works as an advocate ensuring people get early cancer screenings so that the illness can be managed in time.

Tony Hawk nearly died in a different animal costume

"The Masked Singer" Season 3 contestant Elephant turned out to be none other than pro skateboarder Tony Hawk, whose performance of The Cure's "Friday I'm In Love" failed to impress, to say the least. "I felt like I might have gotten in over my head," he admitted to Entertainment Weekly after being eliminated.

We have to wonder if the costume itself dredged up some unhappy memories for the skater, because Hawk had a near death experience in 2003 while wearing a different animal costume altogether. Dressed in a gorilla suit while attempting to film an episode of MTV's "WildBoyz," Hawk fell off a circular ramp called "The Loop of Death" by the skaters on the show. Hawk's injury almost proved the name to be apt; after collapsing halfway through the twist, he wound up in the hospital. "There was blood all over my eye and my face," Hawk recalled on an episode of "Scarred." "Every time they moved me, there was searing pain going through my hip." It turned out he had fractured his pelvis, his thumb, and his skull.

He later recalled on "In Depth with Graham Bensinger" that the injury stuck with him for a while. "Every time that I would hit my hip or my leg at all during that time," he remembered, "I would feel the shift in there, because the fracture was so deep that I could sort of feel that movement." Ouch.

Wiz Khalifa's clues referred to the tragic loss of his sister

Wiz Khalifa performed as the Chameleon on Season 5 of "The Masked Singer." He made it all the way to the season finale before being unmasked, ultimately coming in third place. He told Entertainment Weekly that he was a fan of the show before he signed on. "I watch it with my son and my family, so everybody was already into it. I just looked at it as an opportunity to have some fun and bring some laughs to the game," he said after his elimination.

In Week 4 of the competition, the Chameleon's clues indicated that he'd lost someone close to him who was mistreated when they were younger because of who they were. The "Black and Yellow" rapper announced that his sister died in 2017, tweeting, "The loss of my sibling has been the hardest thing Ive had to deal with but wiith your prayers and well wishes my family will get though this." His sister Lala Thomaz's obituary, shared by Khalifa's mother on Instagram, said that she "passed away peacefully with her mother by her side."

Their mother told Distractify that her daughter died due to lymphoma, which she said went untreated due to her daughter's fear of medical intervention. Thomaz was transgender, perhaps explaining the use of rainbows in the Chameleon's clues while Khalifa discussed the loss he had suffered.

Wendy Williams left her show for health reasons

Wendy Williams went instantly viral when she delivered a chaotic rendition of Odyssey's "Native New Yorker" on "The Masked Singer," dressed as a giant pair of lips. "I'm gonna go out here, and have a good sense of humor about the whole thing," she told Entertainment Weekly about her mindset going into the competition. "And when I get back home, ah, I can just take a big sigh of relief."

Williams is the host of the long-running talk show that bears her name, but the self-proclaimed Queen of Media was absent from the show's 13th season. It was initially announced that she had tested positive for COVID-19 and the season's start was pushed back, but it returned with guest hosts, and rumors began to swirl about Williams' health. Rumors spread that she had developed dementia, but her brother told The Sun that was not the case, and that she was ailing from complications due to Graves Disease and a thyroid condition. 

Williams released a statement in November 2021, writing, "As everyone knows, my health has been a hot topic. I'm making progress but it's just one of those things that's taking longer than we expected." Guest host (and fellow "Masked Singer" contestant) Sherri Shepherd was named the show's permanent new host, but Williams called in to ABC News several weeks later and insisted she'd be ready to take her hosting spot back. As of press time, the future of Williams' show is unclear.

Chris Daughtry's step-daughter passed away

"American Idol" vet Chris Daughtry was one of the most successful singers to come out of that show, even though he didn't win. The rocker's eponymous band dominated aughts radio with songs like "It's Not Over" and "Home." On the second season of "The Masked Singer," he competed as the Rottweiler; he almost won there, too, ultimately coming in second. Daughtry's appearance on the show surprised even his family, who didn't expect to see him under the dog costume. "Just seeing how much it meant to them to see me do well on it..." he told ET, "You could see that they were so proud and it was so sweet."

Unfortunately, a few years after he competed on the show, Daughtry's family was struck by tragedy when his stepdaughter Hannah died by suicide. The family revealed that her biological father had also previously died by suicide, and then in an unrelated incident shortly thereafter, Hannah was shot and left with a prosthetic eye. "Hannah was a generous and loving person who wanted more for herself and others," the family's statement said, per NBC. "She will forever be in the hearts and minds of those of us who love her."

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

Bella Thorne received death threats online

Bella Thorne was revealed as the Swan in Season 3 of "The Masked Singer," and even though she also has a career as a musician, she confessed to Entertainment Weekly she signed up specifically because the concept was so unusual and outside of her comfort zone. "I like doing things that I've never done," she said. "I like getting over my scariness, you know? It was kind of like testing myself as a person."

Unlike her former co-star Zendaya, Thorne has had a somewhat-rocky transition to adult stardom. The former Disney actor has sparked controversy for things like directing an adult film and launching an OnlyFans page so successful the site capped its payment structure, according to Insider. This has all led to Thorne being the frequent target of online harassment. She told People that she even received death threats online after a breakup. "It f***ing sucks," she said. "It doesn't feel good to think that everybody in the world just thinks you're an absolutely disgusting person."

She clapped back at online haters a few years later. "You can't just for one second think hmm this is a real person I'm talking to," she tweeted, "a real f***ing human being just like yourself." Her language may be more explicit now than in her Disney days, but this isn't a new issue for Thorne; she previously teamed up with an organization called "Stomp Out Bullying" all the way back in 2011, when she was only 14.

Logan Paul sparked international backlash

YouTuber, boxer, podcaster, and general troublemaker Logan Paul turned out to be the face behind the Grandpa Monster on Season 5 of "The Masked Singer." Judge Nicole Scherzinger actually guessed that Logan was his younger brother, fellow internet sensation Jake Paul; Logan told The Wrap, "A part of me was disappointed because I don't love being mistook for Jake, as I'm sure he doesn't like being mistook for me."

That was probably never more true than during Logan's major public scandal in 2018, when he faced backlash from the entire internet and several foreign countries over a video he posted on YouTube featuring the body of a man who died by suicide in the Aokigahara forest in Japan. When the scandal first broke, he tweeted a Notes App apology that many felt was flippant. "I'm surrounded by good people and believe I make good decisions, but I'm still a human being. I can be wrong," he wrote.

After he received criticism for the apology, he issued a tearful apology in video form this time, telling the camera, "I've made a severe and continuous lapse in my judgment, and I don't expect to be forgiven." YouTube itself apologized for their lack of communication around the issue, and they eventually demonetized Logan's account. "We think that's actually a pretty strong statement in itself," YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told The Hollywood Reporter.

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