Shelly Duvall's much-publicized appearance on "Dr. Phil"—in which the deeply troubled star of "Nashville" and "The Shining" talks about her fear of "the Sheriff of Nottingham" and reports alien "implants" in her leg—has sparked controversy and calls for a boycott even before its November 18 air date. But her story, though disturbing, isn't exactly unique. Here are 19 other stars whose breakdowns were similarly dramatic.
Photo: Still from "The Shining"/Warner Bros.
Before "Easy Rider" (1969), Hopper once said, Hollywood saw him as "a maniac and an idiot and a fool and a drunkard." Then success turned him into a wild man. During his eight-day marriage to Michelle Phillips, he'd wake up "so stoned I didn't know who the hell this pretty blonde next to me was." By 1983 an epic breakdown sent Hopper into rehab: After wandering naked into a Mexican desert, he'd tried to climb onto the wing of a taxiing plane.
Kidder has Dennis Hopper beat: In 1979, after her star turn as Lois Lane in "Superman," she was married to actor John Heard for just six days. But her breakdown came later, in 1996, when L.A. police found her living on the street in a cardboard box. Following treatment for bipolar disorder, Kidder made a swift Hollywood comeback. She recalled her manic episode in People magazine as "the most public freak-out in history."
Iggy went overboard onstage at Max's Kansas City in 1973: He crawled over shards of glass and cut himself so badly that Alice Cooper, who was in the audience, took him to the ER. Yet that wasn't his low point. In the mid-'70s, the Stooges broke up and their frontman checked himself into a mental institution. One of his few visitor was David Bowie, who later took Iggy to Berlin, where they cleaned up and collaborated for two years.
He was the late Robin Williams' idol and a favorite "Tonight Show" guest going all the way back to Jack Paar. But Winters also committed himself to extended stays in a psychiatric hospital in 1959 and 1961—experiences he often referred to in his stand-up act. As he put it on one of his comedy albums, he'd "left the mothership, and they caught me … But I had fun, playing checkers all day and making rope-soled shoes and everything. Crazy!"
O'Connor famously ripped up a photo of the pope on "Saturday Night Live" and claimed she had traded punches—literally—with Prince. But the bipolar episodes that an associate called "a 10-year nervous breakdown" came later, in the decade leading up to 2012, when the Irish singer pleaded for psychiatric help on Twitter. This spring she was reported missing in Chicago, sparking fears that she was suicidal. The good news: O'Connor was found safe and given medical attention.
The celebrated actor has played roles ranging from LBJ to a crazed crop duster (in 1996's "Independence Day"), but none quite as strange as the character he seemed to have become in 2009, when he and his wife were arrested on charges including fraud and conspiracy. Quaid has conspiracy theories of his own. In 2015, he posted a YouTube video in which he simulates sex with his wife, who's wearing a Rupert Murdoch mask.
The 1951 film version of "A Streetcar Named Desire" ends with Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) collapsing before being escorted to a mental hospital. Two years later the actress herself suffered a severe breakdown during production of "Elephant Walk," which her husband Lawrence Olivier alluded to in writing of her "possession by that uncannily evil monster, manic depression." Yet it never diminished her stature as the consummate actress.
The Beach Boys savant experienced what appeared to be a perpetual nervous breakdown. In the '70s, he became a recluse, installing a sandbox in his living room, spending days in bed and listening endlessly to the Ronettes' "Be My Baby." Many figured he was gone for good. Then, in 1995, Wilson had an amazing comeback with the simultaneous release of two albums and the documentary "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times."
"One pair of matching bookends—different as night and day" describes the cousins she played on "The Patty Duke Show." It could also apply to the actress herself, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982—more than a decade after her bizarre acceptance speech at the 1970 Emmy Awards. Back then, many assumed she was stoned. Today we know better, thanks in part to Duke's openness and advocacy in the field of mental health.
The heavy metal pioneer infamous for biting the head off a bat onstage is also said to be bipolar. But Ozzy offers another explanation for his deranged behavior: "I can honestly say, all the bad things that ever happened to me were directly, directly attributed to drugs and alcohol. I mean, I would never urinate at the Alamo at nine o'clock in the morning dressed in a woman's evening dress sober."
Francis Ford Coppola
The pressures on the director during the 1976 filming of "Apocalypse Now" are hard to exaggerate. It was chaos in the Philippines jungle, with late cast changes, Dennis Hopper on cocaine, Martin Sheen having a heart attack and Marlon Brando showing up weighing 300 pounds. Not to mention a typhoon. As Coppola later said, "We had access to too much money and little by little we went insane." But he made it home, finally, with a masterpiece.
He was an understudy for John Belushi and a co-star of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" before the release of his 1977 album, "Bat Out of Hell," which went platinum 14 times in the U.S. alone. At the peak of his success, Meat Loaf threatened to jump off a skyscraper. "I don't really relate to myself in any form or fashion as any kind of star," he said just before going on tour in 2011. "And that's what I had a nervous breakdown about."
Love turned tragedy—the suicide of her husband Kurt Cobain, the loss of custody of her child—into a backstory for years of messy and attention-getting behavior. It reached a crescendo in 2004, when she released "America's Sweetheart," exposed her breasts at a Wendy's and, on her 40th birthday, was admitted to Bellevue. "I'm not having a nervous breakdown," she told a crowd during one of her concerts. The media disagreed.
"I went completely off the rails," Fisher told the Daily Mail after she was videotaped in a manic state aboard a cruise ship two years ago. The best-selling author ("Postcards From the Edge") and actress, still best known as Princess Leia in the original "Star Wars" trilogy, has long been open about her bipolar illness, which often serves as a basis for her brilliant performance art and humor. As Fisher once put it, "I'm very sane about how crazy I am."
Jerry Lee Lewis
Lewis' career went into a tailspin following the scandal of his marriage to his underage cousin back in the '50s. But rock and roll's original "Wild One" really lost it around 3 a.m. one night in 1976 when he showed up at Graceland, sloshed on champagne and packing a .38 derringer, and demanded to see Elvis Presley. The Killer went berserk as Memphis police took him away in handcuffs. The King kept his distance, watching it all on closed-circuit TV.
Life has been far from easy for Roseanne. The 63-year-old sitcom veteran, who recently revealed she's going blind from macular degeneration and glaucoma, wrote in New York magazine about a nervous breakdown she experienced while feuding with producers of "Roseanne," which aired from 1988 to 1997. Yet these days she's "living it up," she told the Daily Beast. As Barr put it, "I'm in the youth of my old age."
With his marriage on the brink of divorce and a bill from the IRS for $1 million-plus in back taxes, the silent film star had a meltdown in 1927 and tried to jump out of a window in his attorney's apartment. Just weeks later he told the press he feared for his ability to act: "You don't know whether the spark will die." Fortunately it didn't. Chaplin went on to make some of his greatest masterpieces, including "City Lights" and "Modern Times."
In the punk history "Please Kill Me," Dee Dee Ramone recalls the legendary producer collapsing "with a nervous breakdown" while working with the Ramones on "End of the Century" in 1979. Spector was known for erratic behavior, and as a rule of thumb it was best to steer clear of him when he went off the deep end. This became tragically evident in 2003, when he committed the murder for which he's now serving 19 years to life in prison.
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