Scandals Of The Vanilla Sort: Celebrities Who’ve Built Their Careers On Controversy

November 28, 2012  |  
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I used to wonder why people would go on a reality show with the attempt of progressing their careers.  It just didn’t seem to make sense to me, but when you look at some celebrities, controversy would be the thing to not only build their career, but would also define it.  Now there’s a difference of people who have been in controversial situations, and people who have used it to create or maintain their status in public appearance.  We’re discussing the latter.  Here is a list of famous people who seem to let their infamous behaviors open doors for them.

Jayne Mansfield

If we’re gonna start this off, let’s take it on back, to the buxom beauty herself, Jayne Mansfield.  During the time that Marilyn Monroe was big, competing movie production networks were trying to find their own Marilyn, and 20th Century Fox found theirs with Jayne, but it was said that she frequently did publicity stunts where she would expose her breasts to keep her name in the presses.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was a very talented actress, but when people tend to think of her, they only tend to remember her as the quintessential sex symbol.  When Marilyn was a struggling actress she did nude photos to make money to pay her rent.  When her career began to pick up, one of the photos leaked and she held a press conference to admit that the photo was her, and she was struggling financially.  This not only created sympathy for Norma Jean, but got a buzz growing for her.  She then did Playboy which launched her even larger and made her into the symbol that people remember her for today.

Anna Nicole Smith

Anna started her career off as something like the modern day Marilyn Monroe, posing in Playboy. From there she kept her name in the media with a string of controversial, or at least questionable events. There was the marriage to J Howard Marshall, an oil tycoon who was 62 years her senior. Anna divorced her husband to marry Marshall and many assumed it was because of the money. Anna’s name stayed in the press after Marshall died as his relatives tried to fight over his estate. Once that was over Anna kept up the momentum by starring in her own reality show. Once that was over, Anna spent the last couple years of her life trying to determine the paternity of her now six year old daughter, Dannielynn.




The influential pop icon started releasing her singles in the 80s.  Though people enjoyed her music, her popularity skyrocketed when during her MTV VMA performance of “Like a Virgin,” she was dressed in a wedding dress, gyrating on stage and wearing a belt that said “Boy Toy.”  After that, Madonna was accused of doing things for publicity sake/public shock, like the documentary “Truth or Dare,” (that caused a rift between her and her brother), her “Sex” book, all of the imagery in the “Like a Prayer” video and kissing both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera during their VMA performance.

Madonna’s history came up when she openly scolded M.I.A. for flipping the bird during the 2012 Super Bowl performance when Madonna built her career on controversy.


Paris Hilton

Very few people were paying attention to Paris Hilton.  They just knew that she was a rich girl who was a fixture at some of the top bars and restuarants in LA.  It wasn’t until Rick Salander had “One Night in Paris” that made Paris Hilton a household name.  But not wanting to rest on that for fame, Paris was able to keep her name in people’s mouths by… being Paris.

Kim Kardashian

And how one sex tape bred a celebrity, another bred a force.  Kim Kardashian, who was originally only known as Paris’ friend, became famous from her sex tape with singer/reality television personality, Ray J.  If you think of it, the entire empire was born by that sex tape, and even though it was released 2007, it’s still being brought up today not just by the media, but by her boyfriend Kanye West in his recent songs.

Ozzy Osbourne

The Godfather of Heavy Metal, Ozzy Osbourne shot to fame as the lead singer of the band Black Sabbath, and was successful when he went solo.  Though he was a legend in the heavy metal circuit, he became known worldwide to people who didn’t listen to heavy metal for his actions while intoxicated.  While indulging in drugs and alcohol, Ozzy bit off the head of a dove, a bat, and snorted a line of ants.

His fame continued when MTV gave he and his family a reality television show that provided footage of the family cursing at others and each other.

Charlie Sheen

Who else can go on coke bender, attack a prostitute and still end up having endorsements out of the wahzoo?  Charlie Sheen started off as a very talented actor, and each time he fell into his vices of drugs and alcohol, he would do his rehab stint and come back in strong acting roles.  However, since he declared his lineage of tiger blood and the fact that he is “Winning,” he has built his current career on these shenanigans and even have endorsements by Fiat making light of it.

Donald Trump

My mother said that if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.  With that being said…


What did you think of the list?  Did we miss anyone?  Who would you have included?  Sound off in the comment section.

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