Don’t Call It A Comeback! Celebs Who Made It Back On Top – And Others Who Had A Second Flop

December 6, 2012  |  
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Fame is fleeting: sometimes you’re the hottest thing in Hollywood and other times you can barely get your name in tabloids. Twelve of these stars have accomplished the seemingly impossible – or at least the extremely difficult – task of reestablishing their fame after losing it. On the other hand, three of these stars have struggled to revive their careers, proving how temporary the spotlight can be.

Surprisingly, there have been many notable comebacks that deserved mention, so it was difficult to narrow this list. Check out these celebs who managed to climb to the top not once, but twice.

Jennifer Lopez

A judging role on American Idol couldn’t have been a more perfect way to reinvigorate Jennifer Lopez’s music career. She strategically planned the release of her seventh album, Love? to coincide with her season on the show which was genius. She regularly promoted her album on American Idol by performing songs from it, and quickly picked up loads of endorsement deals, now she’s moved on to a tour and waved AI goodbye.


Usher was extremely successfully before he fell off the radar in 2002, but after he came back on in 2004 he became a superstar. With the release of his fourth studio album Confessions, Usher made history for number of albums sold and awards received. Since then, his career has continued to flourish, even during his controversial divorce and child custody battle.


Brandy’s career in the 90’s was perfectly tailored to her: she sang the perfect songs, had the perfect look, and starred in the perfect show (Brandy will always be Moesha). But since she’s released “Put It Down” featuring Chris Brown, the star’s career has been revamped. She looks great and sounds great, and is getting a lot of good press for her new album.

Michael Jackson

Before his untimely death, Michael Jackson was no doubt prepared to make the comeback of a lifetime. With the This Is It tour, the beloved star would have put on 50 shows — his biggest concert series since the HIStory World Tour in 1996. Impressively, This Is It sold out quickly, prompting Jackson’s team to add additional shows to the set. We will never know how Jackson’s tour would have fared, but given his timeless talent it likely would have been spectacular.

LeToya Luckett

For years we wondered what had happened to the axed Destiny’s Child girls before figuring that they would probably never return to the music scene. But in 2006, LeToya Luckett emerged and released her self-titled debut album LeToya, from which her first single “Torn” became a hit. LeToya has since released another album and found success in acting.

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres started out very successfully with a starring role on a hit series. But after announcing her homosexuality, her series’ ratings soon plummeted and the show was cancelled. She attempted stand-up comedy and even starred on another sitcom, but both projects were utter fails. It seemed DeGeneres’ days in Hollywood were through.

But in 2003, DeGeneres got the comeback break she was looking for. NBC granted her The Ellen DeGeneres Show; a daytime talk program that in just a matter of years would become massively successful. As it entered its tenth season this past September, the show has won 32 Daytime Emmy Awards and secured DeGeneres a rightful place in celebrity comeback history.

Jennifer Hudson

After the brutal murder of Jennifer Hudson’s mother, brother, and nephew in 2008, Hudson needed some serious time to heal. But after doing so, the star wowed everyone by powering back in 2011 with a fabulous new album and a whole new look. Now, eighty pounds lighter, Hudson is at the top of her game and working on new music.

Mariah Carey

When Mariah Carey made her grand return to the spotlight in 2005, after suffering an emotional and physical breakdown, it was if she was more fabulous than ever. Her voice was amazing and her updated diva image was super polished. Not to mention her association with hit maker Jermaine Dupri; which was a genius pairing. With Dupri as producer, Mariah belted out hit after hit, first “We Belong Together” then “Shake It Off.” Her album The Emancipation of Mimi sold a record number of units and earned Mariah tons of awards.


With the release of her twelfth album MDNA, Madonna proved once again that her music and artistry is timeless. For this comeback, she reinvented herself in a new way and took new risks that paid off. In February, before her album had even dropped, Madonna performed her first single during the Super bowl halftime show and made history. Hers was the most watched halftime show ever with 114 million viewers – more than the game itself! After the album was released, the singer embarked on her MDNA tour, which – despite some of the controversy it caused – was one of her most successful ever.

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson’s downward career spiral was long, hard and cringe worthy. Given all of that, his comeback has been somewhat miraculous. He’s found love with a new and supportive wife, Kiki Spicer, had a child, and released a documentary about his own life. His one-man, six-night Broadway play was a success and Tyson is looking forward to future projects.


After witnessing the gruesome suicide of her ex-boyfriend Jarvis Weems in 1999, Monica suffered from depression for years. She attempted to make a comeback album in 2002, but poor sales and negative reviews forced her back into the studio to rework it. By 2003, the singer had started working with hit songwriters like Jazze Pha and Kanye West, and channeled her experiences into After The Storm. The album was a comeback success catapulting the songstress back into the spotlight. She’s since released two albums and starred in her own reality TV show.

Vanessa Williams

After Vanessa Williams had her crown yanked for posing nude in Penthouse Magazine back in the early 80’s, the star disappeared for a while. But in 1988, she made the wise decision to re-establish her fame, this time as a singer – which turned out to be a successful career transition. Many of her singles topped the charts and she earned many Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award nominations. From there, the star progressed to acting, which too was a favorable change. Williams quickly picked up a role in the 1996 film, Eraser starring opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. Williams’ career since then has been steady.

We’re happy for the celebrities that have successfully revived their careers, but not all attempts at comeback are as successful…

Toni Braxton

Braxton Family Values may have recharged Toni Braxton’s fame, but sadly it’s done nothing for her languishing music career. For three seasons we’ve watched as Toni’s performed at shows, changed her management, and recorded music in the studio, all in an attempt to make another hit – that still hasn’t been made. It’s sad to say, but at this point it seems her sister Trina’s musical endeavors are faring better than her own.

Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera may have a lucrative judging gig on The Voice (which she will supposedly take a break from after this season), but she still hasn’t managed to restore her music career back to what it was in 2001. Her newest album, Lotus, isn’t producing any hits; its first single “Your Body” is forgettable – both the song and video — and she only sold 73,00 units in the first week. Even in live performances, Christina just isn’t what she used to be.


What was meant to be a comeback tour quickly became a nightmare in 2011, when DMX’s legal woes prevented him from leaving the US and thus embarking on the tour. To make matters worse, the booking agency that set the whole thing up sued the troubled star for $630,000 claiming he had violated their contract agreement, and was difficult to work with. He can always fall back on remixing Christmas hits though.

Meghan Williams is a freelance writer living in Florida. Follow her on Twitter at @Meggsndbacon

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